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About science and its ability to speak to people: a postcard from the Maker Faire

maker faire peter hanappe

From the 7th to the 9th of October we have been attending the Maker Faire Rome 2022-European Edition together with our colleagues from Sony CSL Rome. As during the past editions, it has been a golden opportunity to showcase our research works and to have an interesting exchange with all the people who passed through our booths, within the large Sony exhibition area.

While standing within the all area, we had the feeling of a continuous and significant flow of people, probably driven by the appealing position of our booths and of course by the event itself that, this year, after the Covid-19 restrictions, had recovered its original format with the all Gasometer space occupied by the premises of the faire.

Innova Camera, the leading institution in charge of the Maker Faire organisation spoke about 45.000 participants during the three days of the manifestation which is an incredible result for an event dedicated to innovation, science and technology.

Our exhibition area showed all the main projects under development in our two labs in Paris and in Rome and the number of people who asked us more details about our research activity was really surprising.

From the 15minute city project who totally conquered people’s attention, to the several Infosphere projects that stimulated the curiosity of the public about the analysis of the political speech on social media, continuing with the ForeMusic project and the incredible attraction the topic of music prediction has on people, going on with the project in partnership with CRC-Roma about using AI to improve texts’ understanding. Moreover, the two booths dedicated to augmented creativity and to sustainability had a great response from the public too. The first one because of the opportunity to “play” with neural networks and for the representation of the STARTS Project that tickled imagination through the infinite outcomes of science and arts working together. The second one (the sustainability booth) has been stormed by teenagers who demonstrated to be the most interested in understanding new agriculture methods able to preserve and make this heart an healthier place. Moreover, the app Kouzan, developed in collaboration with CSH Vienna has been used by several users to rate the installations of the whole faire.

During the second day of the faire, we also had the opportunity to speak live about our lab’s activities on the Maker Faire main stage and this small talk we had generated such a genuine interest in the public and a kind of surprise when realising that research has such a prominent position within Sony. Hereafter some of the tweets that went online during the talk.

The Maker Faire experience always requires a great preparation behind, the organisational effort is huge and entering the mood of a communicative dimension with the public could sound somehow challenging, but this is one of those events you always want to participate in, because of the lively atmosphere and the cultural and scientific exchange with the other attendees and for the preciousness of the feedback coming from the public. We are looking forward to attending next year again!