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hardware hackathon

Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s most well-known incubator, is finally getting onboard with the hackathon, an event trend so well-established it’s almost passé. But the YC twists keep the concept fresh and will definitely interest a bevy of developers.

The YC event will be centered around hardware, and participants will have a clear shot and becoming Y Combinator funded companies if their work is promising.

Hardware hackathons themselves are a relatively new concept; they allow attendees to design, hack on, and improve hardware of all kinds, from server racks to — well, one’s imagination is the only limit.

The hackathon is being run by Upverter, a DEMO-launched company we’ve been following with great interest. Upverter gives hardware hackers valuable software for creating, sharing, and collaborating around hardware designs.

Upverter recently conducted a two-day hardware hackathon for the Open Compute Project, a Facebook-led organization for open-source hardware — specifically, open-source data center hardware. Upverter co-founder Zak Homuth told VentureBeat via email that hackathon participants took their designs “all the way from idea to hardware in just nine hours. … All of the hacks are mostly complete, very demoable, and some ready to manufacture.”

Homuth said he expects the same for the YC hackathon. “[The] plan is to get 80 or so teams together, enable them with tools, then much like the OCP hack, we expect they will spend most of the hack designing new hardware, adding features to their existing hardware startups products, and most importantly meeting like minded hackers.

“Hopefully some future YC companies get formed!”

However, while the OCP hardware hackathon was all about servers, Homuth expects a wildly different focus (or lack of focus) from the YC crowd. “Imagine stuff like Fitbit, Pebble, Lockitron, Wattvision, Double Robotics, etc.

“I want to see more quantified self stuff. More sensors. More small distributed smart phone connected hardware 2.0. Cyborgs FTW.”

If you want to play ball, you’ll need to start working now to refine your idea, learn about the available tools for hardware design, start working on a design diagram, and get your laptop environment squared away for the big day.

Interested parties can apply online. The event will take place February 23, 2013, at YC’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. Accepted participants will be notified by February 8, 2013.


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