I just received a beautiful thank you gift from Hackaday in the mail and was thinking back about what led up to it. This year, I had the great honor of being a judge for The Hackaday Prize, which was a yearlong open hardware/software design contest whose focus was on making something that would improve the world. The grand prize was $200,000 or a trip to space. Incidentally, I had a bunch of arguments with my girlfriend about which prize I would take. I was more pragmatic and would have taken the money. She wanted the trip to space though. Ha ha ha.
The judging was extremely difficult and there were an amazing amount of cool projects. To give a sense of how competitive it was, a lot of the projects from the semifinals that I thought were great didn't even make it into the finals. It was really refreshing to see how creative so many people could be with such a positive goal. It reminds me how valuable all of this open source hardware and software is to allow people to easily and quickly put together amazing designs that would normally not even be taken on by most companies. The fact that you can come up with an idea, throw a couple of breakout boards together, and stitch it all together with open source software libraries is really just amazing. A lot of times, I think to myself if I'm living in the future yet. Nowadays, if I think back to how design was done in the early 2000's, it feels like we were all using twigs and stones.