Meet the Maker : Al Linke

Who is the designer of these fabulous electronic products that I’m using?  How did he/she become a cooperated designer of Seeed?  Where does his/her aspiration come from?  Do you know the designer of the product that you’re using?  Want to know more about the designers?  No problem.  We will carry out an interview with our cooperated designers.  And the interview will be posted as “Face to Face with Designers” in Seeed Blog.

This time, we interviewed Al Linke whose designs include DIY Magic Mirror and Droidalyzer.  Here is the interview:

Q: Your design, the DIY Magic Mirror,won the Tech Grand Prize in the 2008 DIY Halloween Contest, how did you feel when you first got the news? What was your first reaction?

Al:  That was really exciting. It was the first time posting one of my projects. The community feedback was so positive, that was the inspiration to turn the project into a kit.

Q、Why did you design the  Magic Mirror? Where did your inspiration come from?

Al:  I was building a playhouse for my two girls in my backyard. I wanted to do something high tech as part of the build that the girls could interact with.

Q、Did you have any anticipation that the design would win such a prize?

Al:  No, not at all

Q、What was your favorite game when you were a little boy? Did it have any influence on you being a “tinkerer” today?

Al:  Nothing comes to mind as a favorite but I do remember taking apart everything I could get my hands on. I guess that’s where it all started.

Q、In your opinion, what are the differences and similarities between being an IT director and a tinkerer?

Al:  They’re both high tech which I love. Tinkering is definitely more creative, it’s a nice outlet for me.

Q、What do you think is the most difficult thing to handle in the process of designing something?

Al:  Since I have a day job, I can only work on the designs in my spare time and weekends. Juggling the passion and the amount of time spent on the projects with family is the toughest part. If you’re not careful, it can really consume you.

Since I really don’t have a lot of time, this is one of the great things about working with Seeed Studio. Seeed takes care of manufacturing, web store, shipping and even design in some cases for me. That’s a tremendous help.

Q、What do you expect from your designs? Do you have any solid goals for the near future?

Al:  They are labors of love. As long as people like them and perhaps learn a little in the process, I’m happy.

Q、What do you do when you’re frustrated?

Al:  As part of every design, they’re always a low point. There’s no secret sauce, you just have to bunker down and work your way through it. The great thing about open source though is chances are someone else has already solved your problem or something similar. Leveraging the open source community really helps during these times.

Q: You have a new design coming out called the  Droidalyzer, tell us a little about that one.

Al:  I’d been playing around with alcohol sensors and liked the idea of combining an alcohol detector with a smart phone. The Droidalyzer is a Bluetooth enabled alcohol detector and includes an associated Android phone app.

What I think is unique about the Droidalyzer though is that it doubles as a full blown IOIO development board so you can use it to make other things. IOIO (pronounced “yo-yo”) is similar to Arduino and is very good for interfacing Android with external sensors. The creator of IOIO, Ytai Ben-Tsvi, was kind enough to let me use IOIO in this design.

Well, that’s all for this interview with Al^^ If you have other questions to ask Al Linke, welcome to post your questions here:)

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June 2012