GE Hosts a Hackathon to Hack Its Own Appliances
Teams of more than 200 makers, designers and engineers descended on the FirstBuild microfactory in Louisville, Kentucky for the 33-hour Mega Hackathon: Hack the Home Challenge. It was a DIYer’s dream as they were presented with an array of GE appliances, and all the 3D printers, laser cutters, water jets and other advanced tools they could need to hack them up to the next level - and compete for over $60,000 in cash and prizes.
As an online community of builders, makers, home enthusiasts and innovators, FirstBuild brings people and ideas together via social media to propel advancements, but their microfactory has the added power of bringing those ideas into the physical space with rapid prototyping, product testing and actually bringing those innovations to market.
Judges from FirstBuild and sponsors such as Atmel, AT&T, Delta, Renesas, Texas Instruments and hackster.io had to assess more than 30 new designs, such as a heavy duty microwave powered by a car battery, a refrigerator inventory system and an automated pasta maker, but managed to select their top three from the field.
First place went to THE ROASTERS - Rob Lewis, Joshua Longenberger, Ali Faraji-Tajrishi, Nick Dillon, Rick Suel – who used an Arduino to mod a conventional GE wall oven to precisely adjust its temperature and automatically roast coffee beans, mimicking a professional roaster.
Second place went to FIX OF WATER - Nelson Tanquero, Mark Shelton, Michael Large, Jose Padron – who used voice commands from a mobile device or tablet to control the flow of filtered water from a hacked GE refrigerator, opening a window to how we’ll communicate with our appliances in the future.
Third place went to CROCK WATCH - Jason Chodyniecki, Taylor White, Bill Piepmeyer, Keith White – who created a crockpot with WiFi and video, so you can not only control it remotely, but see it cooking. That way you can adjust the temperature or shut it off as needed, instead of just relying on a timer to get your dinner right.
The director of FirstBuild, Natarajan Venkatakrishnan, congratulated them and summed up the event, "The ingenuity generated by these teams was outstanding and illustrates how ideas can come from anywhere. We opened our facility to the maker community and in a day they created innovations that can impact appliances of tomorrow."