Startup Weekend Maker Edition Showcases Products That Marry Offline with Online


Startup Weekend Maker Edition wrapped up last weekend in Toronto. The 54-hour event saw eleven teams present working prototypes of hardware projects which leveraged laser cutters, 3D printers, sensors and robotics.

The event was a reflection of the hardware renaissance we are seeing in the tech industry which has greatly been facilitated by more affordable hardware components and easier access to machinery like 3D printers. Many of the presentations at Startup Weekend also echoed the growing shift of meeting market demands with solutions that incorporate both hardware and software, merging the physical world with the digital one.

Cloud-based robotic pet toy, Pawly, was a great example of this. Pawly’s mission was to ease the guilt many pet owners have for leaving their pet at home when they go to work or travel. Pawly lets you interact with your pet remotely by allowing you to control their robotic toy using an app. The toy also comes equipped with a camera and speakers so you are not only able to play with your pet but can talk to it and see it too.

Charitable fitness program, GameFit, was created to capitalize on the activity tracker trend. GameFit is like Kiva meets Fitbit. The app motivates the user by challenging them to meet a fitness goal but instead of just winning points, successfully completing a challenge will give money to people in need around the world. GameFit measures activity by using the motion sensors of existing hardware on the market like Jawbone UP, Fitbit or Runkeeper. Once you meet your goal, GameFit will loan money to an individual of your choosing on your behalf.

Startup Weekend’s first prize went to a team who exemplified a marriage between offline and online through storytelling. Griflens is an interactive children’s platform which uses 3D printing and QR codes. Created by a group of Maker Moms, Griflens are a set of story beads which can be scanned and activated online to tell a story. Different stories come to life online depending on the collection of beads you have.

“I had this idea to create a new kind of interactive and inspirational toy for my children. Through Startup Weekend Maker Edition, I was able to combine the technological talents and maker skills necessary to bring this idea to life,” said Griflens team leader Alison Gibbins.

Griflens will benefit greatly from the MakerBot Replicator 2 they won as part of the $20,000 prize pack from Startup Weekend. They intend to take Griflens to market and are currently accepting pre-orders on their site. At start, Griflens will offer pre-packaged beads but as they grow they intend to allow children to create their own beads by submitting them to be 3d printed. Pre-packaged sets retail at $5.99 and they will start shipping in January of next year.

Griflens is currently representing Toronto in the Global Startup Battle with over 20,000 participants in over 200 cities to compete for prizes valued over $500,000 and a world title.

Tom Emrich

Tom Emrich

As a writer, consultant and community builder, Tom Emrich uses his passion for new technologies to act as a catalyst to bring on the future. He founded We Are Wearables, an organization that rallies the tech community together to discover, discuss and demo wearable tech in order to foster adoption and facilitate innovation in the wearable space. We Are Wearables is the largest wearable tech community of its kind in the world with chapters in Toronto, Ottawa and Chicago. Tom writes regularly about wearables and other emerging technologies for MobileSyrup, BetaKit, Design News and Designers of Things. He also works with startups, and large organizations as an advisor and consultant offering assistance on product development, marketing and organizational strategy.