Why build an app when you can build a phone?

Robert Koch
Jul 18, 2018 · 4 min read
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Bosch development kits

Over the last 5 years, UNIHACK has been predominantly focused on software and design. It is not well known that some of UNIHACK’s most creative entires have been in the field of hardware. From analogue computers, to dog-walking robots, the students of Australia have made some impressive hardware hacks. Continuing on this path once again, our sponsors, such as Bosch are supporting UNIHACK this year because our competitors continue to come up with new and innovative ideas to solve modern problems using a variety of hardware solutions.

There are many hardware hackathons around the world, some with very specific problems to solve, with some others more open. At UNIHACK we believe that the creativity of students shouldn’t be limited by a specific idea, although some of our sponsors may award prizes targeting specific themes.

In this spirit we’ve taken the time to compile a list of some great hardware hacks from all over the world that you can take inspiration from. In this first post we’ll show off some of the creations that have been made at UNIHACK and other Australia-based hackathons.

Previous Entries

For UNIHACK 2017, students from Monash University created an analogue computer out of nothing but a printed circuit board, and a few scrap components. Their idea was to create an education board that could be used to teach high school students how to build computers.

During UNIHACK 2016 another group of Monash University students created a smart chair that could detect when a person had sat on it and connect to their phone, to get information about their posture, as well as how long they were in the chair for to monitor health conditions.

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Assembly of the dog-walking robot

In that same year, the team Canine Synergy Solutions created a fully functioning dog walking robot that could take your pet to the park and entertain it for you by throwing a ball, their idea was well received by the judges and they won the Most Creative idea award.

Monash HardHack

This year was also the inaugural Monash Hardware hackathon, where there were many different entries ranging from Bitcoin piggy-banks to smart lockers. All the creations were made over the weekend and presented to judges on the day, with representatives from both the industry and the defence force.

Crypto Piggy-bank

The world of crypto-currency is rife with scandals and fraud. In a community with no regulation it can be hard for honest people to invest in legitimate currencies without being ripped off. Enter the Bit-Bank, a smart piggy-bank that is linked to your bank account, it allows you to invest in small amounts of crypto-currencies when you deposit coins into the bank, these coins can then be deposited into your bank at a later time.

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Charity Bitcoin Coin Collector — The piggy bank that buys crypto-currency for charities.

Raspberry Pi Eye Camera

For people with serious paralysis, communication can be almost impossible, different machines exist to solve this problem but most will cost a significant amount of coin. Some final year students realised they could use existing software and a Raspberry Pi camera to track the movements of a patients’ irises and use this as a mouse on a computer. The patient would then be able to communicate more easily by typing on a keyboard with their eyes.

Smart Parcel Locker

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For many people picking up parcels is a hassle when they miss a delivery, having convenient locations to pick up and drop off deliveries can significantly improve customer satisfaction and efficiency. The solution students from Monash created, was an automated parcel lockup system that can be installed in public places for anyone to use.

The parcel lockers were connected using an Arduino to the internet, where customers could unlock a parcel with their phones or computer.

Stay tuned for another post where we’ll talk about some of the more amazing inventions from around the world.


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