The folks over at Hackaday—a popular blog about interesting new software and hardware hacks—have just announced the second annual Hackaday Prize competition. Like last year’s event, the grand prize on offering is a trip into space—when such a ticket becomes available to purchase—or US $196,883, a figure whose significance may elude you unless you’ve been studying your Monster-group numbers lately.
Mike Szczys, managing editor at Hackaday, explains that last year’s winner opted for the cash over a future ride into space. So Hackaday will continue to offer the same grand prize, at least until a winner chooses to leave the atmosphere. But there are plenty of other prizes to be won as well, including a tour of CERN and a trip to Shenzhen, China, electronics capital of the world.
New to this year’s competition is the Best Product category. “We’re adding Best Product because so much of the work of bringing something to market comes after the prototype is made,” says Szczys. “This will encourage those who are good at product manufacturing to show what is involved.” The winner in this category will receive
$50,000 $100,000 along with some concrete assistance getting his or her product launched.
Another difference from the 2014 competition is the overall thrust. Last year it was intended to spur projects that were “open and connected.” This year’s more ambitious goal is “solving problems that matter to everyone.” Education, healthcare, and the environment are just some of the spheres organizers hope to see addressed.
While I tend to associate Hackaday with DIYers rather than startups, that’s probably a misleading picture. Szczys points out that the 2014 entries in the Hackaday Prize competition included several that turned into successfully crowdfunded products, including a portable software-defined radio and a machine-vision video camera.
The 2015 competition officially opens for entries today. The first judging will take place on August 17, at which point the competition will be closed to further hopefuls. Hackaday judges will initially choose 100 projects (plus 10 for the Best Product category) to advance to the next round. In addition, some of Hackaday’s sponsors will select 5 projects each to remain in the competition.
The next, semifinal, round of judging will take place on 21 September. At that point, the winner of Best Product category will be announced, as will the sponsor picks, and 10 projects will be chosen to advance to the final round of judging, which begins on 26 October, with the grand prize winner to be announced on 9 November.
So as I said to tinkerer-readers last year: Ladies and gentleman, start your soldering irons. And may the best hack win.
This post was updated on 10 March 2015, to show the new size of the cash prize in the Best Product category.
David Schneider is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. His beat focuses on computing, and he contributes frequently to Spectrum's Hands On column. He holds a bachelor's degree in geology from Yale, a master's in engineering from UC Berkeley, and a doctorate in geology from Columbia.