Hackaday: 6 wild hacks that might just end up saving our planet

This is what happens when you let makers and innovators go crazy! They come up with real solutions. For everything.

“Hacking is taking something and using it for a purpose it wasn’t initially meant for. It’s a community effort where everyone pitches in their bit. It is NOT a bad or dangerous word so don’t shy away!”
-Anool Mahidharia, co-founder of Makers’ Asylum, Mumbai

The Hackaday Prize is a movement to encourage thinkers, developers, and anyone who has a creative idea to implement that idea as an open source innovation that will serve a greater purpose. The winner of this prize gets $196,418 (this is not just a random number, but a number that is part of the Fibonacci series) OR… a trip to space!

Workbench Projects, located in a cozy nook below the Ulsoor Metro Station, held an event on the 2nd of May to support the contenders for the Hackaday Prize. This is a space equipped to turn even the wildest of ideas into a living reality. If your ideas are unconventional, and you don’t know what to do with them, this is the place for you! Their state of the art workshop is well equipped with tools, technology (including a 3D printer!), guidance on technical know-how, hobby areas, collaborative and solitary work spaces, abundant moral support, and of course, food!

Your own customized workshop

Your own customized workshop

Here are some innovations that we saw at the event that are oriented towards providing sustainable solutions to problems posed by health conditions, global warming, pollution, climate, energy, and transportation.

1) Smart Walking Cane

Chitra and Kruti from PESIT, Bangalore wanted to leverage technology to provide the visually challenged with useful devices that would help them go about their daily lives. They designed a prototype for a Smart Walking Cane which guides the user while walking along a road, and gives off audio alerts through a hand-held smart phone that is synced to the cane. It warns the user about objects that are in his/her path, and approximately how many steps away that object is. They estimate that with fabrication, the Smart Walking Cane would cost Rs. 3000, while a lower-end version (without camera integration) could cost as less as Rs. 1000.

"Beware of the suitcases" says the Cane

“Beware of the suitcases” says the Cane

2) Drones for Smart Cities

Deepjot Singh and Chetan Kumar from Edgeverve, Infosys have used cutting edge drone technology to conduct research and development oriented towards Smart Cities, with an aim to mitigate pollution and climate change. They have developed drones designed to gather data from remote and potentially hazardous locations. The drone can be auto-launched into areas where it monitors the Carbon Dioxide levels, temperature, humidity, and air quality. The drones are equipped to live transmit data and are already at work collecting live data from  the Infosys campus’ waste management unit.

Drones for Smart Cities

Prototype of the drone that will monitor carbon dioxide levels, temperature, humidity, and air quality

3) Water Sensors

Kris and team, who work as part of Wisense, developed a prototype for a soil and moisture sensor. It works as a probe which when immersed into the soil, reads the moisture content and temperature of the soil. A smiley face on the display indicates sufficient water, while a frowning face indicates that the soil is water deficient. This technology can be applied in agriculture, by connecting the sensor to central GSM router which then sends SMS messages reminding the farmer to water the crops when water levels in the soil fall. Another prototype that was displayed by Wisense was a sensor for the water levels in tanks. With it the inflow and outflow of water can be regulated to prevent tanks from overflowing.

This probe will text you about when to water your plants!

This probe will text you about when to water your plants!

4) Blue Wave Clean Technologies

This device collects the wave energy onto a plate which then converts the energy into mechanical energy. Abdul Thameem, who’s a member of Workbench Projects and is working on this, proposes to use the mechanical energy to transfer large items through a chute, or to further convert mechanical energy into electricity. This will be used to provide lighting for the households of fisherfolk who live in the vicinity of the tidal zone.

Hacking his way to a tide-y solution

Hacking his way to a tide-y solution

5) Earthquake Warning System using LittleBits

“Imagine what 20 seconds can do for your life, your business or your school” is the tagline used for this Earthquake Warning and Monitoring System installed in California and replicated on an Open Source platform by Anmol Agrawal. This system detects the fast moving P waves and sends an alert to the system, before the slower moving S waves arrive which cause the real damage. At the alert center, the location and size of the quake is determined and sent to a public warning system.


The Earthquake Warning System| Picture credits: Anmol Agrawal

The Earthquake Warning System| Picture credits: Anmol Agrawal

6) Connected Cars for Pollution Control

Peter Manoj and team from the Center for Nano Science and Engineering (CeNSE), Indian Institute of Science have just given birth to the idea of creating in-built technologies in cars that will compute vehicular CO2 emission footprint in real time which brings awareness to the driver, improves efficiency by manufacturer, and stimulates development of counter measures by pollution control agencies.


While most of these innovations are only at a prototype stage and not yet ready for the market,  it is worth taking a look at the birth of these hacks, and their subsequent journey to pave the way towards a sustainable future.

Internet of Things, Bangalore (IoTBLR) is an open community for people interested in the Internet of Things (IoT). Members include entrepreneurs, working professionals, students, researchers, investors, journalists, hobbyists, etc. Through IoTBLR, members can attend workshops/talks/hackathons, work together on IoT projects, share equipment and resources, build IoT solutions and startups, and generally stay updated about the latest developments in the connected world.

The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created--created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. more


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The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created--created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. more

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