Heelies, a feet-scanning solution for producing personalised soles, wins the first Garage48 Hardware & Arts

The first-ever Garage48 weekend in Estonia and Baltics devoted to building physical gadgets only proved to be a major success. The event co-organised by Garage48, University of Tartu and Estonian Academy of Arts brought together over 140 members from the creative communities of engineering and design, making it the biggest Garage48 event so far. 
The participants pitched altogether 37 ideas out of which 19 went into development and were turned into working prototypes and demod to the jury Sunday night. After hard deliberation Heelies, a feet-scanning solution for producing personalised soles, was declared as the winner of the first hardware hackathon, Rahu and DiaperBell the runner-ups. 

“We saw at our regular web and mobile app events that people wanted to get their hands dirty with physical gadgets. So we decided to do a whole event dedicated to that”, explained Priit Salumaa, Garage48 co-founder and organizer of the event. “I think the ideas pitched are very crazy and exciting. Hardware as a topic has proven to be very resourceful and we are having some ideas which I could have never imagined, ever.”

The event boasts a very diverse pool of participants, joining creative minds from electronics and mechatronics communities with artists, product designers, software engineers and marketers. “I hope the individual ideas presented will gain value and evolve into prototypes through real teamwork”, comments Indrek Rebane, co-organiser of the event and founder of Hedgehog. “And some blood, sweat and tears in the process.”

Teams and ideas

37 ideas were pitched on Friday evening and 19 teams were formed. The projects in progress are as follows:

1. CrystalSpace (Website, Facebook page) - CrystalSpace is building a small power supply for (cube)satellites. The power supply will be two times smaller and two times more reliable than those on the market today. The product will be valued by satellite building research institutes and companies. Team: Jaanus Kalde, Jaan Viru, Pätris Halapuu, Matis Averin, Marko Kolks, Kristjan Järvan

2. Mural Drone (Facebook page, Twitter) - Mural Drone is basically a flying spraying canTeam: Hendrik Väli, Pirko Konsa, James Connor, Tõnis Tiimus, Eduard Ruzga, Venno Viinapuu, Riho Kerge, Liina Laul

3. Slider´s Club (Website, Facebook page) - Slider´s Club is a multifunctional slider for video and photocameras is an affordable, portable, multi-purpose use slider for hobbyist photographers, video operators and other enthusiasts. Team: Jānis Bukovskis, Juris Upenieks, Rihards Plotka, Mārtiņš Maķinskis, Āris Kļaviņš

4. HmDress (Facebook page, Twitter) - HmDress is creating a dress out of 50 thousand Hama Midi plastic beads with discolights (LED lights working in different patterns, electroluminescent wire). Team: Tanel, Madis, Andrejs, Kaili, Kaisa, James

5. Lazazy (Website, Facebook page) - Lazazy is a personal lo-fi assistant that reminds you to stand up and take breaks, so you won't sit all day behind your computer. Team: Kaspars Laizans, Jānis Mucenieks, Madis Vasser, Kristjan Indus


Every person, every foot and every bone construction is unique. So why do we wear the same shoes and torture ourselves with high heels? Heelies has the solution that values the uniqueness of every shoe wearer. To solve the mismatch between shoes and feet Heelies scans your feet to make a perfectly fitting insole for your favourite shoe. Wear high heels with no pain! Team: Seren Eilmann, Piret-Klea Velleste, Eero Ränik, Toomas Laasik, Karl Kongas

7. Sensey (Facebook page) - Sensey displays energy consumption information via colourful ambient light. If you are bleeding money to energy company - ambient light is bloody red. If your consumption in monetary terms is low, ambient light is eco/green. Team: Taavi, Tarmo, Siim, Arvi, Cougar, Hannu

8. Internet of Greenhouse (BEST REVERSE ENGINEERING) (Facebook page) - Internet of Greenhouse is a designer hydroponics system for the windowsill that makes growing your own grapes/strawberries/tomatoes easier than washing the dishes. Enjoy the most delicious home grown food with friends and family every day. Team: Lauri Kapp; Renee Puusepp; Kristjan Männigo; Priit Kallas; Reiko Randoja; Andres Traumann; Karl Oha

9. FreeFall Ball - FreeFall Ball is a skydiving toy for skydivers that allows less experienced skydivers to jump with a weighted ball which will open a parachute should it not be recovered by the skydiver. Team: Kerstin, Priit, Tõnis, Janek, James

10. Aimond Labs (Facebook page) - Aimond Labs is a tracking stand for smartphone or tablet that follows you. Team: Xavier, Ilyal, Gleb, Maksims, Martin, Erik, Alvis, Valters, Miikka, George, Taavi

11. Turn-o-meter (Website, Facebook page) - Turn-o-meter is a pedometer-like device that measures the number of turns you make. Meant primarily as a fun gadget (think keychain merchandise) for dancers. Dancers of salsa or Viennese waltz might appreciate the humor enough to buy one as a present for their partner. Team: Tarmo Annus, Jüri Bogatkin, Jan Bogdanov, Sven Bogdanov, Hans-Günter Lock, Konstantin Tretjakov, Martin Verrev

12. Rugged Remote (Facebook page) - Rugged Remote is a rugged music remote control that's usable in extreme conditions and while wearing glows (snowboarding, motorcycle, etc). Team: Ilya, Dmitry, Matt, Lucy, Pavels, Martins

13. Smart Inventory (Facebook page) - Smart Inventory will be detachable smart tag system that helps people organize their valuables.Team: Märt Pikkani, Siim Raidma, Inga Raukas, Slava Balovnev

14. RAHU - RUNNER-UP, TECHCHILL PRIZE (Facebook page, Twitter) - RAHU is a 24/7 service alerting family members of granny's wellbeing. It's a wristband for granny which sends an SMS when she falls down or stays inactive. The data gathered will eventually enable us to create algoritms, which could help in preventive care. Team: Mattias, Tarmo, Brian, Eduards, Martins, Kostja, Priit, Egert 
15. Rolly Cat - BUILDIT SPECIAL PRIZE (Indiegogo) - Rolly Cat is a revolutionary new toy for cats (and other small animals) that can be controlled from any smart device (with BLE/BT4 connectivity). The product is targeted at people who like to challenge their pets to the maximum and familiarize them with the latest available technologies. Team: Tiit, Martin, Kristjan, Raido, Helena 
16. Teddybear Mimmi (Website, Facebook page) - Mimmi speaks fairy-tales to children with a low voice to help them fall asleep. Parents can record and download more stories from the platform. Team: Kristjan, Agnese Ieava, Kermo, Siim, Meelis 
17. DiaperBell - RUNNER-UP, BEST DESIGN, IDEALAB PRIZE (Website, Facebook page, Twitter) - DiaperBell will check diapers for you. It´s a healthy solution for eco-friendly parents. Team: Tanel Ainla, Lauri Antalainen, Madis Lehtmets, Steve Perkson, Kaiko Kivi, Raido Aasoja 
18. Mingo - BEST ENGINEERING (Facebook page) - Mingo is an online tool that gives everyone a chance to experience what peeing a message in snow feels like. Team: Toms, Kristaps, Andrejs, Reinis, Jānis 
19. tWud (Facebook page) - tWud makes wooden tablet holders for iPads etc. The aim is to make a product with a classy design that is natural and environment friendly as well as easy to use. Team: Uldis Reiters, Edzus Kass, Martins Jirgensons, Kristaps Cibulskis


Mentors comments

The teams were mentored during the event by several tech-savy people, entrepreneurs and VC-s like Seppo Sneck, CEO of SmartCap and an angel investor, Ben Gilbert from Microsoft, Viesturs Sosars, co-founder of TechHub Riga. 

As Garage48 Hardware and Arts hackathon was in full-swing, we grabbed a hold of some them to ask how they view the event. 

“The thing that strikes me as something very splendid indeed is the good buzz, the vibe that is going on here. People are innovative, they are thrilled about what they are doing regardless of whether it makes sense or not. But that’s not the main point. The main point is learning by doing,” says Seppo Sneck

“It teaches people how fast they can move and what they’re really capable of when they are willing to break the process a little bit and think creatively with people they are not used to working with,” adds Ben Gilbert who runs THE GARAGE, a grassroots innovation programme for Microsoft and facilitates start-up weekends several times a year all over the world; saying Garage48 Hardware & Arts was too tempting to miss. 

For many tech-savvy participants it is namely the business-side advice that is especially valuable, thinks Viesturs Sosars. He finds one of the key factors that determines the success of the idea beyond their hackathon lifespan is the team. It does not only take right kind and complementary skill sets, but also the commitment and motivation of the team to move forward together.
Also amongst the mentors were Prof. Alvo Aabloo from University of Tartu, Indrek Rebane from Hedgehog and electronics, engineer Markus Järve, Janis Grinhofs and Juris Klava from Massportal and David Clark from Laser Diagnostic Instruments AS. Not to mention Nigel Sharp from Lionsharp.com, Jean Mauris, co-founder & CEO @ eegloo business lab and Elise Sass, Startup Lead at Microsoft in Central-Eastern Europe and co-founder of StartupWiseGuys. Also seen on the venue were Janno Roos, co-founder and partner at Ruumilabor Ltd and Tõnis Liivamägi, Founder of Kinotehnik; and many more.


Grand finale on Sunday and winners

The final event on Sunday evening was a real triumph attracting a lot of attention.19 teams presented their prototypes and put up a real show for the packed audience and media crews as well as people following live broadcast online.

The jury included Priit Salumaa (Garage48, Mooncascade), Alvo Aabloo (Tartu University), Aleksander Tõnnisson (Buildit), Toomas Tammis (Estonian Academy of Arts), Elise Sass (Microsoft), Indrek Rebane (Hedgehog) and Seppo Sneck (SmartCap).

After some deliberation, the jury declared Heelies, feet-scanning solution for producing personalised soles, as the winner of the first Garage48 Hardware & Arts. Rahu who took a smartwatch apart and built a falling detector was announced as runner-up, also DiaperBell that alerts parents when diapers get wet.

Heelies rocked awesomly as they were chosen as Audience Favourite and got a special prize from Estonian Development Fund. DiaperBell received two special prizes, one for the Best Design and one from University of Tartu Idealab. Also the other runner-up Rahu got a special prize, this time from Techchill. 

Buildit special prize was awarded to RollyCat and special prize for Best Engineering went to Mingo, the most "useless" product with software, mechanics, irrigation and electronics in it.

Though some got prizes, everybody agreed that all were winners at this event. Jury member Aleksander Tõnnisson from BuildIt hardware accelerator said: “It´s unbelievable that all teams could actually make a prototype in 48 hours.” Nigel Sharp thinks that modularity was the key to make the devices work in 48 hours. "There was so much tech in the building. The access and open mindset to 3D printing showed the way to the teams and allowed to test several demoproducts in few hours."

Toomas Tammis from Estonian Academy of Arts emphasized that it´s important to combine modern technology, design and economics - in fact, it is the only way to come out with a product and build a business out of it.

Elise Sass who has organized Garage48 events in the past and now helps startups In Microsoft mentioned that putting hardware, arts and business together brought many teams closer to their vision to build real products and test right on the spot.

Huge thanks to our partners and sponsors!

Garage48 Hardware & Arts is organized by Garage48University of TartuEstonian Academy of Arts.  
We would like to thank all partners who are supporting Garage48 Hardware & Arts event: University of TartuEstonian Academy of ArtsEnterprise EstoniaEuropean Social FundCultural Endowment of EstoniaThe Council Of Gambling TaxBuildITUniversity of Tartu - IdeaLabEstonian Development FundHedgehogMicrosoftEccomArrow, Fortumo, 3K Group