Calling All Procrastinators

We have your number… you’re one who likes to while away the daylight hours, then make a mad effort throughout the night to finish everything before the sun again rises. In fact, that describes a lot of us Hackaday writers.

Put those well-honed cramming skills to good use this weekend, because Monday morning is the deadline to enter the 2016 Hackaday Prize. The current challenge is to show us your Assistive Technology. Prototyping some hardware to make life a little bit better for people dealing with a disability, to help those who are aging in place, to provide more widespread access to health care, and the like. We will pick 20 entries from this challenge to win $1000 each and become eligible for one of the five huge prizes.

Huge prizes you say? We’re talking about a grand prize of $150,000 and a residency at the Supplyframe Design Lab in Pasadena, plus four other cash prizes of $25k, $10k, $10k, and $5k. Twenty final projects have been chosen from each of the first four challenges, and there have already been over 1000 total entries! But your chances of pulling a rabbit out of the hat this weekend are still really good. So far there are just under 200 entries in this final challenge — twenty will move forward on Monday.

Call up your friends and stock up on Red Vines and Red Bull (Club Mate if you can get it). Occupy your hackerspace and get to work. If you are pulling all nighter’s in a bid to take Assistive Technology by storm, make sure you let us know on Twitter so we can follow along.

My Take on Assistive Tech for the Hackaday Prize

We’re in the last few weeks for entries in the 2016 Hackaday Prize — specifically the challenge is to show off your take on assisstive technology. This is a hugely broad category and I’ve been thinking about it for a while. I’m sure there’s a ton of low-hanging fruit that’s not obvious to everyone. This would be a great time to hit up the comments below and leave your “hey, I always thought someone should make…” ideas. I’m looking forward to reading them and it might just inspire someone to spend the next couple weeks hammering out a prototype to enter.

For me, it’s medication. I knew this can be a challenging problem having gone through a few cycles of prescription medicines in my life. But recently I helped out a family member who was suddenly on many medications taken on eight different times a day — including once, twice, three, and six times per day. This was further compounded by sleep deprivation (having to set alarms at night to take the medicine) and  drowsy/woozy effects from the medicine. I can tell you first hand that this is really tough for anyone to deal with and it’s incredibly easy to make a mistake or not be able to remember if you took a dose.

Pill Organizers Do No More or Less

We’ve seen a number of pill organizers before and that’s what I reached for in this case. However, that organizer only had four slots for each day. I didn’t hack it (other than writing on the doors with a Sharpie for when to take each) but even if there were added buttons or LEDs I’m not convinced this would be a marked improvement.

What you see above is my proposal for the medicine problem. Smartphones have become ubiquitous and the processing power and cameras of even budget phones are mind blowing. I think it is entirely possible to write an app that uses computer vision to recognize pills and sync them with the schedule. This may mean whipping the phone out of your pocket, or designing a pill box that has a phone stand next to it (saying that makes me think of using RPi and a Pi camera). Grab your pills and validate them under the camera.

Useful Augmented Reality

The screen of the phone would use augmented reality to overlay information about the pills it sees — you know, like Pokemon Go but in a way that enriches your life. ‘pills, catch ’em all!’ — new pills can be learned of the fly, delivering the user to a screen to identify the pill and the dosing schedule. Taking the validation picture will record when the medicine was taken, and the natural extension of this systems is a pharmacy’s ability to push your dose schedule to your account when you pick up the prescription. A stretch goal would be keeping an eye out for interactions.

This is all very much like how hospitals do it — they’re scanning bar codes on the packaging and the patient bracelet and recording it. This would be an easier user experience and quite frankly I think companies already in this space (like Snapchat and Niantic) could whip this up in a single-day hackathon no problem.

Is it the perfect system? Maybe not. But there is no perfect system or we’d be using it by now. We need you, the world’s talent pool, to step up and make life a little better. Do it in prototype form by October 3rd and you’ll be eligible for one of twenty $1000 cash prizes and a chance at winning the Hackaday Prize. But even if you don’t build a single thing, one idea could be the spark that lets others change the world for the better. So let’s hear it!

A Better Way to Measure Your Impact on the World

Close your eyes and think of an electric wheelchair. What do you see? Is it sleek, futuristic, and elegant… worthy of the moniker: iChair? No, no it is not. It’s a boxy tank-like thing with grey knobbed wheels that is powered with lead-acid batteries. Why is that?

Obviously there are alternatives. Just yesterday I came across UPnRIDE (that name is sore on the eyes but speak it aloud and you’ll get it). It’s an electric wheelchair that converts into a standing position. And it looks comparatively sleek and modern. And it’s not the first time I’ve seen the idea before. One of my favorite articles over the years is still our coverage of Tek RMD, a similar standing robotic wheelchair design. So why is it I don’t see these in the wild? Why is it I only remember seeing the concept twice in four years?

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Hackaday Prize Entry: A One Hand Bottle Opener

For the next month, the Hackaday Prize is all about Assistive Technologies. You would think this means exoskeletons, 3D printed prosthetics, and better wheelchairs, and you’d be right. This project in the running for the Assistive Technologies portion of the prize isn’t what you would expect. It’s a brilliantly simple way to open a water bottle with one hand. Think of it as the minimum viable project for assistive technologies, and a brilliant use of a few 3D printed parts and some metric bolts.

The OHBO – the One Hand Bottle Opener – is just a simple 3D printed ring that fits over a water bottle. There’s a small arm attached with a few bolts that lock this ring onto the bottle. With this bottle opener attached, it only requires a simple twist of the wrist to open a screw-top bottle.

As you can see in the video below, this would be a fantastic device for anyone with one hand to keep around the fridge. Of course, like all good Hackaday Prize entries, all the files to recreate this build are available, with just a few bits of hardware required to complete the build.

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Hackaday Prize: 20 Projects That Are The Height Of Automation

Automation makes the world go around. Whether it’s replacing elevator attendants with buttons, replacing songwriters with computer algorithms, or giving rovers on Mars the same sense and avoid capability as a Tesla, Automation makes our lives easier and better. Today we’re excited to announce the twenty projects that best demonstrate the possibilities of Automation in the running for the 2016 Hackaday Prize. These projects tackled problems ranging from improving the common stepper motor to flying Lidar around a neighborhood on a gigantic ducted fan.

The winners of the Hackaday Prize automation challenge are, in no particular order:

If your project is on the list, congrats. You just won $1000 for your hardware project, and are now moving up to the Hackaday Prize finals where you’ll have a chance to win $150,000 and a residency at the Supplyframe DesignLab in Pasadena.

Assistive TechnologiesIf your project didn’t make the cut, there’s still an oppurtunity for you to build the next great piece of hardware for The Hackaday Prize. The Assistive Technologies Challenge is currently under way challenging you to build a project that helps others move better, see better, or live better.

We’re looking for exoskeletons, a real-life Iron Man, a better wheelchair, a digital braille display, or the best educational software you can imagine.

Like the Design Your ConceptAnything GoesCitizen Science, and Automation rounds of the the Hackaday Prize, the top twenty projects will each win $1000 and move on to the Hackaday Prize finals for a chance to win $150,000 and a residency at the Supplyframe DesignLab in Pasadena

If you don’t have a project up on, you can start one right now and submit it to the Hackaday Prize. If you’re already working on the next great idea in assistive technologies, add it to the Assistive Technologies challenge using the dropdown menu on the sidebar of your project page.

The Hackaday Prize is the greatest hardware competition on Earth. We want to see the next great Open Hardware project benefit everyone. We’re working toward that by recognizing people who build, make, and design the coolest and most useful devices around.

Let’s Make Life A Little Better

Chances are you’ve spent a lot of time trying to think of the next great project to hit your workbench. We’ve all built up a set of tools, honed our skills, and set aside some time to toil away in the workshop. This is all for naught without a really great project idea. The best place to look for this idea is where it can make life a little better.

I’m talking about Assistive Technologies which directly benefit people. Using your time and talent to help make lives better is a noble pursuit and the topic of the 2016 Hackaday Prize challenge that began this morning.

Assistive Technology is a vast topic and there is a ton of low-hanging fruit waiting to be discovered. Included in the Assistive Technology ecosystem are prosthetics, mobility, diagnostics for chronic diseases, devices for the aging or elderly and their caregivers, and much more. You can have a big impact by working on your prototype device, either directly through making lives better and by inspiring others to build on your effort.

Need some proof that this is a big deal? The winners of the 2015 Hackaday Prize developed a 3D printed mechanism that links electric wheelchair control with eye movement trackers called Eyedrivomatic. This was spurred by a friend of theirs with ALS who was sometimes stuck in his room all day if he forgot to schedule a caregiver to take him to the community room. The project bridges the existing technologies already available to many people with ALS, providing greater independence in their lives. The OpenBionics Affordable Prosthetic Hands project developed a bionic hand with a clever whiffletree system to enable simpler finger movement. This engineering effort brings down the cost and complexity of producing a prosthetic hand and helps remove some of the barriers to getting prosthetics to those who need them.

The Is the Stove Off project adds peace of mind and promotes safe independence through an Internet connected indicator to ensure the kitchen stove hasn’t been left on and that it isn’t turned on at peculiar times. Pathfinder Haptic Navigation reimagines the tools available to the blind for navigating their world. It uses wrist-mounted ultrasonic sensors and vibration feedback, allowing the user to feel how close their hands are to objects. Hand Drive is another wheelchair add-on to make wheeling yourself around a bit easier by using a rowing motion that doesn’t depend as much on having a strong hand grip on the chair’s push ring.

Assistive TechnologiesIn most cases, great Assistive Technology is not rocket science. It’s clever recognition of a problem and careful application of a solution for it. Our community of hackers, designers, and engineers can make a big impact on many lives with this, and now is the time to do so.

Enter your Assistive Technology in the Hackaday Prize now and keep chipping away on those prototypes. We will look at the progress all of the entries starting on October 3rd, choosing 20 entries to win $1000 each and continue onto the finals. These finalists are eligible for the top prizes, which include $150,000 and a residency at the Supplyframe Design Lab, $25,000, two $10,000 prizes, and a $5,000 prize.

Hackaday Prize Entry: Shakelet

A person who is deaf can’t hear sound, but that doesn’t mean they can’t feel vibrations. For his Hackaday Prize entry, [Alex Hunt] is developing the Shakelet, a vibrating wristband for that notifies hearing impaired people about telephones, doorbells, and other sound alerts.

To tackle the difficulty of discriminating between the different sounds from different sources, [Alex’s] wants to attach little sound sensors directly to the sound emitting devices. The sensors wirelessly communicate with the wristband. If the wristband receives a trigger signal from one of the sensors, it alerts the wearer by vibrating. It also shows which device triggered the alert by flashing an RGB LED in a certain color. A first breadboard prototype of his idea confirmed the feasibility of the concept.

After solving a few minor problems with the sensitivity of the sensors, [Alex] now has a working prototype. The wristband features a pager motor and is controlled by an ATMEGA168. Two NRF24L01+ 2.4 GHz wireless transceiver modules take care of the communication. The sound sensors run on the smaller ATTiny85 and use a piezo disc as microphone. Check out the video below, where Alex demonstrates his build:

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