#HackDublin - Ireland's First Design & Hardware Hackathon
by Andrew McCosker, 11th December 2014
Rating: 5.0/5.0 from 2 users
Your rating:

"Ireland's First Design & Hardware Hackathon was like no other event. It brought together makers, entrepreneurs, techies, designers and "IoT" innovators and united them with one common goal - to give birth to their cool ideas and prototype the next generation of connected hardware."

Following on from September’s successful Hardware Hackathon, PCH and DCU Innovation Campus teamed up with the National College of Art & Design and the Web Summit to host Ireland's first multidisciplinary design and hardware hackathon.

This weekend long maker event, taking place just before the Web Summit kicks off, has pulled together over 100 industrial designers and hardware enthusiasts as well as multiple prototyping equipment providers to collaborate on product ideas from concept stage to final product.

Participants had access to developer kits, Raspberry Pi’s, 3D Printers, CNC machines, soldering irons and other tools to develop their product. Cash prizes worth €3,000, continuing consulting support from Each&Other, as well as tickets to the Web Summit, were up for grabs to the winning teams. 

Philip Moynagh, VP Internet of Things Group at Intel Corporation, gave an inspiring talk on what sparks big ideas - technical and business ideas - and opportunities  within Irelands Startup community and  what is driving these  hardware and IoT innovations:

"If it feels chaotic that because it needs to. If it's not chaotic you know you are not in a process that's going to deliver a breakthrough. If you get a couple of design folks, a couple of hardware folks, market folks,  a couple of software folks and a couple of arts students, you need people with history and poetry in there because they bring innovative ideas, they bring lateral thinking, so the more broader team you get wrapped around your idea, the more successful you will be..."

Philip Moynagh, VP Internet of Things Group at Intel Corporation 


  "You don't have to be a genius or a visionary or even a college graduate to be successful. You just need a framework and a dream." - MICHAEL DELL -

About 30 participants pitched  ideas to the crowd to attract attendees to form design and production teams. This gave passionate entrepreneurs the chance  to share an idea of a product and list the skills required to make their dream a reality.

Also the pitches illustrated that there was more of a diverse audience this time round than from the last hackathon; nationality, profession, gender and cultural diversities that made a unique and productive  maker melting pot. 

As Philip Moynagh puts it: "Last time was  way too male - it is never good when you are in a room where you are too white, too male, too anything. That's traditionally where engineering has been and the sciences have been and it's not good for it, so this is a really good start, a bit of diversity that gives you a chance, a repeat of the last Hackathon but above and beyond is what we are after."

After the best ideas were voted on, the 100 participants split into 12 teams to devise, create and demonstrate new hardware concepts and business models, a means of  getting some process around these ideas to hopefully create some exciting products.



  "The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it." - ELBERT HUBBARD -

After registration Saturday morning the weekend event kicked off  with a series of various workshops; Intel Galileo workshops, Nordic Semiconductor workshop and Design Partners workshops. These let the participants harness the creative possibilities of how to programme a Galileo to perform certain tasks such as turning on lights, making parts move etc. Thus making it easier to use electronics in the multidisciplinary projects successfully pitched later in the day.

The competing teams began devising their strategy Saturday  evening as the clean walls and windows of each teams room became more occupied with large paper demonstrations of product sketches, workflows, idea plans, post-it notes, task lists, all to enable team collaboration on product design and development.

Then as the days progressed, designs  turned into prototypes as teams made use of the huge array of equipment available - coupled with the expertise of nearly 30 mentors on hand to help each teams ideas take shape.

Our short video clip shows the highlights from this Dublin Hardware Hackathon so that you can get a sense of the force of innovation  taking place during each day's proceedings:  



  " Genius is one percent inspiration; ninety-nine percent perspiration." - THOMAS EDISON -

We got a chance to interview the teams early Monday morning before the big race to the prototype and pitch finish line and most were not as camera shy as we thought as they put their best speaker forward, as a confidence booster  in practicing for the final pitch that day.

It was  refreshing to see how each and every team  member engaged one another's ideas to develop the concept from  initial stage through to design and development. We got a glimpse of who's who in each team - why the teams coder is collaborating with the UX/UI designer for example or what the  makers position is on the industrial designer's jargon (We'll not mention which team that was!).

Luckily for the teams they got a much deserved break from  the making sessions with a Monday's lunch time treat of an exclusive screening of The Maker Movie - here participants got a chance to chill out from their projects eating their lunch on their laps in solidarity.

So if you are interested in seeing behind the scenes footage of these teams successful efforts in Ireland's  renaissance in prototyping, or are curious as to what  the participants thoughts were on the equipment provided, the mentors support, right down to how good the food was (the breakfast's  fruity granola yogurt V's the raspberry "pi"  macaroons) then please don't miss these exclusive videos: 



  "An entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew hoping he'll quickly learn how to chew it." - ROY ASH-

The teams final pitches commenced after Mark Hatch's inspiring motto "change the world or die trying": 


The days schedule was perfectly planned with a pitch coaching session delivered by a presentation specialist in the morning to help each team hone their pitching skills to be  ready for  Monday evenings final pitch.

Not the first chance for the 6 judges sitting at  the front of the auditorium to get a look at what the teams were working on over the weekend as they witnessed the prototype showcase earlier during that afternoon.

The final pitch gave each team a chance to sell their idea to the audience, an audience that could potentially become investors if they saw a startup success in the making.

We have put together this compelling video gallery of all 13 teams pitches of what they came up with over the last 3 days. You can use it as your  fly-on-the-wall pitch critique for practice as  one day you too could  be up there pitching  your idea or indeed may be one of the next hackathon judges!! 

Pitch #1 - CASH UP (Connected Cash Register for Automated Cash Management) -  FIRST WINNER  

Pitch #2 - CITY+ (Bicycle Powered Connected Sensor) -  SECOND WINNER  

Pitch #3 - PILL PAL (Smart Pill Box To Tackle Medical Non-Compliance) -  THIRD WINNER  

Pitch #4 - MINGLE (Interactive Wearable Badge for Smarter Networking at Conferences)

Pitch #5 - TREO (Environmental Pollution Wearable Sensor)

Pitch #6 - THE GROW DOME (Control and Monitoring System for Urban Allotments)

Pitch #7 - SIXTH CONTINENT PRODUCTIONS (Plastic Refuse Monitor)

Pitch #8 - EnKI3 (Smart Furniture & Tiles for Boardroom Interactivity)

Pitch #9 - HONEYCOMB (Connected Device to Help Communication in the Workplace)

Pitch #10 - SHELFLIFE (Smart Stock Scanner for Small Retail Biz- Checks Amount of Stock and Out of Date Stock)

Pitch #11 - FOOTPRINTS (GPS Tracking & Water Alert Wearable Device for Children)

Pitch #12 - PHOTOMETRY  (Camera to Remotely Capture Meter Readings Sent to the Cloud)

Pitch #13- GET LOCKED (Cloud Based Remote Locking System)

.... you can watch all the final pitches presented by 13 teams during the Hardware Hackathon Sunday evening in this video playlist: 



A confirmation of what the weekend was truly about manifested itself in the panel discussion prior to the hardware  hackathon winners being announced. Chaired by Silicon Republic CEO Ann O'Dea the panel discussion featured industry leader  Liam Casey (Founder & CEO at PCH) and experts in design and consumer experience Paul Cocksedge (Co-Founder of Paul Cocksedge Studio), Yonatan Raz-Fridman (CEO and Co-Founder of Kano) and Aisling Hassell (Head of Consumer Experience at Airbnb).

One thing all the panel members made very clear was that the world today is very much design-led and the best designers take their inspiration from the world around them and also the need to improve, preserve and ultimately simplify things.

Liam points out that design is something that should be incorporated at the very beginning of the product process:

"We were thrilled that NCAD participated at this event, for us now even with our Highway 1 programme we see the design influence from the very start, and walking around the room here last night, the teams really have embraced design, and design is not just about being able to make the product, it's also about being smart about using the resources you have, that's a hugely important factor."

Both Paul and Yonatan provide similar yet juxtaposing startup success stories where  both  have used Kickstarter to test their beautiful  products to the consumer and both explore the different ways they get their inspiration from.

 Paul - "Inspiration comes from living, meeting people and travelling, seeing things, and researching. It doesn't come from me sitting down and saying I want to be creative now, it's my lifestyle now, I've been doing it for such a long time now". As Paul also gives us a demo of his own new electronic product, The Vamp, that transforms an old traditional speaker into a portable Bluetooth speaker that can be used anywhere!

Yonatan says he still sees Kano "as a design company making a computer" and "it's about how you make an object, either physical or digital, and how people are going to slide in kind of naturally and not even feel like they are even using it." 

Aisling elaborates on how design relates to the AirBnB customer experience and what the customer  sees and feels about the vision of the company: "So that whole design ethic and design philosophy goes across the company - from the very start as to why it was founded to what we have evolved  into and the rebrand that we just went live with in July all vey centered around design but with a functional background."

A really inspiring panel discussion, especially  for startups trying to figure out where best to be based in the world as we find out how Liam's and Aisling's companies visions  both revolve around  this new business idea that "geography is history"



Ireland's first Design and Hardware Hackathon  went down a storm in the minds of all the teams. There were no losers here as every participant learned  something new in their own speciality and also learned many new skills and made new contacts that can  only lead to more successful collaborations on projects in the future.

Such a successful event proves that Ireland has one of Europe's best startup eco-systems and we look forward to more multidisciplinary design & technology hackathons here soon where Ireland's design and engineering communities can join forces to develop the next generation  of connected devices.

Liam Casey summed up hardware hackathon  trends  in Ireland:

"At the previous Hackathon in Dublin, and also at the Hackathon we had in San Francisco a few months ago, we saw phenomenal opportunity and great ideas. There is a new saying in business today that geography is history, so you have  as much opportunity here in Dublin as you have in China or in Silicon Valley, so it's about understanding that, and taking advantage of it."


Liam Casey, Founder & CEO at PCH

Did you get inspired?

See our video interview with Liam Casey and get a taste of what it is really like to be a serial entrepreneur!

Author: Andrew McCosker

If we left out anything in the article, please leave a comment with your thoughts, tips or experience from the event.

Startup Newsletter
Are you into STARTUPS?   Join our NEWSLETTER!
Popular Startup Events