Simple, New Inventor’s Tool – Makey Makey!

Many thanks to Ava Zbezda, one of Kauai’s young inventors in this summer’s “Inventing with Software and Electronics” class, for alerting us to this incredible new invention!  A team at the MIT Media Lab has created one of the simplest ever tools for inventors – a simple circuit board that can transform almost anything into a button.  Imagine playing your favorite video game using bananas from from your kitchen as buttons.  Or, imagine drawing buttons on paper with a pencil, and immediately using them as a typewriter.  The video below is highly recommended and demonstrates a number of different possibilities.  A Kauailabs personal favorite is the piano played by stepping on different stairs.

Makey Makey will be available in November at  Just in time to invent an interactive Christmas tree!

Create the Future 2012 Design Challenge – Now Open to Submissions

The Create the Future 2012 Design Challenge contest is open from now until June 30, 2012.  This contest was started in 2002 by the publishers of NASA Tech Briefs, and is open to the public –  featuring a Grand Prize of $20,000 as well as a number of smaller prizes.

The Design Challenge website is now accepting submissions in the following categories:

  • Consumer Products
  • Electronics
  • Machinery and Equipment
  • Medical Products
  • Safety and Security
  • Sustainable Technologies
  • Transportation

In order to submit your innovative design idea, inventors need only submit a 500 word technical abstract that includes one to three visual illustrations.  There’s also an option of submitting a video in support of your design. 

All submissions are open for all to see at the Design Challenge website.  Reading the amazing ideas already submitted is definitely food for thought, for example the life-saving “LIFE PACK – Hypothermia Prevention Flotation Device” invention in the Safety and Security section.

“Crowdsourcing” concept fuels new Small Business Legislation

At last, it seems there’s something our divided government leaders can agree to and work together on.   This Thursday (April 5, 2012) President Obama signed new legislation aimed at simplifying the process of raising investment capital for small businesses (less than $1 million in revenues/year).  It’s encouraging to see our government take positive, bi-partisan steps to support grass-roots innovation.  It’s even more encouraging to see that this legislation is fueled by an idea (“Crowdsourcing”) invented by the innovation community itself; the Kickstarter phenomenon is a prime example.

How many of us have had a really great idea, but have had no clue how to take the steps required to raise the funds to get the new idea off the ground?  Crowdsourcing was invented to solve this problem.  At it’s heart, Crowdsourcing provides a simple, self-organizing method for a great idea to get funded.  As a great example, check out the Printrbot success story.  Within a short period of time, this inventor with a great idea (simple, affordable, build-it-yourself-if-you-want-to-or-buy-it-if-you-don’t, 3D printing) has raised over $800,000 – directly from people who want exactly that.  As has happened many times in other industries, the “middle-man” has been removed and everyone wins because of it. Check out Kickstarter – you may just find the incentive to get your own favorite idea off of the ground…..


New “Innovating with Software and Electronics” Class

Kauai Labs has just announced an “Innovating with Software and Electronics” class from June 16 – July 21, 2012 to be hosted at the Island School campus behind the Kauai Community College (KCC).

This class is open from ages 10 to 100 and is a great opportunity to gain hands-on  experience with the invention process – by designing and building fun projects using custom electronics and software.

We are now accepting sign-up for this class, and hope you’ll join us!

Contact Kauai Labs  for more information.

Kauaibots Score Big at 2012 FIRST Robotics Honolulu Regional Competition

Congratulations to the Kauaibots, as they just returned from another successful outing at the FIRST FRC Honolulu Regional Competition!

This year’s competition featured 36 Hawaii and 2 visiting teams (from New Orleans and Taiwan) and an exciting game:  “Rebound Rumble”.

The Kauaibots’ robot, named “Thunder Chicken”, featured an autonomous mode which reliably dunked basketballs into the middle-tier hoops, a ball “vacuum” which swept up balls on the floor and into the shooting mechanism, and was designed for easy balancing on the court bridges.

“Thunder Chicken” made it into the quarterfinals, where the robot was paired with robots from Nanakuli and Hilo High.  Although that was a far as the robot made it in the competition, the quarterfinals were a very exciting matchup against an alliance (which went on to place second in the finals) featuring great robots from perennial finalists Punahou School (Oahu) and McKinley High School (Oahu), and including the West Hawaii Exploratory Academy (Big Island).  More information is available at the Hawaii Robotics Organizing Committee (ROC) website.

The Kauaibots were also awarded the Johnson & Johnson “Gracious Professionalism Award”.

The Kauaibots are meeting on Saturday, April 7 at 1:00 p.m. to begin preparing for next year’s season.  The team always welcomes new volunteers, so if you’re interested in getting involved you can get contact info from the Kauaibots website.