There is one thing I absolutely love and that is gadgets. The beauty of the whole concept is that they are slowly turning from the geeky nerd fab into something a little more mainstream. With the advent of 3D Printing, hardware prototyping platforms such as arduino/raspberry pi and crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter, we are truly in the age of gadgets.
Back in the day, when I tried to get the first ever MP3 CD-Player for a couple of hundred bucks, people though I was mad. Now, it is normal to chase gadgets and nearly everybody has some. However what is a lot more impressive, and important, is that we can all create gadgets without having to buy-out factories in China and raise millions of EUR’s in funding. In fact with some of the modern tools for prototyping, it should be possible to put something together in a matter of a couple of days.
And that, my friends, is what the well known startup hackathon, Garage48, out of Estonia is planning to do - Baltics First Hardware hackathon. They saw the buzz, the opportunity, and calculated that it should be possible to put together a hardware startup in 48 hours. Granted, you might not get much sleep.
When talking to Priit Salumaa, the co-founder of the Garage48 Foundation, you immediately understand that this is no joke. They have been getting ready for more than a year, putting lists together of things you will need during the two days, learning from the teams that did do hardware startups at their normal events and even making mini test hackathons to see if this is all possible.
To me, the main criteria if this is feasable - is if you can build a robot in 48 hours? If you can, then anything is possible. Think about it, people used to spend their whole lives in order to try and make a robot, so if you can create one in 48 hours - you can prototype pretty much anything. Now, I was not expecting Salumaa, to tell me that they built a robot, but that is exactly what he said. At Garage48 in Kalliningrad, a team came in with a few gears and well, built a robot:
So, you it can definitely be done, but what does it mean for the rest of us? Well, for one, this event is more important than you might imagine at the first glance. It might not give us an overnight hardware success, since you still need a lot of money to mass produce it. It might have a lot of startups failing, because its darn hard. It might not even create companies that will last, though that is not the point.
But what definitely is, is an indication of where we are headed, as a society. With the advances in 3D Printing, prototyping and the internet of things, I can foresee a future, where you could 3D print cars, computers and even clothes. Sure, there are fundamental problems to be solved, but hey we can make robots in 48 hours and if we keep trying to push the technology to the limits, who knows what else we can come up with. Events like this, help us with the push in the right direction.
So I am definitely going to Tartu on the 7th-9th of February to see how the “phy-gital” products get built. Even if I can only spectate. However if you have an idea and want to give it a shot, you can register here. Oh and if you do it before New Years, the Garage48 team will be able to help you pre-order those hard-to-get hardware parts, if you need them.
Now I am going to get back to playing with my Philips Hue lamps, waiting for my Memoto, Scanadu Scout and of course the phone controlled paper airplane. Give me more gadgets!
Top Image Courtesy of Shutterstock // Robots