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IDEA Hacks was founded in 2014 by members of UCLA IEEE and Theta Tau Upsilon Delta. Ever since our first hackathon in January 2015, IDEA Hacks’ vision has been to provide engineering students with a space to learn, create, and inspire one another. As the first and largest hardware hackathon in California, we encourage interdisciplinary teams to build hands-on components as opposed to a software hackathon.

Throughout the years we’ve increased the breadth of our event, and at our last hackathon over 200 hackers participated. Our goals are to benefit the engineering community and the community as a whole by promoting innovation in areas that matter. Featured projects include an GPS-based navigator, activity tracker, and many more!





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First Place: Treasure Tracker

2022 first place

TEAM: Drew Gautier, Dominic Olson, Trevor Guo, Cameron Fiske, Getty George

PROJECT: The Treasure Tracker is an electronically enchanted compass. It allows users to record their current location, then will point back to their original location, no matter how far they wander.

LINK: https://devpost.com/software/pirate-compass

Second Place: Trinket

2022 second place

TEAM: Fred Chu, Justin Jianto, Caleb Terrill, Bryan Wong

PROJECT: A gamified hiking companion that incentivizes fitness and exploration through randomized objectives and cute collectible virtual creatures called Trinkets!

LINK: https://devpost.com/software/trinket

Third Place: LoRax

2022 second place

TEAM: Matthew Nieva, Raj Piskala, Siddhant Gupta, Timothy Jacques, Premkumar Giridhar

PROJECT: LoRax aims to decrease wildfire risk by using a scalable network of IoT devices to gather real time data on environmental risk factors, saving lives and homes through a convenient mobile app.

LINK: https://devpost.com/software/lorax-5gdt9i





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Motion Box First Place: Zoomsday Clock

2021 motion first place

TEAM: Brady Ankenbrandt, Courtney Gibbons

PROJECT: Zoomsday Clock is a warning indicator for video conferencing! It displays a red light if the user is in a meeting and reports how much time is left. A wave of the hand reveals when that meeting ends.

Audio Visual Box First Place: bud

2021 audio visual first place

TEAM: Bryan Wong, Kathy Daniels

PROJECT: bud is an IoT gardening assistant that uses a variety of sensors to monitor a house plant’s soil moisture, air humidity, temperature, and light intensity conditions. The “buddy” periodically reads and writes sensor data to a Google Firebase database, letting users compare their plant against target values on the bud website.

Texas Instruments Box First Place: myPlantMonitor

2021 ti first place

TEAM: Olivia Loh

PROJECT: myPlantMonitor regulates soil moisture levels to alert users about watering their plant as well as plant movement. The plant pot is mounted on a car (controlled by myPlantMonitor) that will move the plant closer towards sunlight.



2020 logo


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First Place: Napkn

2020 first place

TEAM: Caleb Terrill, Fred Chu, Caitlyn Chau, Lucas Wolter, Bryan Wong

PROJECT: Napkn is a convenient and intuitive tabletop IoT table reservation device. With a simple tap of a RFID-enabled card, users can check in to a table, reserving it for a predefined duration. Once the user is finished using their reserved dining hall table, library table, etc., all it takes is another tap of their RFID card to free the table for use.

Second Place: Penley

2020 second place

TEAM: Max Gong, Aidan Cookson, Calvin Chang, Daniel Truong, Krish Kabra

PROJECT: Penley makes note taking easier by transcribing your notes directly to your computer. Powered by an Arduino Nano and a TensorFlow neural network, Penley works on any surface.

Third Place: Retro Switch

2020 third place

TEAM: Bradley Schulz, Aditya Mishra, Tyler Price, James Tseng

PROJECT: Designed to limit energy use and maximize convienence, the RetroSwitch is an automatic light switch upgrade. The Retroswitch combines WiFi control and intelligent motion detection to automate turning lights on and off. It is super easy to install; the Retroswitch comes in a package that can be magnetically mounted over any existing light switch.



2019 logo


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First Place: Pop 'n Lock

2019 first place

TEAM: Matthew Wang, Ashvin Nagarajan, Jeff Anderson, Allison Chen, Juan Banchs

PROJECT: Our project was a Smart Lock that uses an industry standard ball-bearing lock design and arduino powered RFID sensor so that consumers can lock and unlock the lock using a BruinCard. We presented it as a improvement upon existing smart locks that are susceptible to malware.

Second Place: Braille Translator

2019 second place

TEAM: Garo Mazmanian, Tanmaya Hada, Pranav Balgi, Peter Oh, Hersh Joshi

PROJECT: The braille reader reads braille of one script, translates it, and then speaks it out in the listener's native tongue. This aims to make travel more accessible to the blind population by allowing the blind to understand braille in a different language.

Third Place: 3feet

2019 third place

TEAM: Shriniket Buche, Bochi Lin, Jae Hyeong Park, Richard DeAmicis, Wei Dong

PROJECT: 3feet is a hardware and software bicycle and electric scooter protection system. The system utilizes a number of sensors on the bicycle to record when automobiles are approaching and notifies riders or city officials appropiately.



2018 logo


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First Place: ASL Recognition Platform

2018 first place

TEAM: Julian Mendel, Mark Nasielski, Serene Kamal, Michelle Du, Eric Sarnoff Espinosa

PROJECT: With a special glove, users can use sign language to change the color of an LED.

Second Place: Less Stress Dress

2018 second place

TEAM: Jimmy Byrne, Josh Ren, Anshul Aggarwal, Nina Chikanov, Allison Doami

PROJECT: Aimed at visually impaired people, this project takes current weather information around the world to choose the perfect outfit for the user.

Third Place: Safe Stove

2018 third place

TEAM: Chris Hailey, Ishan Shah, Joel Joseph, Adithya Bellathur, Janeline Wong

PROJECT: Using ultrasonic sensors, capacitive touch and facial recognition to reduce the likelihood of cooking fires.



2017 logo


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First Place: Light-Up Frisbee

2017 first place

TEAM: Andrew Chen, Matthew Wong, Robert Zalog, and Christine Chen (not pictured)

PROJECT: A ‘smart’ Frisbee that measures angular velocity while it is being thrown and gives feedback to the user once it is caught. Uses an Arduino that signals to the user through RGB LEDs.

Second Place: Rundora

2017 second place

TEAM: Tim Ling, Shuang Feng, Jingxian Xu, and Tianyu Deng

PROJECT: Device changes the tempo of the music based on the heart rate of the runner.

Third Place: Spiro

2017 third place

TEAM: Andrew Arifin, Sean Oh, Jonathan Hurwitz, and Robert Devlin

PROJECT: Spiro is a device designed to help people better manage anxiety. Using an elastic chestband to alert you to irregular breathing potentially, the paired app and smartwatch guides the user through a self-regulation breathing exercise. Using customizable colors and soft lighting, the device helps a user take a step back from their situation and just breathe.

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