Products and Design

Shapeways + littleBits Hackathon Roundup

Saturday morning was a glorious day in NYC, and we gathered at the lovely littleBits HQ for a full day of fun at the  3D + IoT Smarter Gadgets Hackathon, hosted by Shapeways & littleBits. Over 30 people of all ages and backgrounds from teachers to tinkerers arrived with an everyday object and their imagination at the ready. Here’s what went down…

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After some bagels and coffee, our awesome judges each presented their work and their thoughts on how to approach design. Each one had a key tip for the day, and for design in general.

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Ron Rosenmann of Frog Design told us about coffee time at Frog and how it helps them to make time to brainstorm together. Heidi Farrell of Smart Design quoted Jonathan Ive’s maxim that “So much of our manufactured environment testifies to carelessness” and urged us to constrain assumptions at the beginning of a project to help focus our creativity.

Oscar Salguero of Kid O Toys advised us to invite your friends to a workshop to make lots of ideas for you. He warned that you’d better “make something that works or they’ll be annoyed!”. As a toy designer, he reminded us that kids have no fear! So be a kid! Lastly, Emily Tuteur from Littlebits showed examples of how Littlebits come together and got us all excited by the CloudBit and IFTTT. Then it was playtime! We split up into five teams and two family projects.

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Diego (8 years old) made a three phase adapter to trigger a catapult and his sister Sophia (6) made a windmill with pompoms to simulate a candy cane machine. Alexandra (8) made an awesome catapult too, using a completely different technique, to dislodge a block to trigger the spring.

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At the end of the day, Everyone uploaded their projects to littleBits and  we had some fun demonstrations. Here’s what each group made:

Sheet Saver is a smart toilet paper dispenser.  Bianca, Chris, Daniel, Jude, Nick & Stephanie put their heads together to fix the simple problem of toilet paper efficiency…by controlling how much you can use. Enough is enough! Saving trees one sheet at a time.

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Brush-R brush with music! Mason, Maren & Bastiaan hacked a music box to make a song timer to help you brush your teeth for the optimum time of two minutes.

Take A Chill Bit is a responsive office that calms you when you’re angry. Ilya, Mitul & Noel came up with two projects using the Jawbone UP App. The three makers created a circuit that tracks their attitudes throughout the day. “The device detects the problem, reports it on Jawbone UP App and reduces the level of stress by stimulating sensory channels” using a fan and an MP3 player. If you get stressed, it activates to calm you down with soothing light, sound and a fan. Their other project was a way to easily send caloric information to your phone to track your intake. Using a pressure sensor and the cloud, this group turned a box of oatmeal into a smart device!

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Tooth Doodle: a seismograph machine integrated into the toothbrush! Marj & Boian made a seismograph machine integrated into a toothbrush to make brushing fun, you can make art while you brush or if you’re data-driven, match your strokes to an ideal brushing curve!

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Conflict News is Eric’s news delivery service that delivers news through an interactive diorama, instead of cluttering your phone, you get a visual of what’s happening.

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Soundmail plays your favorite song when you come home. Shannon, Cortlan, Soo, Tharit & Reed gave a professional presentation, featuring beautiful slides of the UI of their new creation that works with the Spotify API and is a new service designed to connect people’s emotions through voices and song.

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Remorse Code.: mitigates communication disconnect with your partner. Alecia, Caroline & Adele thought there were too many communication apps so they devised a way to visually share their feelings using the cloudBit and a bargraph.  “Set secret messages with your partner and dial in when you need to say something important. Just think of your bar graph as a BAE graph and let your secret communication fly”.

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We had Andrew and Ed from Shapeways on hand to give each team advice how to best incorporate 3D printing into the next phase of their project, from creating custom cases to house the electronics to integral design components like fun characters that animate.

Now it’s your turn! Seeing what the teams came up with – what will you make? You have until the end of March to  submit your ideas to the Contest!

What ordinary household object will you give a new life with some electronics and 3D printing magic?

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