Human-Machine Interface Projects at TEI 2016

For many of us, interacting with computers may be as glorious as punching keys and smearing touch screens with sweaty fingers and really bad posture. While functional, it’s worth reimagining a world where our conversation with technology is far more intuitive, ergonomic, and engaging. Enter TEI, an annual conference devoted to human-computer interaction and a landmark for novel projects that reinvent the conventional ways we engage our computers. TEI isn’t just another sit-down conference to soak in a wealth of paper talks. It’s an interactive weekend that combines these talks with a host of workshops provided by the speakers themselves.

Last year’s TEI brought us projects like SPATA, digital calipers that sped up our CAD modeling by eliminating the need for a third hand, and TorqueScreen, a force-feedback mechanism for tablets and other handhelds.

Next February’s conference is no exception for new ways to interact with novel technology. To get a sense of what’s to come, here’s a quick peek into the past from last year’s projects:

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Come to our Shenzhen Meetup and Tell Your Friends

This Saturday we’ll be in Shenzhen hosting a meetup at Bionic Brew at 19:00. Join us there and bring along your own hardware projects to show around. Everyone loves hearing about that latest build!

Even if you’re not in the area you can help us out by spreading the word. Tell your friends, share on your social media, and let us know about anyone in town who you think we should reach out to. Here’ s a poster if you want to print it out and hang it at your hackerspace, workplace, or other area where awesome people congregate.

The things you can do at this meetup: Laugh, drink, eat, and be happy. Talk excitedly about datasheets and timing diagrams. Pretend you hate talking about timing diagrams while being secretly giddy that someone wants to hear what you think of them. Recount your epic battles to meet production deadlines. Show off that latest blinky LED project you just got working. Meet a ton of awesome people. You can RSVP here to tell us you’re coming. See you soon!

Meet us in Shenzhen

Hackaday Prize Worldwide is coming to Shenzhen, China at the end of next week! There’s lots to do, join us for as much of it as you can:

zero-to-productZero to Product Workshop

RSVP now for our Zero to Product workshop on Friday, June 19th. This is created and presented by [Matt Berggren] who shares his experience designing and laying out printed circuit boards professionally. A basic knowledge of electronics is all you need to get going and to lay out the dev board shown here!

Meetup and Share Your Hacks

logic-noise-booth-artHolding down an awesome booth at Maker Faire all day makes us weary. We’ll recharge our batteries on Saturday, June 20th starting at 7pm. Join us at Bionic Brew (please be kind and tell us you’re coming). As always, when we hang out we like to see, and show off, hacks. Bring something along if it’s easy to store in a pocket or backpack.

Build some Logic Noise at our SZMF Booth

Yep, we already mentioned it… we’ll be camped out at Shenzhen Maker Faire teaching people how to make music with logic chips. We’ve based the activity off of [Elliot Williams’] fantastic Logic Noise Series. Stop by, say hello and grab some stickers!


The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

Astronaut Or Astronot: Random Stuff For Random People

In case you’re not aware, we’re running a contest to send one lucky hacker into space. We’re already giving out $50k in prizes to entice the most worthy hackers to submit their project to the The Hackaday Prize. Now it’s time for community voting, and that means trotting out Astronaut Or Astronot, where you decide the best project for this week’s theme. Projects voted into the top ten for each theme will receive Hackaday Prize t-shirts.

But there’s something in it for you too. Everyone who votes in the community voting rounds will be eligible to win a $1000 gift card to The Hackaday Store.

Most Likely To Be Widely Used

This week’s round of community voting will decide which project entered into the Hackaday Prize will be the most likely to be widely used. Everyone on Hackaday.io gets 50 votes to pick the project that will be the most popular, most game changing, and most useful. Head on over to the voting page and spend those votes wisely.

Submit Your Entry For Community Feedback

We’ll be doing a new round of community voting as often as every seven days. Everyone registered on Hackaday.io gets 50 votes for each round of voting, and every Friday (around 20:00 UTC), we’ll randomly select one person registered on Hackaday.io. If that person has voted, they get a $1000 gift card for The Hackaday Store. If they haven’t vote — nothing.

So what do you need to get in on this action? Vote, obviously. We’ll be tracking which projects make it to the top of the list, and next week we’ll do it all over again. Enter your project now because we’re giving away a trip to space and hundreds of other prizes.

Hackaday Prize Worldwide LA: The Ultimate Workshop, Party, And Hackathon

The Zero to Product workshop, held at the Hackaday Design Lab in Pasadena two weeks ago, was a packed house of talented people seeking to expand their skill set with professional PCB layout tips and tricks. [Matt Berggren] didn’t disappoint, bringing his professional experience to the table in a way that anyone with basic electronic knowledge can grasp. Learning the things that make a board reliable and manufacturable can be done with a simple design. In the case, the culmination of the workshop is development board to host the ESP8266 WiFi modules that have been so popular over the last half-year.

This isn’t the first time we’ve pulled off a massive hardware hackathon and meetup, and it certainly won’t be the last. You have another chance to participate in the workshop in San Francisco on June 13th. If you can’t catch that one, we’ll be in Shenzhen for the Shenzhen Maker Fare, a Zero to Product workshop, and a meetup.

The completed ESP8266 breakout presented during the talk
The completed ESP8266 breakout presented during the talk

Of course Hackaday events are never “all work and no play”. The day crept into night and the the chairs were cleared out for hightop tables and tasty beverages. The atmosphere was festive and everyone still made it back early the next morning for an entire day of hardware hacking, tinkering, and general futzing around with circuits and electrons. If you check out [Rich Hogben]’s photo log of the weekend, you’ll find some an impressive collection of hackers were there. I see at least one person who’s job is flying space probes, a Hackaday Prize judge, and a security researcher who can crack a Master Lock in 30 seconds.

The display for [Steve]'s LIDAR
The display for [Steve]’s LIDAR

Bar-time Show and Tell

The meetup Saturday night wasn’t technically a bring-a-hack event, but we walwasy want to see people’s latest and greatest contraptions. [Steve Collins] brought a homebrew LIDAR. This project was based on a SparkFun Time of Flight breakout board that scans the room with a cheap hobby servo, reads the data into an Arduino and displays the rangefinding data on a small TFT. The LIDAR is good enough to scan the entire Hackaday Design Lab, with more than enough resolution for any robotics project you have in mind.

Also at the Saturday night gathering was our very own mythical creature [Sophi Kravitz], [Elecia White] who is and embedded.fm podcaster, engineer, and Hackaday Prize judge two years in a row, and [Samy Kamkar] known for his privacy and security research and for building the KeySweeper. They gave a series of lightning talks about the latest things they’re working on:

We rented Galaga and Ms. Pac Man machines for the entire weekend, but that wasn’t the only electronic entertainment for the party. Two Bit Circus was there with a game that could only be described as highly disorganized electronic chess. FLED, the exceedingly large, high-resolution RGB LED display was behind the bar, and Deezmaker took over a room to 3D scan people and print out miniature clones on a pair of 3D printers.

The Hackathon

The events continued on until Sunday evening with a hardware hackathon. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill software hackathon where people sit behind their MacBooks the entire time; we had soldering irons, components, solder, solder wick (important!) and dozens of hardware hackers tinkering away at their latest electronic doodad.

Foreground: A moisture vaporator
Foreground: A moisture vaporator
A vast assortment of dev boards
A vast assortment of dev boards

The amount of hardware on hand was spectacular. Hackaday Prize sponsors Atmel, Freescale, Microchip, and TI all provided some hardware. Everything from ATMega328 boards from Atmel, TI Launchpads bristling with goodies like the Sharp Memory Display booster packs, Seeed Studio starter packs, to insanely powerful Freescale Freedom boards were available to build on at the event. The Sunday hackathon also had several gigantic boxes from Mouser filled to the brim with components and breadboards available to everyone to clobber into submission, letting their inner electronics geek shine.
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chipWhen taking a break from the build there was plenty to look at. People were showing off already completed projects they brought along with them. [Jeff] from Circuitry & Poetry was there with a bunch of circuit bent synths. A number of people were also finishing up the ESP8266 breakout boards that were presented the day before; some soldering and some laying out a PCB in Eagle. It was an incredible event, with dozens of groups going off to do their own thing, but still welcoming to anyone else who wanted to tinker. This type of community isn’t found everywhere and we’re thankful for the people that make Hackaday events like this one so special.

We need to take the time to give a big shoutout to SGVHAK. We honestly couldn’t have done this event without them. I’d personally like to thank [Michael Proctor-Smith] for bringing his amazing livestreaming box. He is the reason I am not currently (still) editing down seven hours of video from the PCB design workshop and the lightning talks. Big ups to [Lan], [Scoops] and everyone else who helped out. If you came to the Hackaday event, check out their meetups. If you’re in the area, we also have regular informal meetups somewhere around the hackerspace. Come on out!


The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

Hackaday Prize Worldwide: Shenzhen

That’s right, we’re headed to the epicenter of electronics manufacturing next month: Shenzhen, China. We have a ton planned and this is the quick and dirty overview to get you thinking. If you are in the area (or are itching to travel) join us for a week of hardware hacker culture. Highlights for our tour include:

  • Meet Up on June 18th – (RSVP details coming soon)
  • Zero to Product PCB Workshop on June 19th – RSVP Now
  • Hackaday Talks presented at Maker Faire Shenzhen on June 19th and June 21st
  • Hackaday Booth at MFSZ on June 20-21

Zero to Product Workshop at MakerCamp Shenzhen

shenzhen-makercamp-drawingMakerCamp brings 30 talented Makers, Hackers, Designers, and Engineers together for a few days to build a makerspace inside of a shipping container.

We won’t be part of that build team (registration is open until 6/1 if you want to be). We will be supporting the event as part of the workshops that help celebrate the completion of the space. A mobile hackerspace full of interesting tools is one thing. But the sharing of knowledge, experience, and skill is what truly makes a hackerspace work.

zero-to-product-workshop-LAOur Zero to Product workshop created by [Matt Berggren] has been generating a ton of buzz and will be offered at Shenzhen MakerCamp.

RSVP for the Workshop

The workshop runs from 10am to 6pm on Friday, June 19th on the grounds of Maker Faire: Shenzhen. The event covers PCB design and at the end you will have laid out a development board for use with the ESP8266 WiFi module.

We were totally sold out for the workshop in LA a few weeks ago this is another chance to join in. If Shenzhen is a bit too far for you to travel, we are also planning the next installment in San Francisco on June 13th.

2015-bamf-meetupHackaday Shenzhen Meetup

If you just want to hang out, so do we! On the night of Thursday, June 18th we’ll be rolling into an area bar for a tasty beverage and a night of interesting conversation. As always, we want to see the hardware you’ve been working on. We do recommend bringing things that fit easily in your pocket or backpack since we’re meeting up to spend some time with other Hackaday community members in the area.

We don’t have the location nailed down for this one. Check this post again as we’ll be adding it here. And if you have a bar to suggest to us please leave a comment below.

The picture above is from just a few weeks ago. We had a huge turnout for the BAMF meetup. There was a ton of hardware on hand which makes for really easy conversation as you meet other hackers for the first time.

Talks by [Mike] and [Sophi] plus Booth at Maker Faire Shenzhen

[Mike] is giving a talk on Friday, June 19th about the power of Open Design to move education forward. [Sophi] will be presenting her talk on Sunday, June 21st about making stuff that matters and working on research equipment used to investigate the world around us such as solar, medicine and disease.

Come to the Faire to hear our talks, but make sure you swing by the Hackaday booth as well. We’ll be bringing some of our most favorite projects to exhibit but we can’t resist the opportunity to do something interactive. Stop by and build an oscillator, wire up a sequencer, and create your own rudimentary music based on [Elliot Williams’] series Logic Noise.

Tag Along with Hacker Camp Shenzhen?

hcsz2015-thumbnailOne of the adventures we’ve always wanted to take part in is Hacker Camp Shenzhen which is run by Hackaday alumnus and Hackaday Prize Judge [Ian Lesnet]. The week-long camp leverages [Ian’s] knowledge of the area, manufacturers, markets, and people to provide tours and workshops for those interested in manufacturing. It just so happens that HackerCamp lines up the same week as all of the Hackaday events. We can’t take part in the entire thing, but are hoping that we have a free day to meet up (and possibly tag along) with the HackerCamp crew.


The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

Levitating Objects In Paramagnetic Liquids

Two weekends ago was the Bay Area Maker Faire, and lacking a venue to talk to people who actually make things, we had a meetup at a pub. This brought out a ton of interesting people, and tons of interesting demos of what these people were building. By either proclivity or necessity, most of these demos were very blinkey. The demo [Grant McGregor] from Monterey Community College brought was not blinkey, but it was exceptionally cool. He’s levitating objects in paramagnetic liquids with permanent magnets.

Levitating objects in a paramagnetic solution around a magnetic field has been an intense area of research for the Whitesides Research Group for a few years now, with papers that demonstrate methods of measuring the density of objects in a paramagnetic solution and fixing diamagnetic objects inside a magnetic field. [Grant] is replicating this research with things that can be brought to a bar in a small metal box – vials of manganese chlorate with bits of plastic and very strong neodymium magnets. The bits of plastic in these vials usually float or sink, depending on exactly what plastic they’re made of. When the paramagnetic solution is exposed to a magnetic field, the density of the solution changes, making the bits of plastic sink or float.

It’s a bizarre effect, but [Grant] mentioned a nurd rage video that shows the effect very clearly. [Grant]’s further experiments will be to replicate the Whitesides Research Group’s experiment to fix a diamagnetic object inside a magnetic field. As for any practical uses for this effect, you might be able to differentiate between different types of plastic (think 3D printing filament) with just a vial of solution and a strong magnet.

[Grant] was heading out of the pub right when I ran into him, but he did stick around long enough to run into the alley behind the pub and record an interview/demo. You can check that out below.

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