2011++ for Seeed and you dear friends!

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Happy Late (Early) New Year everybody! Can’t believe it’s been another year already!

It’s a bit late saying new year but still early for Chinese Spring festival. Seeed is preparing itself for vacation, let me(Eric) take the break to share more about the happenings in 2011 and forecast what’s ahead for Seeed:

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In general, we have initiated a lot stuff during 2011, open hardware wind is up taking our hopes and images for the future. We are more focused in turning ourselves into an open hardware facilitator, whose mission will be help small innovators turn ideas into products. It’s a very challenging year, but we are satisfied to see ourselves growing.

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Products! you may notice we are keep adding new products. The fresh blood are both from Seeed engineers and Makers like you!

We spend a lot energy trying to practical electronic circuits into an easier modular plug and play system called Grove. It’s a total new struggling iteration that we standardize connector, form factor, color and even tutorials. More Grove modules are continuously added to shelf, from Geiger counter to dust sensor. We integrate more Grove connectors to our controller boards for easier usage too. Remember the super fun Toy Hacking Contest? A lot fun projects from our dear users. Fusion PCB is hot as usual.

Over 1/3 of our revenue now comes from collaborated Makers! Our star product DSO Quad finally ships and now in the wild. They will gradually migrate to Aluminum version in the future. Dangerous Prototypes keeps a really active product line with fabulous community involvement, you can’t miss their 1 product/month pace! B-Squares are a triumph on Kickerstarter and keep on selling via us. Also, thanks maple, RF explore, magic mirror, Papillio,and all our dear Makers! We will keep improving the services for you! :)

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To handle ramping product types, we have to improve the processe. It’s totally like a traffic planner, you have to build the roads, setup the signal, but don’t make it too sluggish. A dedicated process is prepared to support Makers’ kickstarter projects. Image 1000 offline orders with different packing lists shipping individually in 3 days? It brings a lot of challenge to handle such complex fulfillment but we survived.

Also, our elite IT groups started to built an ERP system as Seeed’s new neural network, painful to adopt but really worthy for the future. You might not notice the change but tremendous for every Seeed member! :)

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The pick and place machine is brought up and running full throttle now, it’s the smallest mode we can find, but perfect for pioneering batches. With it we reduces PCBA turnover time fro 8-9 to minimal 0.5 day! We also start to adopt test beds for most of our boards, they help improve test time and yield, also much faster. We were too slow on the enclosures because we need to convince the laser cutting supplier to squeeze some time for our prototypes, end up with quite random results. Now we have laser cutter ourselves for prototyping, enclosure manufacture, logos, and even a laser cutting service.

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May, 2011. It’s our second time to Maker Faire! But can’t wait to become the sponsor with a booth! We invite over our partnering makers, Al, Ian, Tully, James, Xu, and Jack to host the booth. It was totally like parachuting, we simulated a same booth in Shenzhen and shipped all the materials as a “kit”. Luckily we didn’t miss something important. Also, thanks awesome Benny for helping everything!

It was grant event, thank you Make to give us a heavy traffic booth to trap us! Didn’t have enough time to look around at all…

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We generated a Seeed version of ADK right after the Google/IO, it’s a very high confirmation from big companies like google to adopt Arduino designs. We are proud to be listed in the guide page. ADK opens a new gate to android developers as well as bridge between Arduino community.

As smartphones are becoming the computing center, maybe open hardwares would also tilt to work more with mobile devices? They could be the new center for internet of things.

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August, 2011. We pull back from crowded city center. Migrated 4 time in 3 years, we settled ourselves a much bigger space closer to suburban. We enjoy the green hills, reservoir, and new metro line near it. Finally everybody has adequate room to stretch their layout. You may also see more office hacking continually added as we claim ourselves dominant.

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We visited Noisebrigde, Techshops and other hackerspaces during our trip to maker faire. The atmosphere and enthusiasm is totally eye opening to us, we are too lonely in China for the past a few years.

Before moving the office, we met SZDIY, an active Maker group existing silently for 2 years in Shenzhen! It’s a lot risk to turn a 300 square meter office into a hackerspace in Shenzhen, but worthy trying! So We sponsored our previous office as the first hakcerspace called Chaihuo, added furnitures, tools decorations and etc. It has been running for 4 months now, we had many people visited and showed us love of Maker movements. Mainstream opinions like Shanghai Government has noticed the importance of Maker movements, and planning to initiate 100 “Innovative House” in Shanghai. It could be a great sign but adaptation is needed like other incomings. We will coordinate more to keep the new trend thriving, looking forward to see more creative works jump out of “made in China”. Welcome to come hangout!

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In September, we had our 3rd Anniversary, it’s like big birthday trip! Totally a fun journey to Guangzhou water theme park. You also can’t miss the Giant Circus, a combination of crafts, performance, drama, acrobats, and new media arts.

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Microsoft is changing itself, including pushing open hardware. It was totally fun and pleasure to work with Research Lab guys. Seen our Gadgteer product line with GHI? The distinguish between software and hardware is getting more blur now.

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We cherish our websites very much. It’s the portal we communicate with most customers. Thanks our marketing team for the great efforts!

Aside from the re-designed mew sites, we are having more videos showing what’s new in/around Seeed, gathered as “Channel [S]“. Footages, There are only a few footages as trial, but feel free to poke us of contents you want to see!

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China Open Source week was all about open software, but they invited open hardware people this year! So a lot old friends working on open hardware got to meet for the first time. The attention is beyond our expectation, we had a big sub panel discussion crowded with over 200 audiences.

One month later, CSDN, the biggest developer network of China invited us for Mobile Development Conference. Great chance to share the new wave! ; )

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If we can name another giant looking at open hardware, it’s RadioShack. You can’t miss their advertisement during Maker Faire. Now they are refurbishing their shelf to include the latest innovation tools like Arduino. Image that over 4000 retail stores carry open hardware tool sets for Makers!

If we can name one most difficult company to works with, it’s RadioShack. Never seen such strict requirements to every detail on product and supply chain. They surely know how to make a qualified delivery to their customers, for more than 90 year. Through many efforts and struggle, we are glad that a pioneering batch of Seeed products will be put on shelf soon. Meeting consumer product demands would really be a mission-nearly-impossible for makers, but it’s still feasible.

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Farewell 2011! from our Annual party!

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2012 would be like riding a tide, exciting and totally pressing.

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Arduino has been heated up for the past 5 years, makers accumulates to generate more and more exciting works, covering all aspects of life with technology. More people will learn Arduino and discover their inner power of creations.

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Seeed will surely have more competitors from neighborhood. Copycats keep generating clone Arduino boards with minimal cost. They flood ebay with cheap price and poor quality, some even just dump Seeed website. The cloners are a shame, especially they are criticized as classic Made in China vs. Made in Italy.

However, they(we) are not all copycats. Some are starting to build their own brand based on quality, innovate and share in open source license, study the demands for better service… These guys deserve respect. _It’s human nature to create and enjoy, maker movement might bring a new way of making livings here, end up boost open hardware ecosystem to challenge traditional industry.

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Like for Web 1.0 turning into Web 2.0, physical products might experiencing a similar iteration of user contribution. User ourselves are in better position understanding demands, create solutions from open hardware, end-up generate out-of-the-box products. As an open hardware facilitator, it’s our major mission to help small innovators turn ideas into products.

We were promoting the service chain first time during Maker Faire Bay Area 2011. You may have seen the beta version of WISH and PROPAGATE. You will see them evolve tremendously during 2012. A lot improvements are needed to make these services mature and fluent.

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Internet of things are been pushed heavily by governments and big companies. Like home-brew computer club 30 years ago, creations from small innovators might bring up the real wave of technologies.

Arduino has lowered the threshold of ubiquitous computing, Seeed will help provide more plug n’ play sensors, actuators and communication modules. There will also be more solutions packs with full open hardware, software, and App. Hope these reference solutions will help fasten the development progress, enabling more home-brew IoT projects. We will release more info and release first batch of IoT toolkits after Spring festival.

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In 2012, Seeed will work with China Accelerator for the first hardware startup focused acceleration program HAXLR8R ! It will be a 111 days session based in Shenzhen and Bay Area. During those few weeks, we help teams transform themselves into functional companies by providing mentorship, seed funding and immersion into an intense startup community of like-minded entrepreneurs. At the end of the program teams have the opportunity to present their company to US-based investors during our HAXLR8R DAY.

HAXLR8R runs from March through June, with the last week spent in the Bay area. First stop will be Shenzhen, China, where you will finalize your prototype or work on scaling your business if you have a working model. Each week, you will meet with advisors that will offer feedback on your team’s concepts and prototypes, as well as provide valuable insight about how to scale a company in terms of manufacturing, supply chain management and distribution. The final 2 weeks of the program will be spent on getting your pitches awesome, as you will be heading back to the Valley for the big show. After that, go own your market, wherever that is!

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Since first time we visited Maker Faire, we are fascinated for the massive creativity and fun it combines. Makers are scattered in China too, just waiting for a chance to show themselves. Maker Faire would be a great portal for mingling DIY spirits across border.

Shenzhen is the manufacture center of electronics, but also the most technology advanced city in China. We could estimate the highest density of entrepreneurs and potential makers. It’s not an official announcement yet but we highly expect to have the first Maker Faire Shenzhen in April!

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Due to Hao, Fan, and Lit‘s effort for covering Seeed blog during most of 2011(thanks!), it’s been a while for me to bubble this much… Hope this could update you for Seeed’s efforts and some little dreams for the future.

THANK you dear customer/ partner/competitor for your great support! Seeed can’t survive without you! : )

Please excuse us for the upcoming vacations! zzzZZZ…