August is here, and the time arrived for us to go to Tokyo Makerfaire. Japan is our biggest market and so we were excited to see what our users had been making with M5Stack.
On our first day we paid a visit to Switch Science our distributor in Japan. We had a tour of their well organized warehouse, STEM education department and workshop facilities. In our meeting with Switch Science we discussed the popularity of Stick C and Stick V which had been selling out in less than an hour in both Switch Science's online store and from vendors stores in Akihabara electronics markets.
We had a productive meeting with Shimojima San founder of Ambient Data Inc. He plans to release a book entitled “M5Stack for Everyone” a detailed guide intended for beginners into the world of IoT which currently stands at around 300 pages. The book is set to be released around late September early October.
In the evening we were taken to the offices of Omron who had kindly sponsored the venue for our meet up. 100+ Makers, some coming from as far as Kumamoto (South West Japan) came to present their projects and meet with other M5Stack users.
There were projects of all kinds including, self-balancing vibration robots, a Stick C controlled pendulum clock, Traditional Japanese demon mask with LED lights, and even one fan designed his own 3G stack. Prof. Shimojima presented awards for the top 3 projects.
On the first day of the Makerfaire we got to the site around 10am to set up. Although gates didn't open to the public until 12am many of the makers arrived early to set up and take a look at the projects from other booths. The Venue was laid out in an L shape and our booth was on the corner with Switch Science.
Many fans came to greet Jimmy and also brought their projects along to display in our booth. The booth was always busy on both days, thankfully we had a lot of help from Switch Science with translation and Switch Science sold out of Stick V and Stick C within 30 mins.
Many projects in the Makerfaire used M5Stack. The projects were mostly focused on IoT with sensors reading temperature, fetching data from cloud platforms and controlling fans or other household appliances. Some projects that stood out were the train themed projects of Ogimotoki a father with a handicapped son, who uses technology to improve the quality of his sons life.
There was also a POV globe which used a stripped down M5Stack inside a 3D printed orb with LEDs on. Soracom and Obniz had demos in their booths using M5Stack to show off the benefits of their respective platforms.
The day after the Makerfaire we paid a visit to Sony HQ and the Sony Creative Lounge. Mesh project founder Takehiko Hagiwara, who is a fan of M5Stack gave us a tour. The Sony Creative Lounge is a Makerspace on the ground floor of the Sony building. Sony employees and referred friends can use the facilities for as little as 2000 yen a month. Facilities include 3D printers, Laser Cutter, CNC, UV printer and more.
In the afternoon we went down to Akihabara to visit Tokyo’s famous Electronic market and hub of Otaku culture. Although much smaller than Shenzhen's Huaqiangbei there is a lot more on offer than just electric components. The Maywa Denki store with it's carefully curated Radio Super product gallery was a feast for the senses with wacky and wonderful products of all kinds.
We visited a number of stores which were selling or displaying M5Stack products. The products were all neatly displayed with an additional sticker on each product giving detailed information in Japanese. Switch Science told us that these stores want to order larger quantities of M5Stack goods.
Soon the time came for us to say goodbye to Tokyo. The trip left us buzzing with excitement after seeing the passion of the Japanese makers and spurred us on to improve the quality and usability of our products so that more aspiring inventors can make their dream projects a reality.