Morgan State University was a Heroku-free zone last weekend.
The Baltimore historically black university hosted a student hackathon as part of the HBCUHacks series. As presentations were made Saturday afternoon, the weary eyes and spent food containers that usually mark an all-night session were present. But the three teams of students didn’t have apps to show for it.
That’s because they were given the task of producing a project that had a physical elements. 3D printers were on hand, and there was much talk of projections about wearables in the coming five years.
Organizer Sam Henry said the idea of the “makeathon” was to give students the opportunity to work with hardware.
“It’s all in front of you,” Torin Ellis, the founder of a cybersecurity recruiting platform called SeeFuture, told the students. “50 billion devices in the next five years. Figure out what to put on one of these joints.”
Here’s what the three teams came up with:
1. Arduino Security System
The team of Jaime Arribas, Isaiah Weaver and Khir Henderson related their project directly to one of Baltimore City’s most protracted problems: vacant houses.
The simple security system they created is designed to send alerts about entry to a property from afar, meaning it could be used by landlords and other property owners to keep an eye on buildings when they aren’t around. The device can also interface with ethernet connections, allowing alerts to be sent to phones and email accounts.
The project had three parts, making it easy for the trio to divide up the work of 3D printing, circuitry and coding. And each member decided they wanted to try something new.
“We all decided to do something we haven’t done before,” said Arribas. “We wanted to use this as a learning opportunity.”
The effort earned them the $500 first place prize.
The duo of Alfonso Delaney and Amon Dow focused on healthcare, producing a 3D-printed band that is designed to provide doctors with data about patient behavior. Using 6D and FBG optical sensors, SWAHP would be a relatively open platform that could allow monitoring of vitals, dieting habits and more. The team won second place, and $250.
3. Innovation Team
This team thinks the path into wearables is through games. They came up with a version of red light/green light that can be integrated with Apple Watch.
“The watch will know whether or not you’re moving when [the person controlling the game] hits stop,” said Steven Johnson, who teamed with Leonardo Ferreira and Maliik Nelson in the third-place effort, earning them $100.
They also came up with a drinking game, called Bottoms Up, and made a video to demonstrate. It’s water, they swear.