FirstBuild ‘Hack the Home’ is Saturday: 5 things to know

FirstBuild is locates at 333 E. Brandeis Ave. | Courtesy of GE

Some 200 “hackers” will crowd into FirstBuild, 333 E. Brandeis Ave., Saturday morning to Hack the Home, a two-day event where designers, makers, engineers, students and others create new product prototypes for home use.

The participants will have all the micro-factory tools – from a 3-D printer to a laser cutter to a wood-engraving machine – at their fingertips but only 32 hours to complete their prototype. They will compete to win a total of more than $10,000 in cash and prizes.

With complete access to everything FirstBuild has to offer, the sky is the limit as to what can be developed, said the organizers, FirstBuild director Larry Portaro and product enthusiast Gonzalo Ocano.

Maybe it was the pumpkin-spiced Krispy Kreme or the lack of sleep, but Portaro said he and Ocano were both energized. “We’re pretty excited — this is biggest event we do.”

Ahead of tomorrow’s event, here are five things to know about the hackathon:

Youngest/oldest participants: “18 is youngest, and the oldest — take a guess?” Ocano said. A 70-something retired teacher from Jefferson County Community College dropped into Firstbuild to ask about participating, he said, so the range is college students to retirees.

“That range of experiences is awesome, with a diversity of background and experiences and skill sets,” Portaro added.

National/international attention: There is a budding group of followers on social media. Twitter: @firstbuild and Instagram: @thefirstbuild.

Product to market: Several of the hacks from last year are actively in development. “Actually,” Portaro said, “we have a product, the grand prize winner from last year, a cooktop for the visually impaired, that we are continuing to work on.”

Another neat story from last year, he said, is that FirstBuild called the American Printing House for the Blind to give feedback on the cooktop for the visually impaired. They gave great feedback on the device itself, Portaro said, but also called out accessibility issues with laundry, particularly high-end laundry machines. That has led to the Talking Laundry module, which has gained national attention.

Fartherest traveled: Makers from California, Michigan and Ohio have joined local makers for the event. One sponsor hails from Singapore, Ocano said, but the majority of representatives are from the U.S.

Why home hacks?: Last year, the hackathon was The Future of Cooking, Ocano said, but this year, organizers wanted to return the original theme, where anything is a go. “It enables them to get a lot more creative,” he said.

This post has been updated to clarify the local group that helped provide feedback was the American Printing House for the Blind.