Science and technology

The full 100,000 m2 of the largest exhibition center of Italy, Fiera Di Roma was occupied by the Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition 2023.

#MFR2023 emerges as a vibrant confluence of technology, creativity, and innovation. This annual faire , open to an enthusiastic public, unfolds in the timeless city of Rome, setting a stage for a gathering unlike any other. It's a place where innovators, makers, enthusiasts, and visionaries from across Europe and beyond converge to share, inspire, and ignite the spark of ingenious ideas.

From cutting-edge IoT & Electronics to advancements in Smart Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, the faire covers a multitude of sectors including Aerospace, Digital Manufacturing, and even Agritech & Food, Circular Economy, Biohacking, and more.

The Call Mechanism is the fair's backbone, democratically opening doors for innovative minds to showcase their breakthroughs without a fee, an initiative meticulously overseen by a panel of experts. This process exemplifies the spirit of inclusivity and merit that defines the essence of Maker Faire Rome.

This year’s event was spread across seven pavillions of the Fiera di Roma exhibition center. Each pavilion was given an abstract title under which several themes were covered. The areas were called Make, Life, Discover, Research, Learn, and Play. 

Make represents the soul of the event, inspiring open source grass root innovation and hands on experimenting. ”Maker” projects ranging form electronics and components to 3D printing, digital manufacturing, industrial automation, and space research.

Projects related to agrifood, circular economy, renewable energies, and, environmental sustainability were presented in the Life pavilion. One of the most interesting projects in this pavilion was an MIT - Carabinieri collaboration. Most people don’t know that the Italian Carabinieri, which is a kind of Gendarmerie police force, among other duties monitors the wild life and the health of vegetation and trees. They usually do this by walking in the forest and making notes. MIT students and researchers have now built an experimental spectrometry camera which can be mounted on top of the Carabinieri patrol vehicles and bot automatise and digitise this process. The camera scans the vegetation and uses AI to estimate the health of the trees.

Pavilion 5, named DISCOVER and positioned next to Pavilion 3, was dedicated to essential technological domains such as artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual and augmented reality, and cybersecurity. This area showcased an array of digital projects and services targeted at both individuals and businesses. It also included a significant networking section, intended to encourage one-to-one interactions and cultivate business opportunities. 

Maker Faire Rome, organised by Innova Camera under the license from Make Co, is an educational and collaborative arena. It offers workshops, engaging conferences, and hands-on labs, fostering not just knowledge acquisition but practical skills in technology and digital innovation. The involvement of students, startups, corporates, and government bodies transforms the event into a melting pot of ideas and technological evolution. It symbolises a meeting point for the European innovator's community, firmly positioning Italy, and more specifically Rome, as a hub of creativity and forward-thinking.

Research institutes, universities, and technical institutes focused on innovation together with projects related to health, wellness, and medical scientific research were presented in the Research pavilion. Interestingly in a quiet corner of the research pavilion a multinational Horizon project coordinated by the University of Oulu were showcasing their research. 

Longitools researchers and their sensors

The LongITools project is focused on understanding the interplay between environmental, lifestyle, and biological factors to assess the risks of cardiovascular and cardiometabolic non-communicable diseases in people. Given that cardiovascular diseases are the foremost cause of deaths in Europe and metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes and obesity are increasingly common, this project aims to deepen our understanding of these diseases. This understanding is crucial for developing effective policies and interventions to prevent and reverse such diseases.

LongITools utilises a comprehensive array of data, including over 11 million EU citizens' life-course data from various sources like cohort studies, controlled trials, and biobanks. This "exposome" approach helps define disease pathways and intervention points. The project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program, aims to produce new scientific evidence, develop a metadata catalogue, create life-course causal models, and assemble tools for exposome data analysis. Additionally, it intends to contribute to policy-making and regulation, with tools such as a health risk assessment system using AI, an economic simulation model for the economic burden of diseases, and translation of research into policy options, thereby aiming to improve the health of EU citizens. The project places multiple environmental sensors in the participant subjects homes while at the same time measuring their biosignals to find correlation between environmental factors such as noise or CO2 and stress levels.

Codiart's high res robot camera and darkroom

Another startup in the Fair, CODiART has revolutionised the art world by introducing an advanced supervision, scanning, and control system tailored for the digitalisation and intricate analysis of artworks. This innovation proves invaluable for a spectrum of art aficionados, including galleries, museums, collectors, restorers, and auction houses. Their custom-built software meticulously identifies, tracks, and examines the minutest details of an artwork, compiles annotations about its origin, and auto-generates a comprehensive PDF report for sharing. Moreover, CODiART's high-tech approach transforms the way artworks stored in various locations, including vaults and restoration labs, are exhibited, circumventing potential logistical challenges and risks. The company's mission revolves around enriching the experiences of restorers, art critics, and enthusiasts by offering a precise, automated analysis, powered by cutting-edge computer vision technology. The unique blend of a collaborative robot, top-tier 2D camera, joystick, and their proprietary software ensures an unparalleled deep dive into the world of art.

Weaving's AI recognises human joints instatnly and accurately and can follow the range of movment

Weaving, brings telerehabilitation to the forefront, offering a game-changing platform for physiotherapists and specialised centres, streamlining remote patient management and care. This innovative platform eliminates the need for physical sensors, utilising only a PC or smartphone camera. Physiotherapists can efficiently manage appointments, effortlessly collect and manage patient records, and compose bespoke therapeutic exercise routines. The platform also allows the uploading of custom exercise videos, ensuring a personalised treatment experience for each patient. One of the standout features is the Virtual AI Trainer, which meticulously tracks, monitors, and corrects patients’ exercise executions, enhancing the efficacy of home-based treatments. Weaving focuses on helping individuals with motor issues regain independence, offering therapeutic exercise protocols for various skeletal and neurological problems. Features like a customisable exercise calendar, constant support for patient queries, and monitoring of both pain and therapeutic progress underscore Weaving's commitment to simplicity and innovation. The platform is designed to be user-friendly for all ages, ensuring safe, controlled, and effective home-based physiotherapy exercises.

The role of Maker Faire Rome extends further, becoming a massive platform for companies to interact with a knowledgeable and engaged audience. This interplay between creators and the market underscores the event's importance as a beacon for business and innovation.

In understanding the essence of a "Maker," one realises it's more than a title; it's a mindset of exploration, collaboration, and innovation. As Makers converge in Rome, they're not only showcasing their inventions but also representing a cultural movement with the power to reshape economic and social landscapes.

Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition, therefore, isn't just an event. It's a celebration of human ingenuity, a testament to the power of collaboration, and a beacon for the future of innovation, right in the heart of Rome, where the past and future intriguingly intertwine to create something truly magical.

Alexis Kouros

Helsinki Times