Cromatica is a Bluetooth speaker and lamp combo. That's kinda cool. It's also based on arduino, so you can hack it to respond to your own wishes. Even better! It's also not bad to look at, thanks to its stylish, Italian design. But the big story with Cromatica is that it's the first product to come out from a new crowdfunding platform that's designed specifically for homegrown tech hardware -- a project that could invigorate the already lively maker community in the UK.
Somewhere deep in the belly of London's iconic Somerset House, via an inconspicuous trade entrance, you'll find Makerversity -- a space where makers can transform ideas into products, or at least into prototypes. What really turbo-charges things, however, is the fact that Makerversity is working with with a crowdfunding platform, called Crowdrooster, which sits inside the same wing of the building. This potentially makes a small corner of WC2 the new hotbed for indie product designers, builders, makers and glue-fingered entrepreneurs.
Step inside Makerversity, and it's like walking into the the ultimate geek-cave. Think rented work space for people who are more power tools, than Powerpoint. Walk around the (sometimes labyrinthine) interior and you'll see desks laden with 3D printers, "messy" workshops and dedicated studio space -- all of which are available to members. Upstairs is where Crowdrooster lives, and by working closely with Makerversity, ideas can go from brain, to prototype, to fully-funded enterprise all under the same roof. Crowdrooster tells us that a benefit of being located on-site, is that it can assist makers with all the obstacles associated with upscaling its manufacturing, without the slow back and forth, you might get with a remote organisation. Crowdrooster is also trying to differentiate itself from other funding sites by focusing specifically on the maker community/hardware-only projects. Think "Kickstarter for makers," and you'd be mostly right. Despite its prestigious river-side location (the view only spoiled by streams of lunchtime city joggers obscuring it), desk space at Makerversity remains competitive.
Of course, you don't have to put your product through Crowdrooster if you choose to work from the Makerversity, nor must your idea originate from Makerversity for it to be placed on Crowdrooster -- but there's no denying that the combination of space, access to tools and funding resources could make this corner of London an exciting addition to the UK's maker movement. The team behind Cromatica, for example, didn't develop their product from the Somerset House location, but were still extremely excited about that future projects could come to life from this collaboration. While Crowdrooster has only just launched its first campaign (that'd be Cromatica), there's already another five hand-picked projects ready to go, and with the Makerversity members breathing the same air, providing a steady stream of prototypes, it'll no doubt be eager to capitalise on that, as part of its efforts to establish itself as the the shop window for the UK makerverse.