Hack the Home

Live in Kentucky? Want to invent the next big thing for the kitchen, like the automated ice maker? Well, you’re in luck. GE is hosting a massive hackathon at their microfactory called FirstBuild which is located in Louisville, Kentucky. Unfortunately it looks like pre-registration is already closed.

The concept of FirstBuild is pretty cool. GE has created what they like to call a microfactory for innovating new products in small production runs to flush out good ideas. We’d call it more of a corporate hackerspace with some serious funding. Regardless of their motives, it’s still a cool concept. And they have some awesome toys, er, tools.

The event is being sponsored by lots of big names like Intel, Atmel, TI, Freescale, MakerBot and even Autodesk — and the prizes aren’t too shabby either! Though for the really big prizes you’ll need to stick with us.

We have to wonder — what happens when GE sees an idea they like? Hopefully it results in a sweet job.

19 thoughts on “Hack the Home

  1. “We have to wonder — what happens when GE sees an idea they like?”

    Probably something along the lines of they first to file a patent even if you invented it then if they actually feel like offering you a job, they make you assign all rights to them.

      1. And yet people will still enter and a small amount who have good ideas will exchange their ideas and development efforts for a few relatively small prizes and lose all rights to their efforts. Look, I get ideas are relatively cheap but developing said ideas is not and maybe the people with their ideas only want to take it so far and maybe having their concept taken further by a business with the resources to do so is mutually agreeable endeavor but this still feels really sleazy to me on several levels.

    1. A publicly demonstrated idea cannot be patented. As soon as it is publicly shown, it is considered “public knowledge”.
      So, as long as the inventor is careful to document the idea before showing it to them, and does not sign away any rights to the idea, then it is still their own invention.
      If the inventor is worried about someone taking the idea, then they should not enter it into one of these public events, and should not demonstrate it publicly at all, including Youtube or other means. The inventor can apply for a patent disclosure, and this gives them a good foothold in a later patent application process.

      If the inventor wants everyone to have the idea, they simply show the world through video / descriptive web entry BEFORE they enter the idea into one of these GE events.

        1. That only applies to two or more entities filing a patent disclosure or patent application. The one that gets it in first is the “inventor”.
          But because public knowledge can’t be patented, it would make no difference in this situation. The inventor simply files a disclosure before attending the public event.
          If the inventor doesn’t care, then publicly demonstrate the idea before attending the event.

          1. True. But better make sure the public demonstration is adequate to meet the test of sufficiency. Also be prepared to either practice your own patent law or hire a patent attorney to defend your right to exclusively prevent others from using your invention.

    1. AMEN.

      though, to be fair, every company wants their standard to be the universal standard so they don’t have to change anything. and most want licensing profits.

      I think it might be best if there were a new open source language to go with a standard API. Or maybe just an offshoot of an already known language. I’ve been curious about seeed7, personally.

    2. As I understand it the goal of “hacking the home” is to move the needle on the connected home landscape more toward open standards without a single player imposing one. Try things together, see what works and what makes sense and what doesn’t.

  2. This technology is in a quagmire, and it has been for 10 years now. Zigbee is a failed standard. The 802.15.4 radios are nicely designed, and have had lots of success in industrial applications, but only where they have tossed out the terrible Zibgee software and licensing standards. And no 802.15.4 radio ever made it into any smartphone, so isolation remains.

    I mean, look at remote controls. We still use IR LED remotes with no stateful control. The RF4CE standard has existed for years, and several vendors even give FREE implementations of it … and yet, no TV’s and no entertainment appliances actually use it. And, as far as I know, there’s no published control API’s for TV’s.

    Reflect on this: Bluetooth barely works. It found *one* major application in headsets. Functioning BT audio didn’t really make its way into consumer cars until two or three years ago.

    BTLE might be a solution, but getting sufficient device support rolled out (BT 4.1, 4.2) is slow going, and the usual feature smear is happening. Does device X vendor V support accessory Y in context Z, and so forth.

    Nest is trying to march down this road and become the central innovator for home automation, with Thread. But it won’t really work, since they are making all the same mistakes as Zigbee. You have to pay mega bucks to even see the standard and participate, add, or implement.

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