FieldKit Is The Grand Prize Winner Of The 2019 Hackaday Prize

FieldKit, an open-source, modular sensor system for conducting research in harsh environments has just been named the Grand Prize winner of the 2019 Hackaday Prize. The award for claiming the top place and title of “Best Product” in this nine-month global engineering initiative is $125,000. Five other top winners and five honorable mentions were also named during this evening’s Hackaday Prize Ceremony, held during the Hackaday Superconference in Pasadena, California.

This year’s Hackaday Prize focused on product development. From one good idea and a working prototype, entrants were encouraged to iterate on their UX, industrial design, ergonomics, software, and mechanical plans as they worked toward a product that is both manufacturable and meets the needs of the user it has been designed for. Out of twenty finalists, the top eleven are covered below. Over $200,000 in cash prizes have been distributed as part of this year’s initiative where thousands of hardware hackers, makers, and artists compete to build a better future.

Best Product: FieldKit

FieldKit is the Grand Prize winner of the 2019 Hackaday Prize. This versatile, ruggedized sensor suite is designed for research projects in difficult environments. By striking a balance between custom-designed sensors and off-the-shelf systems, FieldKit addresses issues of cost and availability by embracing a modular concept — both hardware and software — and making the designs open source. Named “Best Product”, FieldKit receives a $125,000 award for taking the top spot in this year’s Prize.

Conducting scientific research shouldn’t require that you also have a background in electrical and computer engineering. FieldKit has done extensive UX/UI testing so that the hardware is simple to set up using modules for your sensor and communication needs, along with a website, app, and export options that make collecting and utilizing the data an intuitive and frustration-free experience. As an open source project, researchers who design their own custom hardware modules are invited to also share those designs for the benefits of others.

3D Printed Prosthesis with CV, BCI and EMG

This prosthetic arm has a mind of its own, capable of assisting the user beyond rudimentary motion. By embedding a camera in the palm of the prosthesis, Computer Vision is used to identify objects and choose from the stored grip methods. When trying to grip a beverage can, the CV system will identify it and adjust the wrist angle to keep it aligned as the angle of the arm changes during the reaching movements. The hardware design is modular and other inputs include Electromyography and BCI. Recognized for Best Concept, this project is awarded a cash prize of $10,000.

DLT One – A Damn Linux Tablet!

While some are still waiting for the age of the Linux desktop, this project moves past that and achieves an open design for a Linux-based tablet. Goals of the project focus on sidestepping the OS lock-in present in many consumer tablets, and delivering a hardware design that is both repairable and upgradable — traits currently absent in all consumer tablets. Recognized for Best Design, this project is awarded a cash prize of $10,000.

Axiom: 100+kW Motor Controller

Jumping in to provide a non-proprietary option for high-power motor control, Axiom is capable of driving 100-kW-class 3-phase motors. Able to provide 300 A at 400 V, Axiom is a formidable open-source option for use in electric vehicles. The control of the hardware is assigned to an ice40 FPGA using an open source toolchain, making this truly one controller to rule them all. If the standard functionality doesn’t suit your needs, the flexibility of the FPGA can be plied to meet the specification you desire. Recognized for Best Production, this project is awarded a cash prize of $10,000.

Knobo: A Keyboard for Learning Braille

For a visually impaired people the ability to read Braille can unlock better employment opportunities, higher incomes, and greater engagement in reading as a hobby. But learning Brille remains a tripping point throughout the world. Knobo is a USB Braille peripheral with a goal of increasing Braille literacy. Knobo uses the six bits of a Braille character to help practice learning the characterset to a point where they can then transition to a full Braille keyboard or other traditional Braille writer. Recognized for Best Benchmark, this project is awarded a cash prize of $10,000.

SmallKat: An adorable dynamics oriented robot cat

SmallKat is designed to get a platform for advanced robotics into the hands of people who will be developing the world’s next evolution of robots. This is a dynamic robotics platform that gathers feedback about its own motion and possesses the processing capabilities to correct for problems in real time. It’s the kind of thing that keeps a robot on its feet rather than in a pile on the floor and SmallKat lets students get their feet under them when it comes to building robots that can walk. Recognized for Best Communication, this project is awarded a cash prize of $10,000.

Honorable Mentions:

One project in each category of this year’s Hackaday Prize was also selected to receive an honorable mention. Each of these entries is awarded a $3,000 cash prize for their accomplishments.

Congratulations to all who entered the 2019 Hackaday Prize. As the manufacturing sectors of the world have begun to open up to individuals and small teams, you are building a roadmap to get from the prototyping workbench to the production line. This lets more people level up and gives their good ideas the chance to make a wider impact. Together, we can grow the engineering community and help one another Build Something that Matters.

The Dyson Awards Definitely Do Not Suck

Named after British inventor James Dyson of cyclonic vacuum cleaner fame, the Dyson Awards are presented annually to current and recent students of engineering, industrial design, and product design, regardless of age. Students from 27 countries work alone or in groups to describe their inventions, which are then judged for their inventiveness, the production feasibility of their design, and the overall strength of the entry itself.

Much like our own Hackaday Prize, the Dyson Awards encourage and highlight innovation in all areas of science and technology. Some ideas help the suffering individual, and others seek to cure the big problems that affect everyone, like the microplastics choking the oceans. The Hackaday spirit is alive and well in these entries and we spotted at least one Hackaday prize alum — [Amitabh]’s Programmable Air. I had fun browsing through everything on offer, and you will too. This is a pretty good source of design inspiration.

Continue reading “The Dyson Awards Definitely Do Not Suck”

Announcing The “Take Flight With Feather” Contest

The Adafruit Feather is the latest platform for microcontroller development, and companies like Particle, Sparkfun, Seeed Studios, and of course Adafruit are producing Feather-compatible devices for development and prototyping. Now it’s your turn! The Take Flight With Feather contest challenges you to design a board to fit in the Feather ecosystem, with the grand prize of having your boards manufactured for you and listed for sale on Digi-Key.

To get started, take a look at the current Feather ecosystem and get acquainted with this list of examples. From there, get to work designing a cool, useful, insane, or practical Feather. But keep in mind that we’re looking for manufacturability. Electron savant Lady Ada will be judging each board on the basis of manufacturability.

What’s a good design? We’re looking for submissions in the following categories:

  • The Weirdest Feather — What’s the most ridiculous expansion board you can come up with?
  • You’ll Cut Yourself On That Edge — We’re surrounded with bleeding-edge tech, what’s the coolest use of new technology?
  • Retro Feather — Old tech lives on, but can you design a Feather to interact with it? Is it even possible to build a vampire Ethernet tap or an old acoustically-coupled modem?
  • Assistive Tech — Build a Feather to help others. Use technology to improve lives.
  • Wireless Feather — Add a new wireless technology to the Feather ecosystem

In addition to the grand prize winner, five other entries (one in each of the 5 categories above) will receive $100 Tindie gift certificates. The contest begins now and runs through December 31st. To get started, start a project on and use the “Submit Project To” dropdown box on the left sidebar of your project page to enter it in the contest.

Hackaday Prize China Finalists Announced

In the time since the Hackaday Prize was first run it has nurtured an astonishing array of projects from around the world, and brought to the fore some truly exceptional winners that have demonstrated world-changing possibilities. This year it has been extended to a new frontier with the launch of the Hackaday Prize China (Chinese language, here’s a Google Translate link), allowing engineers, makers, and inventors from that country to join the fun. We’re pleased to announce the finalists, from which a winner will be announced in Shenzhen, China on November 23rd. If you’re in Shenzen area, you’re invited to attend the award ceremony!

All six of these final project entries have been translated into English to help share information about projects across the language barrier. On the left sidebar of each project page you can find a link back to the original Chinese language project entry. Each presents a fascinating look into what people in our global community can produce when they live at the source of the component supply chain. Among them are a healthy cross-section of projects which we’ll visit in no particular order. Let’s dig in and see what these are all about!

Continue reading “Hackaday Prize China Finalists Announced”

Connected World Contest: Four Top Winners Announced

We love seeing the astonishing array of projects large and small entered into Hackaday contests which push the boundaries of what is possible. Our latest has been the Connected World contest which was announced back in June, and today we’re pleased to bring you its four top winners. As a recap, the brief was to create something that connects wirelessly and shows a blend of creativity and functionality. The final four have a diverse range of applications, and here they are with their respective categories:

Continue reading “Connected World Contest: Four Top Winners Announced”

The Gorgeous Hardware We Can’t Take Our Eyes Away From

High resolution digital cameras are built into half of the devices we own (whether we want them or not), so why is it still so hard to find good pictures of all the incredible projects our readers are working on? In the recently concluded Beautiful Hardware Contest, we challenged you to take your project photography to the next level. Rather than being an afterthought, this time the pictures would take center stage. Ranging from creative images of personal projects to new ways of looking at existing pieces of hardware, the 100+ entries we received for this contest proved that there’s more beauty in a hacker’s parts bin than most of them probably realize.

As always, it was a struggle to narrow down all the fantastic entries to just a handful of winners. But without further adieu, let’s take a look at the photos that we think truly blurred the line between workbench and work of art:

Continue reading “The Gorgeous Hardware We Can’t Take Our Eyes Away From”

Wimbledon 2019: IBM’s Slammtracker AI Technology Heralds The Demise Of The Human Player

Whilst we patiently wait for the day that Womble-shaped robots replace human tennis players at Wimbledon, we can admire the IBM powered AI technology that the organisers of the Wimbledon tennis tournament use to enhance the experience for TV and phone viewers.

As can be expected, the technology tracks the ball, analyses player gestures, crowd cheers/booing but can’t yet discern the more subtle player behaviour such as serving an ace or the classic John McEnroe ‘smash your racket on the ground’ stunt. Currently a large number of expert human side kicks are required for recording these facets and manually uploading them into the huge Watson driven analytics system.

Phone apps are possibly the best places to see the results of the IBM Slammtracker system and are perfect for the casual tennis train spotter. It would be interesting to see the intrinsic AI bias at work – whether it can compensate for the greater intensity of the cheer for the more popular celebrities rather than the skill, or fluke shot, of the rank outsider. We also wonder if it will be misogynistic – will it focus on men rather than women in the mixed doubles or the other way round? Will it be racist? Also, when will the umpires be replaced with 100% AI?

Finally, whilst we at Hackaday appreciate the value of sport and exercise and the technology behind the apps, many of us have no time to mindlessly watch a ball go backwards and forwards across our screens, even if it is accompanied by satisfying grunts and the occasional racket-to-ground smash. We’d much rather entertain ourselves with the idea of building the robots that will surely one day make watching human tennis players a thing of the past.