It’s that time of year again! The Hackaday Prize is here. For the fifth year, Hackaday is challenging makers to come up with open source hardware projects that make a difference in the world. Last year’s winner was Alex Williams, whose Open Source Underwater Glider enabled long-term, autonomous exploration of submarine environments. Previous winning entries include the Eyedrivomatic, a 3D printed wheelchair that allows the user to drive with just their eyes, and Dtto, a modular self-reconfigurable robot designed for all-terrain search and rescue operations. The Hackaday Prize always draws a lot of brilliant minds and ideas, and this year’s competition, sponsored by Digi-Key and Supplyframe, will likely be no exception.
The theme of this year’s contest is “Build Hope,” and it asks entrants to “show the power technology has to do incredible good and create hope for the future.” Like last year, the seven-month contest is divided into five challenges that run five weeks each from March 12th to October 8th. The first challenge, the “Open Hardware Design Challenge,” is already underway and runs until April 23rd. This is the broadest round, in which participants are encouraged to design the “boldest idea” they can come up with. No prototypes are required, just pictures, charts and theory.
The other rounds are more specific and include:
- Robotics Module Challenge – April 23rd to June 4th
- Power Harvesting Challenge – June 4th to July 16th
- Human-Computer Interface Challenge – July 16th to August 27th
- Innovative Musical Instrument Challenge – August 27th to October 8th
“We’re excited to partner with Hackaday for another year of challenging inventors to be curious, creative and determined,” said David Sandys, Director, Business Ecosystem Development at Digi-Key. “The Hackaday Prize contest aligns with Digi-Key’s vision to encourage and enable innovation in technology that will solve problems and advance civilization. With the amazing projects we’ve seen in previous years, we can’t wait to see what the entrants create this year.”
Participants can enter all rounds if they want, or just one. The top 20 entries from each challenge will win $1,000 and be considered for the Finals Round. The top five finalists, including the Grand Prize winner, will be announced at the Hackaday Superconference, which is taking place from November 2nd to 3rd in Pasadena. The Grand Prize winner will be awarded $50,000 and considered for a residency at the Supplyframe DesignLab, also in Pasadena. The second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-place winners will receive $20,000, $15,000, $10,000 and $5,000, respectively.
There are other awards that can be won, as well. No cash prizes for these ones, but there are definite bragging rights – awards like the Diva Plavalaguna Achievement for most unexpected musical instrument, or the Sonic Screwdriver Achievement for the hack that does everything. There’s also the Ender’s Achievement for most brilliant student submission.
The judges for the 2018 Hackaday Prize include Sherry Huss, co-creator of Maker Faire; Mark Rober, former NASA engineer and current popular YouTuber; and Danielle Applestone, CEO of Bantam Tools.
Individuals and teams from countries around the world are eligible to enter, and young hackers, makerspaces, colleges and startups are strongly encouraged to enter. Entrants must be 13 years of age or older. You can find full rules for the Hackaday Prize contest, as well as full descriptions of each of the challenges, here.
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