Hackaday Prize Entry: Humidifeyes

Most of the entries in the Hackaday Prize Assistive Technology challenge solve an obvious problem. 3D printed prosthetics, a computer mouse for the mouth, and text to speech systems all have obvious uses. For his Hackaday Prize entry, [spandana] decided on something a little less obvious. He’s going after the scourge of dry eyes with Humidifeyes.

The problem of dry eyes seems a bit esoteric at first glance, but [spandana] is specifically designing this device for people with Steven Johnson’s Syndrome. It’s been mentioned that LASIK patients have dry eyes for months. There is, apparently, an opportunity here.

The mechanics of the device are pretty simple. The current prototype uses off the shelf safety glasses with a little foam around the edges as a chassis. Moisture is delivered from a reservoir to an ultrasonic vibrator. This is a very effective way to atomize liquids, and is small enough to fit on the frame of a pair of glasses.

Although this is the sort of project that’s just a bit weird and allows for too many puns, there’s the glimmer of something useful in here. Dry eyes are a problem, and short of a bottle of Visine, there’s not much to do about it.

Hackaday Prize Entry: Bilateral Brain Stimulator

In 1987, an American psychologist found voluntary eye movements reduced the intensity of negative thoughts. This is the basis of EMDR, or Eye Movement and Reprocessing Desensibilization, and if it sounds too oogie-boogie to be real, I assure you there are even oogier and boogier techniques in psychology that actually work.

[David]’s entry to the Hackaday Prize is a device that helps psychologists apply EMDR for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorders. To do this, the psychologist asks the patient to describe a traumatic incident while the patient makes eye movement. According to the literature, this facilitates the connection between the cerebral hemispheres and decreases the emotional burden.

If simply moving your eyes back and forth while reliving your greatest horrors is enough, what’s with the hardware? [David]’s project is just a few LEDs that help enable eye movement. With a linear array of LEDs controlled by a shift register and a PIC microcontroller, this device is just enough to make a patient glance from left to right to left over and over again.

It’s a good project, made even better by the fact that [David]’s sister, a psychotherapist and EMDR practitioner, asked [David] to create an electronic device for this technique. [David]’s already produced a video on his device, and you can check that out below.

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Hackaday Prize Entry: Smart Bed Lighting

[Scott] is building motion-activated lights for under the bed for his Hackaday Prize entry. Admittedly, there are fancier projects for the ‘Assistive Technology’ portion of the prize, but this project helps anyone who would otherwise stumble around in the dark. And as [Scott] jokes, that includes a number of underserved demographics including accident prone people, children afraid of the dark, drunks, and, “drunk accident prone children who are afraid of the dark”.

Although the idea of mounting LEDs under a bed is simple, the devil is in the details. [Scott] is using a PIR sensor to turn these hidden lights on and off when getting into or out of bed. An RTC ensures the LED strip will only be on during the desired hours. In [Scott]’s case, this means from 9PM to 7AM. When movement is detected at the foot of the bed, the lights remain on for about two minutes.

This is a fairly simple project compared to some of the entries we’ve seen in the Hackaday Prize, but it does have a purpose. It’s a great way to scare a child into believing there are monsters under a bed, and it every so slightly reduces the chances of a drunk stubbing their toe. [Scott] produced a video for this project, you can check that out below.

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Hackaday Prize Entry: A Cluster Of Exoskeletons

The current trend of 3D printed prosthetic hands have one rather large drawback: you can’t use them if you already have two hands. This might seem like a glib objection, but one of last week’s Hackaday Prize posts pointed this out rather well – sometimes a meat machine needs mechanical assistance.

BEOWULF, [Chad Paik]’s entry for the Hackaday Prize, is the answer to this problem. It’s a mechanical exoskeleton for grip enhancement, stroke rehabilitation, and anyone else that doesn’t have the strength they need to get through the day.

This project solves the problem of weak arm strength through – you guessed it – 3D-printed parts, a linear actuator on the forearm, and a few force sensors on the fingertips. Control is obtained through a Thalmic Labs Myo, but the team behind the BEOWULF is currently working on a custom muscle activity sensor that is more compact and isn’t beholden to VC investors. You can check out a video of this exoskeleton below.

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Hackaday Prize Entry: A Big, Inexpensive 3D Printer

When it comes to 3D printers, most machines you’ll see are pretty small. The Ultimaker, Prusa, Lulzbot, and the Rostock Max are desktop devices. While they have entirely usable build volumes, you’re not printing furniture with these machines. Yes, large format 3D printers exist, like the SeeMeCNC Part Daddy (they’ll build you one for ~$90,000, IIRC), a house printer that uses concrete, and a number of very large printers from various other manufacturers with very high price tags.

There is no 3D printer designed to print large objects without spending tens of thousands of dollars on a machine. That’s the focus of this Hackaday Prize entry. [RigTig]’s Big 3D Printer is designed to be big, but also inexpensive.

A big, inexpensive 3D printer can’t use the usual machine setups seen in other large format printers. Big machines with traditional kinematics demand big pieces of aluminum, counterweights, and a design that might spiral out of control. Instead of a thousand pounds of metal, [RigTig] is using something like the Skycam system seen at every NFL game; put a few towers up at the corners of a triangle, run some string or cable through some pulleys, and you have a simple, light movement platform.

With the machine side of the problem figured out, the next question is what material to use. [RigTig] has decided plastic filament is impractical because of cost. A clay extrusion system has a lot of problems. Concrete is a good idea, but the prints would weigh several tons. Right now, [RigTig] is planning on using dirt with a polymer binder. It’s an interesting idea, and one we haven’t seen elsewhere.

Building a 3D printer from scratch is easy. Building a huge 3D printer is one of the most interesting engineering challenges out there. Not only do you need a motion platform that can make it work, but you also need to print in a material that is cheap enough and prints fast enough for the printer to make sense. We don’t know if [RigTig] is on the right track yet, but we’re glad to see him put in the effort for this excellent addition to the Hackaday Prize.

Hackaday Prize Entry: A Modern, Universal Power Glove

The Nintendo Power Glove was one of the amazing 1980s experiments in alternative user interfaces for video games. It was bad. It was cool, but it was bad. Recently, interest in the Power Glove has grown thanks to an amazing stop motion animator. Prices of these gloves have gone through the roof, and the Power Glove is in the middle of a resurgence not seen since the feature-length motion picture advertisement for Super Mario Bros. 3.

[Nolan Moore] is a fan of the Power Glove, and after finding a highly collectible new in box Power Glove, he decided to take this wearable to the next level. It’s now sporting custom circuit boards, it can control a drone, and talks wirelessly to every device on the planet. It’s also [Nolan]’s entry for the Hackaday Prize.

First up, the glove itself. [Nolan] was lucky enough to find a new, in shrink-wrapped plastic, Famicom Power Glove. His old one had been in storage for 27 years, and this new old-stock version gives him a beautiful matte glove, flex sensors that work, and brand new everything. You can take a look at the unboxing here.

A Power Glove is only as cool as the electronics inside, and that means tearing out the old boards, the old ultrasonic sensors, and a rats nest of wiring. This meant [Nolan] had to spin a few PCBs, integrating a Teensy, an IMU module, battery, and an ESP8266. This is the Power Glove as it would be invented today – perfection in 80s cyberpunk.

We first saw [Nolan]’s Power Glove at the Bay Area Maker Faire last summer. Here, [Nolan] was flying a quad around a netted cage, his replacement Power Glove electronics, and his fist-pumping grin. It’s a great project, and one we’re happy to show off in the Hackaday Prize.

Hackaday Prize Entry: The Fog – The Cloud At Ground Level

I did not coin the phrase in this article’s headline. It came, I believe, from an asinine press release I read years ago. It was a stupid phrase then, and it’s a stupid phrase now, but the idea behind it does have some merit. A collaborative Dropbox running on hardware you own isn’t a bad idea, and a physical device that does the same is a pretty good idea. That’s the idea behind the USB Borg Drive. It’s two (or more) mirrored USB thumb drives linked together by condescending condensation saying you too can have the cloud in both your pockets.

Like all good technology, the USB Borg Drive began as a joke. [heige] and his colleague were passing USB sticks back and forth to get software running on a machine without Internet. The idea of two USB sticks connected together via WiFi blossomed and the idea of the USB Borg Drive was born.

An idea is one thing, and an implementation another thing entirely. This is where [helge] is stumbling. The basic idea now is to use a Raspberry Pi Zero containing a WiFi adapter, USB set up in peripheral mode, some sort of way to power the devices, and maybe a way to set IDs between pairs of devices.

There’s still a lot of work for [heige] to do, but this is actually, honestly, not a terrible idea. Everything has a USB port on it these days, and USB mass storage is available on every platform imaginable. It’s the cloud, at ground level. A fog, if you will, but not something that sounds that stupid.