FlowIO, a project led by Responsive Environments PhD student Ali Shtarbanov, was selected as the Grand Prize winner of this year's Hackaday Prize. The project redesigns the role of pneumatics in soft robotics by presenting a miniature pneumatics development platform with a software toolkit for control, actuation, and sensing of soft programmable materials. This system makes it easy to connect the pumps, valves, actuators, and sensors necessary to bring pneumatics projects to life.
The Hackaday Prize is a global hardware design challenge focused on widespread and impactful innovation. This year, innovators were tasked to rethink and refresh familiar concepts across multiple facets of hardware. FlowIO responded by reevaluating how wearables and collaborative robots function, and in the process revealed new applications of pneumatics in its unique design; its main module features five pneumatic channels and connects up to other modules that support pumps, sensors, and general IO. This arrangement promotes more effortless integration of pneumatics in a variety of projects, and provides a more accessible (and potentially affordable) platform for these uses.
The Grand Prize carries an award of $25,000 and a Supplyframe DesignLab residency to continue project development. The second, third, fourth, and fifth place winners were also announced at the Hackaday Remoticon virtual conference on the evening of Saturday, November 20.
FlowIO is also the winner of the iF DESIGN TALENT AWARD 2021 and the CHI 2021 Student Research Competition (Graduate Level). The project has been honored at the 2021 A'Design Awards as well.