Today the folks at Hackaday announced the 2021 Hackaday Prize, a hardware design challenge for DIYers, which this year goes by the theme “Rethink, Refresh, Rebuild.” The capital-P-Prize is actually a group of awards that range from a USD $25,000 grand prize to a set of $500 prizes given to the 50 top finalists.
This year the competition includes five separate “challenges”:
- Rethink Displays
- Refresh Work-From-Home Life
- Reimagine Supportive Tech
- Redefine Robots
- Reactivate Wildcard
These short descriptions don’t always tell the whole story. For example, while “Rethink Displays” is pretty much what it says, “Reimagine Supportive Tech” isn’t just for projects like the one that won last year’s Hackaday Grand Prize—a mouth-operated interface to assist people with disabilities that prevent them from using other means to control a computer or wheelchair. This category also includes strategies for making hacking more accessible to, say, people who are too young to safely wield a soldering iron.
The “Refresh Work-From-Home Life” category anticipates that many of us will continue working from home, even after the pandemic becomes a distant memory. As somebody who has worked from home for more than a dozen years, I’m eager to see what the hackersphere comes up with in this realm.
“Redefine Robots” challenges contestants to come up with robotic companions or helpers that do something novel, including ones that are completely virtual. After the introduction of GPT-3, I’m a little worried about what hackers might be able to invent here.
“Reactivate Wildcard” is for projects that meet the general theme of reinvention, but don’t fit into the other categories.
Judging for the prize will take place in November, with the winners to be announced on November 19th. So you’ll have plenty of time to brainstorm and tinker.
If you want to compete, read over the official rules, fire up your design tools, and get hacking. Should you become stuck along the way, the good folks at Hackaday are even providing a mechanism to request some one-on-one mentoring. After a year in which many of us have been especially isolated, this seems a wonderful way to rethink, refresh, rebuild—and reconnect.
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.