by Yaffi Spodek | Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019

Undergraduate and graduate students were challenged to build smart devices during a 24-hour Hardware Hackathon at the FAU College of Engineering and Computer Science. An annual event, this year’s teams were tasked with using images and video in AI services to build a smart device designed to solve a real-world problem.

In the weeks leading up to the Hackathon, 75 students participated in three training workshops led by IBM and rewardStyle engineers to teach them how to build the devices, using hardware and IBM Watson IoT services and integrating additional sensors on the platform. Students also received free IoT hardware kits with an integrated camera to build an AI device based on the IBM Watson IoT platform.
“The students learned new technologies and implemented AI solutions in less than three weeks, using hardware, software, cloud, and system integration,” said Hari Kalva, PhD, Associate Chair and Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, who organized the Hackathon. “The devices they built were truly innovative and impressive in terms of their design and use of advanced AI technology.”
At the end of the Hackathon, each of the 12 teams demonstrated their finished product. They described what their device was, explained what problem they were addressing, highlighted design features, and reflected on what they learned throughout the process. They also answered questions from a panel of judges, who evaluated each project based on several criteria, including creativity, hardware, and completeness of solution.

The first-place team developed a solution to encourage and reinforce empathy in children with Autism. Other projects included visual recognition devices, motion sensors and cameras intended to: identify weapons to prevent shootings; help colorblind people distinguish colors; detect obstacles for those who are visually impaired; take attendance in the classroom, provide membership access at stores in place of a physical card; and identify lot occupancy to more easily find parking spots.

Event sponsors included rewardStyle, IBM Watson, Stryker, and the IEEE Palm Beach Section.