The Story of the 2015 Hackaday Prize

This week we’ve covered the Grand Prize and Best Product winners of the 2015 Hackaday prize: Eyedrivomatic and Vinduino. These are both amazing and worthy projects, but the real story of the Hackaday Prize isn’t about the prizes: it’s about nine months during which talented people worked toward a common good.

If you didn’t have a chance to attend the Hackaday SuperConference, here is the video of the ceremony. Take a look at the presentation which was made in front of a packed house of about 300 attendees. Then join us after the break for a look back on the last nine amazing months.

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Water-Saving Agricultural System Wins Best Product

The 2015 Hackaday Prize included something new: a prize for the Best Product. The winner took home $100k in funding, a six-month residency at the Supplyframe Design Lab in Pasadena, and help turning a budding product into a full-grown success. And the winner is…


vinduino-shot0007 Water is a crucial element for farming: the plants need enough, but not too much. Water is also an increasingly precious resource all over the world. In California, five times as much water is used in agriculture as is used by residential consumers. A 25% reduction in agricultural use, for instance, would entirely offset all urban water use. With this in mind, a number of California farmers are trying to voluntarily reduce their water consumption. But how?

One important development is targeted irrigation. Getting precisely the right amount of water to each plant can reduce the fraction lost to evaporation or runoff. It’s a small thing, but it’s a very big deal.

Cue Vinduino, a long-running project of “gentleman farmer” and hacker [Reinier van der Lee]. As a system, Vinduino aims to make it easy and relatively inexpensive to measure the amount of water in the soil at different depths, to log this information, and to eventually tailor the farm’s water usage to the plants and their environment. We were able to catch up with [Reinier] at the Hackaday SuperConference the day after results were announced. He shared his story of developing Vinduino and recounts how he felt when it was named Best Product:

The product that won Best Product is simple, but very well executed. It’s a hand-held soil moisture sensor reader that couples with a DIY soil probe design to create a versatile and inexpensive system. All of the 2015 Best Product Finalists were exceptional. Vinduino’s attention to detail, room for expansion, and the potential to help the world pushed this project over the top.

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The Gaze-Controlled Wheelchair that Won the Hackaday Prize

The 2015 Hackaday Prize challenged people to build something that matters. Specifically, to solve a problem faced by a lot of people and to make the solution as open as possible. If the average hacker can build it, it puts the power to vastly improve someone’s life in their hands. This is a perfect example of how powerful Open Design can be.

Patrick Joyce, Steve Evans, and David Hopkinson, developed a way to control an electric wheelchair using eye movements. The project, called Eyedrivomatic, is a set of non-invasive hardware modules that connect the wheelchair joystick with existing Eyegaze technology.

You’re probably already familiar with Eyegaze, which allows people suffering from diseases like MND/ALS to speak through a computer using nothing but their eyes. Eyedrivomatic extends this gaze control to drive a wheelchair. The catch is that the wheelchair’s user may not actually own the chair, and so permanent modifications cannot be made.

Thus Eyedrivomatic connects a wheelchair to the existing Eyegaze hardware without permanently altering either. This has never been done before, and the high level to which the team executed this project netted them the Grand Prize of the 2015 Hackaday Prize. The team will receive their choice of a Trip into Space or $196,883.

Check out their acceptance video, then join us after the break to learn what went into this amazing undertaking.

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Eyedrivomatic Wins the 2015 Hackaday Prize

Update: We’ve published an in-depth article about The Gaze-Controlled Wheelchair that Won the Hackaday Prize.

Eyedriveomatic are the Grand Prize winners of the 2015 Hackaday Prize. The winners were just announced on stage at the Hackaday Superconference, and awarded by the prize Judges. Eyedriveomatic is a non-invasive method of adding eye-control to powered wheelchairs. Many times these wheelchairs are rented and permanent alterations cannot be made. This inexpensive and easily adaptable hardware has the power to improve life for those who need more options for controlling powered wheelchairs.

We will be publishing more information about this year’s winners in the coming week. The full standings are listed below. Please check out all of the 2015 Hackaday Prize Finalist and the Best Product Finalists.

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Seeking Distinct Hardware Passion

This is it, the Hackaday SuperConference blasts into existence tomorrow. You should be there.

Hardware is passion. Hardware is art. Hardware is creation. Hardware is life. This is your mantra and this weekend is your one chance to connect in person with your community. At this very moment the people presenting 30+ spectacular hardware talks and hands-on workshops are headed to San Francisco to make it happen. They are joined by hundreds of Hackers, Designers, Engineers, Artists, and other Bohemians that make up something unique: a hardware conference that is actually about hardware creation.

You need to be a part of the SuperCon. It runs Saturday and Sunday at Dogpatch Studios. If you can’t make it for both days, block out your Saturday night for the Hackaday Prize Party. Starting at 5:30pm you can catch [Sprite_TM’s] talk, join a fireside chat with MythBusters veteran [Grant Imahara], be there live for the 2015 Hackaday Prize and Best Product award announcements, and then enjoy dinner and the celebration afterward. There is no charge to attend the Prize Party.

There is no better way to spend time than by exercising your passion. Don’t let the Hackaday SuperCon pass you by.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

Hackaday Prize Party this Saturday at the SuperConference

Last year marked the first-ever Hackaday Prize, where we challenged you to build a connected device so compelling that we’d send you to space. We awarded the Prize at a party following a day-long, multi-track hackathon in Munich, Germany. A great time was had by all.

This year, the Hackaday Prize itself is even bigger, the challenge even more ambitious, and the festivities are going to be even grander. So come join us in San Francisco this coming Saturday as we award the 2015 Hackaday Prize and throw a (free) prize party to celebrate!

The awards will be part of the first-ever Hackaday SuperConference. We’re bringing together the best minds in hardware hacking and there’s a place for you. The conference will be packed with hardware workshops, talks, food, and fun. (Don’t delay — you have three more days to buy a SuperConference ticket before prices double.) The super-charged scheduled of events have just been published.

judges-at-hackaday-prize-partyDirectly after the SuperConference, we’re opening the doors to everyone at 5:30pm — whether you’re attending the conference or not — for the presentation ceremony followed by the Hackaday Prize Party.  Many of our judges will be on hand to present the prizes and to socialize afterward: Elecia White, Lenore Edman, Windell Oskay, Ben Krasnow and Peter Dokter. Get your free Awards Ceremony ticket now!

As you know, the grand prize is a Trip to Space for the project most likely to help solve some of our hardest  challenges. Come cheer for your favorite!

Because we had so many polished projects last year, we’ve also expanded the Hackaday Prize in 2015 to include a Best Product award. Seven of the ten finalists will be on hand to find out who will go away with $100,000 in cash and a residency at the Supplyframe Design Lab in Pasadena. It’s going to be an exciting night.

Dinner is included with this free event, there will be a cash bar, and the music and festivities will carry on until 10:30pm. Please RSVP to help us plan the dinner arrangements. See you on Saturday!


The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

2015 Hackaday Prize Presentation Draws Near

The judges of the 2015 Hackaday Prize are hard at work right now to choose the five finalists who will receive the top prizes for the 2015 Hackaday Prize. The Judges for the Best Product have finished their work, and the announcements for all of these amazing engineering projects is just around the corner. We’ll be making the announcement in front of a live audience at the Hackaday SuperConference in just two weeks!

It has been amazing to see hundreds of people from the Hackaday Community who took time out of their lives to build something that matters and to document it as their entry. This has far-reaching benefits that will echo for years to come. No matter where your project finishes, standing up and saying “here’s something I built from an idea I had” is an amazing thing. Great work!

We are profoundly thankful for the visionary companies that sponsored the 2015 Hackaday Prize. Atmel, Freescale, Microchip, Mouser, and Texas Instruments made so much of this year’s prize possible. They recognize what it means to use Open Design; a philosophy that lets talented people pass on their skills by their engineering examples.

A big part of their support this year has gone to hosting live events. Hackaday Prize Worldwide was held in Chicago, Mumbai, Toronto, New York, Bangalore, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Shenzhen, New Delhi, Boston, Washington DC, Zurich, and Berlin. Their involvement continues with the presentation planned on Saturday November 14th at the Hackaday SuperConference.

Mouser Electronics has partnered with Grant Imahara of MythBusters fame. Grant is a talented roboticist who will have a talk and Q&A session at the SuperCon about his career. Microchip is giving away [Lucio Di Jasio’s] new book on microcontrollers to conference attendees. Atmel leapt at the opportunity to send development hardware for [Colin O’Flynn’s] workshop (he took Second Place in the 2014 Hackaday Prize), helping to lower the workshop cost for the participants.

Of course, it’s not just the events that were possible due to these sponsorship. Along with Supplyframe who presents the Hackaday Prize each year, these sponsors made the total prize package of about $500,000 a reality. It’s not everyday you can give away a trip into space as a Grand Prize and $100,000 for the Best Product. This is an amazing way to support the hardware ideals we live by and we applaud our sponsors for their meaningful involvement.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by: