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Shapeways and littleBits’ Make-a-Thon Challenges Makers to Do Some Creative Home-Hacking

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Shapeways is challenging makers, tinkerers, DIYers, and even those aspiring to the aforementioned to join their “How can you make your home smarter using the Internet of Things and 3D printing?” hackathon. The event’s official name, the 3D + IoT: Make Smarter Gadgets Make-a-Thon, includes a workshop and a contest — and Shapeways has teamed up with littleBits to ensure that all the participants need to come up with are the household objects they’re improving.SmarterThanYourHome

If you’re new to the world of 3D printing, of making and hacking, and the concept of the Internet of Things, then you may not have heard of littleBits. What is it? It’s an open source library of electronic modules that snap together with magnets for prototyping — and, of course, learning. Currently, littleBits can boast over 60 electronic modules, which range from pretty basic such as power, sensors, sound, and light, to somewhat complex, such as wireless, programmable, and even internet-connected.

drawboat

The challenge is to find something in your house that you consider completely ordinary — a toothbrush, an old pair of gloves, your dog’s food bowl — and consider how you can make it smarter. Using 3D printing and littleBits, how might you even connect your newly wised-up object to the cloud?

If you’re in the New York City area, you can actually get your project underway this coming Saturday, February 28 at the littleBits headquarters in Manhattan (though the RSVPs are now for a wait list for this popular event). From 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. you can get practical assistance with your project, hear from inspiring speakers, and get some hands-on experience as you kick off your one-person or one-team hackathon.

The February 28 event is just one component of the Make-a-Thon and contest entrants aren’t required to attend it. The contest itself takes place in two different phases: Ideas and Finalists. Figure out what object you’re going to upcycle/enhance and what that’s going to look like and then submit your idea or ideas. The deadline for idea submissions is March 28, 2015. Submissions should include a rough 3D model and a layout of how you plan to incorporate littleBits.

When you’re ready to submit, upload your project to the littleBits project page using the hashtag #shapebits. Your upload must include:

  1. Why you did what you did: tell them about your inspiration and the impetus behind your concept
  2. A step-by-step description of what you did — your process, basically
  3. A list of the resources you consulted so that other makers can benefit from your experience

smarthomekit

Note that you’re not in this alone! As you’re working on your project, if you hit a bump in the road, log in and consult the great littleBits online community. Specifically, get yourself into the Project Buzz area of the forum and ask other members for help!

The second phase of the Make-a-Thon, the Finalists Phase, requires submissions be completed by April 30th. They must be uploaded to the Shapeways and littleBits websites using the hashtag #shapebits. A panel of experts will have selected five finalists from among all of the entries. During this phase (after all projects have been submitted and five finalists chosen), contestants will receive free bits to create their projects as well as a coupon from Shapeways so that they can 3D print their projects.

Projects will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Creativity: “How inspired,” ask Shapeways and littleBits, “is your creation? How close to the theme is it?”
  • Technological achievement: How well does the project incorporate the potential of littleBits + 3D printing?
  • Aesthetics: How well-designed and -polished is your project?
  • Surprise: How unexpected and original is your project?

The maker with the best project gets some amazing prizes! He or she gets a One of Everything Set from littleBits, which includes 100 Modules (a $1,913 value), AND a $500 3D printing credit from Shapeways. There’s more, too: The top three entries will be showcased at the littleBits MakerFaire booth in San Francisco in May. They’ll also be featured in the littleBits and Shapeways newsletters and will be added to the littleBits Community Hall of Fame.

We’re looking forward to seeing the winning projects this fun and creative contest inspires! Tell us about your entry — or what you’re hoping to see from the contest — in the littleBits and Shapeways Smarter Than Your Home Challenge forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

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