Here Are the 5 Finalists for the Pitch Your Prototype Challenge

Here Are the 5 Finalists for the Pitch Your Prototype Challenge


In the Pitch Your Prototype challenge, teams and individuals representing a broad swath of the Maker scene submitted prototype devices they had designed and constructed, with the goal of taking home the grand prize, being featured at MakerCon New York and possibly pursuing commercial production. The challenge was a collaboration between Make: and Cornell University.

Finalists in the challenge, which were selected by a panel of experts and online voting, include Mechanek, GrowBox, the Transforming Wheel Robot, Null Space VR and the Elemental Building Unit.

The winning project will be announced at MakerCon New York on Thursday, September 24. Here’s a roundup of the five finalists:

The Transforming Wheel Robot demonstrates a locomotion system designed to help robots navigate both smooth and rough terrain. The wheel can roll in both an open and closed position, and switches between the two without lifting the robot’s weight.


Null Space VR is a suit that provides haptic feedback to virtual reality gamers — or, in other words, to “feel” the boundaries of in-game objects. The suit employs 30 separate feedback zones across the body.

GrowBox is a computerized system that provides plants with water, nutrients and light. A camera processes images of the plant to determine its needs, which the machine addresses using hydroponics, lights, and nutrient reservoirs.


Mechanek uses active restraints to create a helmet that can withstand the intense forces of a crash. At the same time, its builders say, it minimizes slack so that there’s little restriction in head movement.


The Elemental Building Unit is a small-footprint, hackable fabrication kit that can support a mill, 3D printer, laser engraver or drag knife. The 22lb frame is meant as a flexible platform that can support a great range of common Maker technologies.


2 thoughts on “Here Are the 5 Finalists for the Pitch Your Prototype Challenge

  1. George Carlson says:

    Interesting. Mechanek is the only entry I remember seeing. Where did the other entries come from? Is this why the announcement of the finalists is two months later than what was stated in the rules.

    1. Jon_Christian says:

      Hi George,

      Sorry for the delay! I was out of town.

      A lot of the submissions came in at the eleventh hour, which I’d chalk up to engineering perfectionism. I believe I recall that Null Space and the Transforming Wheel Robot came in before the end of the contest, though.

      You’re also right about the finalists being hidden from the gallery for a time after the contest, which I noticed when I set out to write this post. As for that and the judging delay, the contest organizers told me that:

      “The finalists were moved over to another page when they were selected, and effectively, unintentionally, removed from the original group of entries. They are now back on the gallery page as they should be, along with the other applicants.

      The announcement was delayed for a variety of unforeseen reasons including a judge being unable to participate at the last minute due to personal reasons. It was important to us that we find a qualified judging replacement, but unfortunately that meant dedicating a bit of additional time locating one. That delay in combination with the delays attached to receiving each finalist’s acceptance (*acceptances were required prior to making the announcement) caused us to push out the broadcast date of the contest selections. We hope this clears up your questions. Thank you for following this contest so closely, and we appreciate you support the Maker movement!”


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Jon Christian is the co-editor of the Maker Pro Newsletter, which covers the intersection between makers and business. He's also written for the Boston Globe, WIRED and The Atlantic.

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