Last night was the culmination of Haxlr8r, a 111 day accelerator program that brought nine companies on a journey from Shenzhen to the USA. I stopped by the Autodesk Gallery to check out the pitches and technology.
Haxlr8tr, as was previously reported here on MAKE, is a startup accelerator that focuses exclusively on hardware startups. After starting the software-focused China Accelerator, Cyril Ebersweiler and Sean O’Sullivan received a number of hardware applications. They helped the companies, but their structure wasn’t optimized up to support them. They started Haxlr8r as a more formalized way to accelerate hardware development with the advantages of being located in Shenzhen.
During the opening talk of the demo night, O’Sullivan told us that hardware companies need to adopt many of the lean startup principles of software development, but also need to think about packaging and PCB design. He acknowledged that the hardware opportunity is growing out of the maker movement and that open source hardware and mobile devices “have made it possible for a whole new range of applications that we’ve never had before.”
Like almost every presenter at the Hardware Innovation Workshop, O’Sullivan cited the importance of Kickstarter as a main component to this new world of opportunity.
Here are the nine new companies:
The Axio team have created a bio-feedback device that helps you control your focus. I had the opportunity to demo the product. I put the headband on and stared at the blurry picture on the iPad. As my focus improved, the picture became clearer. It was fun! I could actually watch my focus go up and down and graphically confirmed my extreme ADD.
Garrett Gallagher and the Bilibot team created a robotics platform. The Bilibot aims to be the testing ground for the all the open source robotics software. They plan to target the hobbyist and university markets.
Katie Bicknell has created a device to measure fertility. Instead of peeing on a strip, Kindara sends information back to an iPhone app that measures data and provides personalized fertility coaching. The fertility information can be easily shared with healthcare professionals. She’s also working on integrating an oral thermometer.
Loccie is basically a smart compass. You enter a list of things you like through their web app and then your “Loccie Walkie” tells you which direction to head.
Makeblock is a mechanical kit. They’re aiming to fit in between toys like Lego or Kinects and 80/20. They’ve been selling kits for two weeks and have already sold 100 kits.
Sassor is a platform for measuring electricity usage. The sensors attach to the power lines of different devices and sends data back to a web and iPhone interface.
Bob Baddeley has created a portable, connected scoreboard. It’s small enough to fit in a backpack but big enough to see across a field. It can be controlled from an iPhone. There is a Kickstarter project up for Portable Scores.
The Shaka team has created a wind-speed meter that plugs into an iPhone. It looks like a Square card reader with a small fan on it. It takes the best of wind meter technology and the connectivity of smartphones.
Lisa and Abe of the DIY Sous Vid Cooker fame (a few of my Maker Faire favorites) have taken their DIY experience and have created a beautifully designed sous vid cooking device. It’s gorgeous! This is a prototype example of how maker projects can evolve into mainstream consumer devices (a topic that probably demands its own blog post). Also, support them on Kickstarter!!