Smart recycle bin wins record-breaking MHacks hackathon

Sep 24, 2013
Zachary Lawrence, Andres Toro, and Joshua Drubin; University of Maryland students and creators of the hack "GreenCan" pose for a celebratory picture after they are announced as winners of top prize for best hack at the closing ceremony of the MHacks Hackathon 2013 in the Crisler Arena on September 22, 2013 in Ann Arbor, MI. Credit: Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering Communications & Marketing

An intelligent trash can that sorts recyclables from garbage won first prize at the University of Michigan's 36-hour maker blitz, MHacks.

With more than 1,214 people from roughly 100 schools, the event at Michigan stadium this weekend set what is believed to be a record for the world's largest hackathon organized by college students.

The team that made GreenCan came by bus from the University of Maryland. The students were one of the few groups to make a physical object, rather than an app or a web tool.

Bothered by seeing glass bottles and aluminum cans in the trash even when a is close by, Zachary Lawrence, Joshua Drubin and Andres Toro arrived at MHacks with an idea for a single-stream receptacle. The bin they built has a swing top that pivots in a different direction based on the sound an object makes when it hits it. Ping-y cans and bottles end up on one side of a partition and thud-y foam cups on the other, for example.

"I never dreamed of coming here and actually winning," Drubin said. "It feels unbelievable" – even on six hours sleep total for the past two nights. The GreenCan guys took a cat nap approach, slumbering for 30-minute stints every five hours.

"We're definitely going to feel it soon enough," Toro said Sunday afternoon.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

GreenCan won $6,000 and entry into Greylock Hackfest, a high-profile, competitive event organized by Silicon Valley Greylock Partners. Team tabbr from Carnegie Mellon University took the $2,000 third place with a that searches through open tabs open on a computer.

The $3,000 second place prize went to Save My Glass, a "head-up" driving display for Google Glass devised by Mike Huang and Austin Feight, juniors in computer science and engineering at U-M. Save My Glass would essentially project a car's dashboard information through the Google Glass so the driver wouldn't have to look down to see it. The tool could also use the Glass's blink sensor to determine if the driver had fallen asleep at the wheel, and if so, vibrate to wake the driver up. Finally, the tool could use the Glass's motion sensors to detect a crash and, if one occurred, dial 911.

Google was one of the event's many sponsors. Baris Yuksel, a senior software engineer there who came from New York to serve as a mentor, was inspired by the hackers' passion and energy.

"When I look here, I see the future," Yuksel told the crowd at the awards ceremony. "One of you is going to make the next big thing and the other will make the next, next big thing, and so on. In five years, 10 years you're going to be the tech kings. You're going to be awesome. You are awesome."

Yuksel also thanked the Michigan Engineering students who organized the hackathon, chartering buses to and from schools across the country and arranging for those beyond driving distance to get airline stipends in order to bring so many students together to create. MHacks organizers urged participants pay it forward, in a sense.

"This was one of the most incredible weekends of my life," Thomas Erdman, a junior in computer science and engineering at U-M who led the event, told the crowd at the awards ceremony. "I hope it was one of the most incredible weekends of yours.

"Go home and spread the culture at your schools," he said. "We saw so many problems solved in 36 hours! Imagine what we can do in a month, or a semester."

Explore further: Students to explore filmmaking with Google Glass

More information: www.mhacks.org/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Students to explore filmmaking with Google Glass

Jul 30, 2013

Beauty is in the eye of the Google Glass wearer. At least that's what the Internet search giant hopes a handful of young filmmakers will discover. Google is enlisting film students from five colleges to help it explore how ...

Review: Google Glass needs lots of polishing

Sep 02, 2013

Google Glass is an innovative - if unpolished - technology. But it has what I think is a fundamental flaw: Designed to be worn on the face throughout the day, Glass is a barrier between users and the real ...

Recommended for you

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

Apr 16, 2014

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Neuroscientist's idea wins new-toy award

Apr 15, 2014

When he was a child, Robijanto Soetedjo used to play with his electrically powered toys for a while and then, when he got bored, take them apart - much to the consternation of his parents.

Land Rover demos invisible bonnet / car hood (w/ video)

Apr 14, 2014

(Phys.org) —Land Rover has released a video demonstrating a part of its Discover Vision Concept—the invisible "bonnet" or as it's known in the U.S. the "hood" of the car. It's a concept the automaker ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

A homemade solar lamp for developing countries

(Phys.org) —The solar lamp developed by the start-up LEDsafari is a more effective, safer, and less expensive form of illumination than the traditional oil lamp currently used by more than one billion people ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...