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Emmanuel Brousse
Reportage | 24 mai
Bustling about behind their gadget-filled computers, dozens of geeks are carefully scanning their screen in the hum of the dozens of fans. Regularly, one of them stands up and sprays his machine with liquid nitrogen, which releases impressive smoke curls for the audience of the Poitiers Gamers Assembly.
These high-class computer scientist take part in an overclocking competition, a contest aiming at pushing their machine to the maximum of their calculation possibilities, notably by subjecting their processors to extreme temperatures.
All these hardware fanatics are mainly doing this because they love technology and competition. But the bests of them are sponsored by IT manufacturers, as it is shown by the logos decorating their jackets, caps and machines. Nothing surprising, since these genius handymen and women have come back under the spotlight and the industry does not intend to miss an occasion to surf on the trend.
After the first years of computer science, when the Do it yourself had triggered some nice success stories, the world had entered the mass internet era. Immense and incredibly complex, the internet never stopped being a source of innovation, but they no longer seemed to be confined to Silicon Valley giants or ambitious startups.
Home-based handymen and women already belonged to the computer science legend but they were not to have a real role to play in the technology’s evolution since it appeared inaccessible for some isolated people.
Reunited in online communities and linked by the Open Source concepts, the “makers”, DIY partisans specialized in high technologies, never stopped tinkering but the industry only considered them people with a computer science related hobby.

Home-based computer scientists are not dead

And yet, it was a bit early to put “home-based computer scientists” in a museum. For the last few years, the advent of drones and 3D printers on the market, the democratization of solutions to easily develop mobile apps gave makers the tools to get back in the limelight of technological innovation. More precisely, in the field of the “Internet of Things”, which constitutes the next step of the internet’s evolution.
Both the internet service providers and the Silicon Valley’s managers are now interested in connected objects and in the huge commercial possibilities they offer. All the technology is already ready to connect any object to a computer or a cellphone. There is only one thing missing to start the connected objects mania: good ideas to appeal the users and to convince them to connect their daily life to a digital interface.
And, if not anyone can design a smartphone from A to Z, many individuals can invent a system to include sensors in a flower pot or in a thermometer. The creation of these kinds of objects being based more on inventiveness than on technical complexity is at the heart of the maker’s activity.
Now that the race for connected objects has started, all the industries, service providers, insurance companies are making sheep’s eyes at handymen and women capable of finding innovative concepts and to make prototypes out of it.
 © DR
Of course, makers respond to these appealing propositions. More and more amateur tinkerers are turning into startups and creating partnerships with industrials who want to be a few steps ahead in the big connected objects race.
Technically, the connected object is based on four things:
  The components (sensors, hardware, etc.)
  The transmission (choice of the network through which the information transmitted by the connected object goes: high or low-flow, in one direction or not…)
  The data (nature of the transmitted information and use made of it)
  The man-machine interface (the way the user will access the transmitted information: on the smartphone, computer, an app, etc.).
While the massive plunge of our world in the all-connected universe begins, the makers, and their suddenly serious again odd jobs for the industry, are probably the ones who will define the frame of our future daily life. And in the connected objects’ Far West where everything is yet to be done, the big winner will probably be the one who will be able to find the most visionary prodigies.
Maker Faire Paris, à Paris Expo, Porte de Versailles, les 30 avril et 1er mai 2016.
 © DR
 © DR
 © DR
 © DR
 © DR
Crédits photo : DR, Back to the future, Back to the Future
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The tinkerers’ victory à un ami.
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