We just wrapped up our best hackathon yet. Across the board we blew past our goals. I think it goes without saying that hardware is back. Hackers & inventors are everywhere and they are working very hard to make your world a better place.
First off, I need to thank Y Combinator and all of our peers in YC alumni companies that helped make this event happen. Without them this hackathon just wouldn’t have been possible.
A few months ago I was having a coffee with Paul Graham in Palo Alto. I was bragging about the latest release of Upverter and how it was now possible for us to host hardware hackathons, having hackers design hardware in hours instead of weeks (a huge requirement for a hackathon). I told him how awesome our other hackathons had been. Paul stopped me and said:
Wait, wait, wait… You can finally do all that? Do you want to do a hardware hackathon at YC?
We agreed that it’s still very early in the hardware renaissance, and that small communities need a focal point. We agreed that we should all be trying to help and if we could help in any way, it would be in getting everyone together in the same space and providing that focal point.
It turns out a hackathon is the perfect way to do that.
Over the last 2 months we’ve been working to make this hackathon happen. It all came to a head on Friday when three members of the Upverter flew team down to Mountain View, rendezvoused with about 20 other mentors, worked out out the flow of the event, got almost no sleep, showed up at YC at 7:30 (the morning one… ugh), and kicked off the biggest event we have ever thrown.
We spent the first 30 minutes frantically setting up power and network for ~200 people. 300+ outlets, 40 power strips, 15 extension cables, and 3 wireless networks…
About 50 team leaders start showing up. We go on a deep dive through the tools, the event, the workflow, judging, food, how to get help, and how to design hardware.
Leaders start soliciting team members and chasing down ideas. Ideation hits full stride. Teams start forming up.
COFFEE FINALLY SHOWS UP
The event kicks off. We all go through the entire event flow and logistics talk. We do a round of Q&A, and we wrap up with a 10 minute countdown to finish ideation & team building.
GO! With all but 2 hackers grouped into teams and all ideas tabled, the hack starts.
Lunch is served! (BBQ… Which is delicious!) Other than a lack of utensils everyone gets fed without a hitch.
1 hour left!
PENCILS DOWN! After 8.5 hours of solid hacking we break for dinner
DINNER IS SERVED! (Chinese.. Also delicious, and a bit spicy!)
Presentations begin. 60 seconds per team, tell us the problem/idea, what you wanted to do, what you actually did, and show us some design files or prototypes.
Presentations end. Judges confer. Hackers mingle.
GO HOME ALREADY!
Cleanup finished! High fives all around! Upverter locks up and heads out for an exhausted pint
Some numbers to paint a picture of who this event touched:
- 10K+ Pre-event reach
- 300 Applications
- 200 Invitations (limited by space)
- 132+ Attendees
- 32 Submitted hacks
- 30 Presentations
- 23 Mentors
- 11 Awards
1st Prize: Tactilus
The Tactilus is a haptic feedback glove for interacting with 3D environments. A series of cables applies pressure to the wearer’s fingers to resist their motion in response to pushing against a virtual object. When can I get my hands on one?
Runner Up: Baby Rocker
Why rock your baby to sleep yourself when you can have a robot do it for you? Prototyped with an electric can opener, the baby rocker rocks your baby gently to sleep with the push of a button in a mobile app.
Most Marketable Award: DIYNot
The DIYNot is a plug that goes in-line with any of your AC appliances (that draw 2 amps or less) and gives you the power to switch it on or off via a microcontroller (not included). The simple schematic give it an excellent part to prize ratio.
Vision Award: Circuit Checker
Circuit Checker is a tool for verifying the construction of your electronic devices. It analyzes files in the Upverter Open JSON Format and calculates the expected impedance at several nodes in the layout. The designer then uses the device to measure impedance at the calculated points and verify the construction of the device.
Presentation Award: Picture Toaster
The Instagram of Toast. Send it an image, and this magical toaster will burn it into the surface of the greatest thing ever invented – sliced bread. Jam and butter not included.
Utility Award: Window Blind Controller
We’ve all been there – the streetlights shine into your room at night and prevent you from sleeping, but if you close them, you’ll miss the sunrise and sleep in ‘till noon. Not with the Window Blind Controller! This handy device clips to your blinds and opens them automatically as morning approaches.
Assistive Technology Award: Walkmen
The Walkmen is an ultrasound virtual walking stick with haptic feedback for guiding blind and otherwise disabled people while they walk.
Wearable Technology Award: Body API
For the quantified self enthusiast who needs more than a step counter, the Body API is a comprehensive metric-gathering device that gives you the data you need to min/max real life.
Student Award: SeeTheLight
The $1500 price tag on Google Glass got you down? For students on a budget, these glasses made of laser-cut MDF help you find north by lighting up one of the embedded LEDs that most directly faces Santa’s Workshop. There’s no built-in video camera, but those are kinda creepy anyway.
Corportate Shill Award: Electric Imp / Twitter M&M
A candy dispenser upgraded with a sleek and sexy Electric Imp. It dispenses M&M’s in response to tweets, making it an invaluable addition to introductory psychology classes everywhere. Did we mention it was made by the team from Electric Imp?
Best Lockitron Knockoff Award: Spark
It’s like Lockitron for your lights! This ATMega-powered light switch adds Wi-fi to your home switches, giving you the power to prank your friends, confuse your neighbours, throw wicked lightswitch raves, and even do useful things like making sure you didn’t forget to turn your lights off.
Upverter Honorable Mention: Prism
These guys built themselves a Google Glass knockoff in 9 hours, complete with embedded display and gesture-based interactions, and didn’t even get an official award. We can’t stop talking about how cool their project is, though, so we’re giving them an Upverter Honorable Mention. Great work guys!
Thanks again to everyone that helped out!