Energy consumption is a worrying problem in a world driven by the inescapable momentum of progress. Its effects on our planet are becoming increasingly evident and no less devastating. With this in mind we decided to address the issue the best way we know how, with a hackathon.
In late 2015 we hosted a hackathon centred on the concept of off-grid living. The brief was to create a prototype that could help individuals and communities live off of the grid. Five teams took part and had 8 hours to produce their ideas; and a bunch of great ideas there were! By the end of the day, our judging panel were super impressed with more than one idea and could do nothing but award two winners.
The first winner was a product and app idea, aptly named Wattsdog, which aims to help people manage power consumption of household appliances and share power-saving achievements on social media. The Wattsdog team built a working prototype of a smart plug and mapped out an ecosystem that demonstrated how the product could persuade users to actively want to save power in their homes.
The second winner, Bright Cart, was a project aimed towards helping out local street recyclers who have a huge presence in Johannesburg. These recyclers usually pull carts around town from one stop to the next, picking up any pieces of scrap metal and refuse they can find. The Bright Cart team wanted to help by enabling them to generate their own power. By building a piezoelectric generator that can attach to the recycling carts, the recyclers can generate electricity while on the move and could later use the stored energy for hazard lights, flashlights and charging devices.
All of the teams who participated, including those who didn’t get the judges’ nods, had a great time and presented some very interesting ideas. The off-grid theme is certainly fertile territory for new ideas and innovation, and given the urgency of the issue, it’s definitely a challenge that Isobar nowlab would love to address again. So for now, gather your thoughts for a sustainable future and watch this space, our next off-grid hack is sure to be awesome!