The 2021 Hackaday Prize begins right now. Tap into your creativity and build your piece of a better future on the topics of supportive technology, everyday robotics, imaginative displays, and work-from-home innovations.
Now in its eighth year, the Hackaday Prize is a global engineering initiative that seeks out new and interesting uses of electronics and other technologies with an eye toward open source/open hardware and a goal of getting your creations out into the world.
The grand prize winner will receive $25,000 and a residency at the Supplyframe Design Lab. In addition to top prizes for the second through fifth place winners, 50 finalists will each receive a $500 prize. But you don’t need to win the Hackaday Prize to take something away. This is your calling: spend time working on those abstract ideas and figuring out how they will fit into life tomorrow, next month, or next decade. Whether it changes peoples’ lives or just brings a smile to a few faces, every interesting step forward is an example where people had ideas so crazy they actually worked. Let’s get in on that!
There are five categories to target with your builds. If you have an idea kicking around, you can probably enter it this year.
Choose From Five Challenges
Rethink Displays: Screens are all around us, and unfortunately they’re most often begging us to stare at them and stop paying attention to the wider world. What about the information that’s nice to have handy but doesn’t demand you pull out and unlock your phone? Maybe what is normally an artistic wall hanging can now update itself with important daily reminders for you to notice while enjoying that morning coffee. The wall beside your front door is now your best friend advising you to take a jacket or umbrella. Or maybe there’s a more subtle way for customers waiting for help at your work to know what’s going on from the state of the surroundings in the waiting area.
Come up with a cool way to communicate information that isn’t just a push notification on that phone in your purse or pocket.
Refresh Work-From-Home Life: Being productive from home used to be novel, but suddenly it became a necessity for a huge number of people, from the adults who could no longer go into the office to the students who could no longer visit the classroom. Of course homes and workplaces are very different, no wonder it was a rocky transition. But a lot of good ideas made life more tolerable: from building offices in sheds to turning your laptop webcam into a document camera, we want to bubble up the good ideas.
Show us your ideas for carving out some space at home to make it feel like office or school, for bringing specialty equipment to life, and for managing your time and sanity when a change of physical location isn’t an option.
Reimagine Supportive Tech: Raise your hand if you’ve designed something without much thought toward how it feels to use the thing. Great ideas are only great if they actually get used, so let’s do the legwork on making things work for everyone. This could be an assistive technology to overcome physical challenges, or it could be ergonomics that make tasks easier for everyone. It might be hardware that helps better learn a skill or makes it easier to get high-end results with less than 10,000 hours of practice.
Think about time and labor savers, and think about designs that preserve precious resources.
Redefine Robots: Automation shouldn’t be dystopian; it should make sense. There’s already automation in your house that follows this mantra: both the dishwasher and the clothes washer were revolutionary time savers, and it turns out they are a great way to curb water waste. You could argue that they’re robots — not the brightest of robots, but something that’s able to operate automatically.
We want to see what other everyday automation makes a better future, from making changes around the house to keeping you company and cared-for. Get to work because everyone deserves a chance to benefit from our robotic future.
Reactivate Wildcard One of the biggest problems with setting goals for inventors is that it doesn’t leave room for the problems you didn’t realize needed solving. So all bets are off with the wildcard challenge. Just make sure you explain the problem you’re solving, how you solve it, and you’re set to go.
Out of Lockdown and Into the Future
An incredible opportunity lies in front of us. The global pandemic is a wake-up call to how we have lived our lives before and during. Now it’s time to decide what life can be after the pandemic has passed. Technology should work for all of us, and it’s up to all of us to show what that means.