Danny Kleinman does not fit the stereotype for a hacker. He’s clean, social, and even has a girlfriend. Yet, according to The Herald, the electronics in his living room are all hacked.

Aiming his smartphone at a lamp, he controls the light with the volume controls. Up, on. Down, off. He tells his TV “Discovery Channel,” and there’s the Discovery Channel. He even programmed the lights in his bedroom to wake him up.

“Isn’t this cool?” he says, clearly giddy.

Kleinman is a maker, a word derived from Make Magazine, the glossy bible of everyday hackers using social networks, do-it-yourself-then-show-it-off websites, cheap parts from China, and blissfully simple microprocessors to modify or invent new electronic products for their houses, cars, offices and backyards.

Recent studies show consumers now spend more money inventing stuff than consumer product firms spend on research and development. It’s more than $3.75billion a year in Britain, and current U.S. studies show similiar patterns. Makers are even morphing into entrepreneurs, with some of the best projects, including Kleinman’s, raising money for commercial development of self-funding websites such as Kickstarter, where anyone with a credit card can chip in to back cool ideas.

“Policymakers and economists always assumed that consumers just consumed and that they don’t innovate,” said Eric von Hippel, who studies technological innovation and makers at MIT’s business school. “What’s clearly happening now is that all of a sudden it’s easier for us to make exactly what we want.”

Photo by Expert Infantry

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