Shaping Play with Connected Stuff: IoToaster a prize winner in the YCombinator Upverter Hackathon!

Sun, Mar 10, 2013

We had so much fun at the YCombinator Upverter Hackathon. I was honored to be part of “the beatles” team  (Sam Cuttriss, Josh Cardenas, Jason Appelbaum, Lauren Elliott, Tish Shute, Otto Leichliter III & IV) that produced the prize winning IoToaster. Rick Merritt did an awesome write up in EE Times, Slideshow: Y Combinator hackathon’s prize-winning designs. If you want to hear more about hardware startups shaping play with connected stuff, I hope you will stop by, Parsing Reality: Shaping Play with Connected Stuff, Tuesday March 12th, 12.30pm -1.30pm, Raddison Town Lake Ballroom, Austin, SXSW 2013. I’m delighted to join, Adam Wilson Founder, Chief Software Architect Orbotix, Dave Bisceglia Co-Founder & CEO The Tap Lab, Phu Nguyen Founder Romotive Inc to talk about shaping play with connected stuff – more details here.

Meanwhile enjoy Rick Merritt’s great write up of IoToaster (reprinted from EE Times).

“Y Combinator hackathon’s prize-winning designs”

“An Internet Toaster, two pair of faux Google glasses and two novel electronic gloves emerged from a hackathon organized by Upverter and hosted by Y Combinator. SAN JOSE, Calif. – Imagine sending an Instagram to your Internet toaster and printing it—on whole wheat or white bread. Imagine creating your own vision for a variant of Google’s Project Glass.

Those were among the 32 projects from more than 130 designers at a recent all-day event organized by and hosted by Y Combinator, a startup incubator in Mountain View, Calif.

Winners took home iPads, Pebble watches, Arduino kits and Raspberry Pi boards after dedicating about 10 hours of their Saturday to hacking on their best ideas. Some took with them hopes of products that could make it to the market or new-formed teams that could be the heart of a new startup. Others just had a good time.

Here’s a look at some of the winners.

Two teams worked on variants of Google’s $1,500 glasses-mounted computer. One team (above) used laser-cut medium-density fibreboard and embedded LEDs that could indicate when the wearer faced north. Another team (below) created Prism, a more thorough knock-off of Google’s concept complete with an embedded display and gesture recognition.

Photos courtesy of Kuy Mainwaring and Sam Wurzel of Octopart.

Printing on whole wheat or white

The IO Toaster (above) is sort of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of social electronics. It’s an Internet-connected combo toaster/printer that creators say can “bring the cloud to your breakfast.”

The team adapted code from an LED matrix to control heat transmission down to the pixel level. They hope to present the device at the Augmented World Expo at SXSW as well as at other hackathons and hardware meetups.

The team included Sam Cuttriss, Josh Cardenas, Tish Shute, Lauren Elliott, Jason Appelbaum and both Otto Leichliter III and IV.

Peripherals and apps for the IO Toaster

The potential for the IO Toaster is great, said team members who brainstormed spin off products including:

  • FaceToast: Your friends’ Facebook status messages pop up automatically at breakfast.
  • Instagram Toast: Patented sepia tone filters add artistic textures to photos (above). Too grainy?
  • Toasted, Augmented Reality: Toast revitalizes boring QR codes (below).
  • Pop Tweets: Twitter toaster pastries. Follow your favorite fruit flavor.
  • FlipToast: Create an edible FlipBook with a carb-hinge technology in development.
  • Angry Toast: A hyper sling and gimble add on hurls slices at kids trying to leave for school without breakfast.

Touch screen toaster displays

Designers of the IO Toaster created this animation to show the romantic possibilities of their product.

Grand prize was a real grabber

The Tactilus is a haptic feedback glove for interacting with 3-D environments. A series of cables applies pressure to the wearer’s fingers to resist their motion in response to pushing against a virtual object.

Meet the Tactilus team

Jack Minardy had the idea to create a haptic glove. Five strangers who stopped by his table and liked the idea became a virtual team for the day, bringing Tactilus to life. They are (from left) Matt Bigarani, Nick Bergseng, Jack Minardy, Neal Mueller and Tom Sherlock. Not pictured: Oren Bennett.

Fitness glove has something up its sleeve

The Body API is a comprehensive metric-gathering device that gives the sports enthusiast a big data boost.

Baby gets a robo rocker

One team prototyped its invention for an automatic baby rocker using an electric can opener. Parents can control it visa a mobile app.

And other winners were…
At the end of the day, 30 groups took two minutes each to pitch their hack (below), some of which judges pitches in the circular file. A handful of others got various levels of recognition.

The winner in the most marketable category was the DIYNot, a plug that fits between your recharging device and the socket to turn off the two amp energy flow anytime you want. The Window Blind Controller, a clip on device that keeps streetlight out in the night and lets sunlight in during the day, got a nod from judges.

Judges also liked the Walkmen, an ultrasound virtual walking stick with haptic feedback for guiding disabled people. A team from Electric Imp got the Corporate Shill Award for a networked dispenser that spits out M&Ms in response to tweets. Another group added Wi-Fi links to home switches opening a circuit for new kinds of remote controls—and pranks.

From here to China and back

Zack Hormuth of (left), organizer for the event, helps hacker Matt Sarnoff. Upverter led a hackathon at Facebook’s Open Compute Summit. It also has hackathons in the works for New York City and Shenzhen.”

categories: Ambient Devices, Ambient Displays, Ambient Findability, Android, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Data, Augmented Reality, Big Data, data science, GeoFencing, GeoMessaging, Hadoop, Instrumenting the World, internet of things, Mixed Reality, mobile augmented reality, Mobile Reality, New Interfaces, smart appliances, Smart Devices, Smart Planet, social gaming, social media, ubiquitous computing
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