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The BYTE is the Grand Prize Winner of the 2020 Hackaday Prize

The BYTE, an open-source mouth-actuated input device for people with physical challenges has just been named the Grand Prize winner of the 2020 Hackaday Prize. The award for claiming the top place and title of “Best All Around” in this global engineering initiative is $50,000. Five other top winners and four honorable mentions were also named during this evening’s Hackaday Prize Ceremony, held during the Hackaday Remoticon virtual conference.

This year’s Hackaday Prize focused on challenges put forth by four non-profit partners who have first hand knowledge of the problems that need solving as they work to accomplish their missions. These organizations are Conservation X Labs, United Cerebral Palsy Los Angeles, CalEarth, and Field Ready. Join us below for more on the grand prize winner and to see the Best in Category and Honorable Mention winners from each non-profit challenge, as well as the Best Wildcard project.

Over $200,000 in cash prizes have been distributed as part of this year’s initiative where hundreds of hardware hackers, makers, and artists competed to build a better future.

Best All Around: The BYTE

The BYTE is the Grand Prize winner of the 2020 Hackaday Prize. This responsive hands-free interface is affordable, versatile, and will be life changing for people who have limited or no mobility for using traditional input devices. The BYTE has a tongue sensor for directional movement and a pressure sensitive bite sensor for selection input.

At first glance this is a computer mouse you can put in your mouth. Since the jaw and tongue are core motor functions in humans, many people who have limited or no control over other parts of their body still retain great mobility in their mouth. Being otherwise unable to affect the world around them, mouth-based interfaces have been transformative.

The BYTE goes far beyond the utility of traditional sip-and-puff interfaces by internalizing the joystick functionality using tongue pressure, converting the air pressure-based input to bite control, adding a vibration motor for haptic feedback, and implementing advanced control options in how the sensors can be used. Light bite pressure and directional input (we’ll call that d-pad for short) moves the mouse, firm bites are clicks, even pressure on the d-pad is mapped as custom input as is a long bite, and pressing up or down on the d-pad without a bite will scroll.

The BYTE’s input sensors have been designed to fit inside of an adult-sized pacifier nipple, readily available at low cost and safe to have inside your mouth. The wire that snakes out ends in an RJ45 phone jack to interface with a small board that converts the signals to a USB connection. While a number of 3D-printed parts have been used in the prototype, these would be easy to injection mold as part of a volume manufacturing run.

The United Cerebral Palsy Los Angeles design brief for the 2020 Hackaday Prize specifically called for new designs of trackballs or joysticks that could be made affordable and open source, and be a tool for greater independence in the lives of those with physical challenges. The well-engineered design of the BYTE fulfills those goals and is a deserving recipient of the grand prize. Congratulations!

Conservation X Labs Prizes:

Best in Category: Solar Scare Mosquito 2.0

This floating sensor is designed to detect and classify mosquitoes present in an area to help researchers know if the region is at risk of spreading disease based on the species and sex of the mosquitoes. It also seeks to help eliminate their ability to reproduce by using air bubble to cause surface ripples in the water, preventing larvae from breathing at the surface of stagnant water. Prize: $10,000

Honorable Mention: WaterAid

This portable sensor package can gather and report water-quality data. It includes a set-and-forget solution for data collection, using multiple water sensors to report back via a 3G connection and powered by a solar panel. The online dashboard developed as part of the project means the data is not only available, but actionable. Prize: $3,000

Field Ready Prizes:

Best in Category: UVA

Rapid manufacturing and repair is an important part of disaster recovery. Ultraviolet-curable adhesives are often used in traditional manufacturing, this project provides a powerful and affordable UV curing wand for use in the field. Even at the small scale of prototyping it looks to lower the cost of traditional tools by up to five times. Prize: $10,000

Honorable Mention: OpenFluidWarmer

IV fluids that are stored under refrigeration must be warmed before they can be used. This is no problem at established hospitals, but becomes a major issue in the field. This solution combines hot plates, a winding path for IV tubing, and an electronic controller to create a fluid warmer that could be built on scene. Prize: $3,000

United Cerebral Palsy Los Angeles Prizes:

Best in Category: Exoskeleton Gloves

Adding strength and dexterity to a mechanism as versatile as the human hand is a game changer. This assistive device uses a clever pneumatic jamming mechanism for each finger, along with a thumb-like shelf on the heel of the hand for extra gripping surface, and a flex sensor system to add the ability to detect what the user is doing with their hands. Prize: $10,000

Honorable Mention: Adaptive Interface Harmonica

A musical harmonica uses different channels for air to play different notes. The Magpie MIDI project harnesses that versatility into a sip-and-puff system. The different channels are detected individually, and the mount for the harmonica is itself a joystick that can be used for navigation. Prize: $3,000

CalEarth Prizes:

Best in Category: Propel-E 450

Renewable energy is a powerful tool in combating climate change. This wind turbine is capable of outputting 450 Watts of power and is mostly 3D-printed. From the blades, to the custom-wrapped wire coils, it’s a blueprint for building your own, whether it’s an exact copy or you plan to make your own changes to move the open source design forward. Prize: $10,000

Honorable Mention: WinDIY

This wind turbine design (whose name is pronounced “windy”) solves a major issue by delivering variable pitch to the three blades. This is used to adjust how much wind is caught by the turbine, driving the generator at the most efficient speed, or letting the wind pass harmlessly by to avoid over-speed problems that would damage it during strong wind conditions. Prize: $3,000

Best Wildcard:

PolySense: Augmenting Materials with Electrical Properties

The Wildcard category is for projects that are worthwhile but that didn’t address one of the specific challenges outlined by our non-profit partners this year.

What if you could turn any textile or porous material into a sensor? That’s the question asked and answered by the PolySense project that uses piezoresistive dye to build sensors from textiles. This could be shirts and pants, scraps of fabric, paper, or many other materials. Using traditional dying techniques like tie-dying, different areas can perform specific sensing tasks. Prize: $5,000

Spectacular Accomplishments During a Very Difficult Year

Congratulations to all who entered the 2020 Hackaday Prize. It has been an incredibly difficult year as tragic loss of life and suffering caused by the coronavirus outbreak swept the globe. What it has proven is that we are stronger together, working to help one another whenever and wherever possible. This outbreak is among the many challenges facing humanity. Seeing so many entries of the Hackaday Prize striving to provide better independence for the physically challenged, more access to housing and infrastructure for those in crisis, and answers to pollution and climate change are beacons of hope.

Thank you to all who entered, to our expert judges and mentors, and to the staff at our non-profit partners. Dedicating your time and talent to these issues leads the way. It sets the example for others to follow, and builds on a movement throughout the world of people and initiatives working to solve hard problems, and that’s something that really matters.

The HackadayPrize2020 is Sponsored by:





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10 Websites and Apps All Designers Should Be Using

As a designer, we’re overloaded with choices every day, but there are some apps that are absolutely worth your time and investment.

Finding the best ones and most useful ones can be a difficult task, so we’re going to make things easy for you and give you our top 10 apps and websites we couldn’t live without.

So sit back, relax, eat your popcorn, and let’s get into this list.

If You’re a Designer, You Better Be Using These Apps and Sites

Whether it’s for inspiration or it’s a useful tool that will make your life easier, we’re covering it today.

Let’s do it!

1. Dribbble

dribble explore page

This one is probably obvious, because if you’re a designer, then you know Dribbble.

Type literally anything you’re looking for in the search bar and see what other creative people, like yourself, created and uploaded. 

You can upload your own content to share and get exposure, or you can get inspiration for your next project.

You can also follow other designers and have an awesome feed page where you’ll find inspiration you didn’t even know you were looking for.

But we all know that if you’re looking for any type of graphic design inspiration you’re either going to come here or go to Behance. Which leads me to my next must-use design site.

2. Behance

Another great platform where you can get incredible amounts of inspiration from is Behance.

You can also follow other designers and upload your own work there as well.

We recommend that you use both Dribble and Behance to make the most of your inspiration hunt.

And the other obvious ones, don’t sleep on Instagram or Pinterest either!

3. Adobe XD

Adobe XD (and Adobe in general) might be the best thing that happened to designers, especially those that work with other designers.

You can literally work on the same project, in real time, and both make edits at the same time.

Adobe XD has everything you need for team projects. You can edit together, give feedback, work in real time, and everyone stays on the same page at all times.

4. Adobe Edge Inspect

As a designer, you have to make sure your work looks good across all devices.

That’s where Adobe Edge Inspect comes in.

All you need to do is pair your smartphone or tablet to your computer and you can see exactly what your designs will look like across devices.

With Adobe Edge inspect, you will be able to see real-time results from changes to HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

5. Adobe Color

If you want to save time on finding quality color schemes that look bomb, then you’re going to want to get your hands on Adobe Color.

Create and save a color scheme that works for you.

Drag the pins around the color wheel and let Adobe work its magic for you.

6. Adobe Creative Cloud

If you can’t decide what apps you absolutely need and want to invest a lot of money into, well, you’re not alone.

One thing you could do is sign up for Adobe Creative Cloud.

Adobe Creative Cloud is a platform made for creators and artists.

You’ll get access to 20+ apps that will help you be the best artist you can be.

“Creative Cloud is a collection of 20+ desktop and mobile apps and services for photography, design, video, web, UX and more. Now you can take your ideas to new places with Photoshop on the iPad, draw and paint with Fresco, and design for 3D and AR. Join our global creative community — and make something better together.”

Start a free trial today, find out what you like, and invest in your future!

7. Milanote

Milanote will help you stay creative and stay organized.

Yes, I totally believe that there is organization in chaos, but I also like to try to keep a tidy workspace, which equals a tidy mind.

With Milanote you can organize your ideas and projects into visual boards.

You can put all your ideas into one place, make a vision board, and invite your team to see it.

8. Color Hunt

You guys already know that we are huge fans of Gal Shir here at Web Design Ledger.

If you don’t know about him and his work, we have an article where we featured him as Designer of the Week!

Anyway, he made this awesome free and open platform, called Color Hunt, where you can get color inspiration by going through thousands of trendy and hand-picked color palettes.

If you just scroll through, you’ll see tons of different, gorgeous color palettes, and I’m sure you’re bound to find the perfect one for you and your next project.

9. iFontMaker

If you’re really looking for an original font, you might as well create your own.

If you have an iPad, then you need to get iFontMaker ASAP.

In just five minutes, you can create your own custom font.

You can be as crazy or as elegant as you want.

I think this is actually one of the coolest apps I’ve seen in a hot minute.

10. Font Shop

And finally, I present to you, the Font Shop.

If you feel like you can’t find the right font anywhere, try the Font Shop.

They have over 130,000 fonts! Which is quite frankly, insane.

If you’re looking for something classic, they’ve got it. Something funky? They got it.

Give it a go and see what you find!

Just a Few of My Favorite Things…

Of course there are tons of apps that are absolutely essential for your work, and everyone’s list will be slightly different.

These were just a few of the apps I go back and forth with throughout the work day and thought I’d share to make your life a little bit easier.

Next week I’ll make another list if you guys are interested in seeing that, then stay tuned and keep checking back in on the blog.

What are you must-have design tools that you use on a daily basis that I didn’t cover?

Let me know in the comments.

Until next time,

Stay safe and stay creative, folks!

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In 2019 You Can Expect Video Marketing to Take Over

2019 comes bearing brand-new patterns as suitable for an approaching year.

Yep, the marketing market is likewise tapped on with brand-new patterns and video marketing is warming up and ending up being a video game changer for business owners and online marketers.

Video marketing was an addictive source of home entertainment for a while now, specifically with mobile owners hiding at every corner of the world. According to Google, half of 18-34-year-old YouTube customers would drop what they’’ re doing to see a brand-new video by their preferred developer. As years go by, the worth of videos is undoubtedly skyrocketing with small modifications from previous years. Let’’ s see how.

1. ‘ Vlogging’ ends up being an even larger hit

Vlogging has actually ended up being a substantial pattern gradually. It’’ s blogging become video logging that covers a broad label of material, such as news products, item evaluations, tutorials, comic sections and more. All you require is your smart device, a video modifying software application and a YouTube or a Vimeo channel.

You can pick to share whatever it is you desire from cooking dishes, device examines to your latest star impressions.

For online marketers, videos can substantially broaden the reach to brand-new customers a lot simpler than in the past.

Research from Aberdeen on ““ The Impact of Video Marketing” ” notes that video marketing ended up being a preferable pattern that produces more income year-over-year which companies with video users grow their profits 49% faster than those that do not have video users.

Gary Vaynerchuk records his life as a business owner by means of his DailyVee vlog on YouTube which has almost 2 million customers. Gary’’ s vlogs vary where he typically shares important company insights to showcasing his workmanship as a business person and CEO of VaynerMedia.

Vlogging is a terrific chance to grow your brand name and audience. Simply get your smart device, open the post, cam, and record.

.2. Live videos took the world by storm.

People are engaging with live videos especially. According to Livestream , 82% of brand name audiences choose live video from a brand name to social posts, and Facebook states that individuals tend to invest triple the quantity of time seeing a video when it’’ s live since of the nature of live material. Facebook Live, Instagram Live, YouTube and even Twitch let you develop more powerful and more individual relationships with your audience since your audiences will feel you’re resolving them personally – – a reality that will assist generate a discussion, remarks, concerns and eventually conversions.

You can display brand-new items, evaluations, tutorials, webinars, Q&&A sessions, interviews and what not to much better communicate with your audience, and the very best thing is that is costs absolutely nothing.

““ The future of streaming video success comes from leaders that accept discussion, being human, and releasing,” ” states Kathy Klotz-Guest, creator of

Once you enable users to take part in your storytelling and ditch your typical script, you will enhance your client experience.

.3. Virtual truth.

More and more brand names are incorporating virtual truth to display an item or their brand name and develop a special experience for their clients.

This boundaryless 3-dimensional environment is a remarkable innovation that assists users seem like an important part of your brand name and allows them to record the essence of what it is you need to provide, be it trips, DIY tutorials, or home-remodeling sessions.

According to Statista, VR in addition to AR (increased truth) is getting appeal with a financial effect anticipated to reach 29.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2020.

TOMS, for instance, is a brand name that brought their favorable vision to life with their ““ a walk in their shoes ” VR project. With the aid of AT&&T, TOMS show a VR video to their shop consumers showcasing among their consumers taking a trip from California to Colombia to fulfill a kid who gains from his purchase.

Using VR innovation, TOMS can reveal the real social and ecological effect each purchase starts. They bring their clients along to the journey and produce life-altering experiences right from a computer system or mobile phone.

.4. 360-degree videos.

Videos wear’’ t opt for less than 360-degree view to develop a more immersive experience. While this works like an appeal for travel-centric brand names, it appears that increasingly more brand names will embrace this current arrival to allow audiences to manage their viewpoint much better and delight in the flight.

Getting imaginative with a 360 video is not tough. It just needs an excellent electronic camera and modifying software application.Warner Bros took their ““ The Conjuring 2 ” film trailer to the next level. We can see the virtual home in 360 degrees and the background music and scary noises magnify the experience completely. This seems like a real-life haunted home which was Warner Bros’ ’ suspenseful intent.

.5. YouTube advertisements concur TELEVISION screens.

In older days, TELEVISION was the prime platform for playing advertisements which were and most likely still is infamously pricey. And while running advertisements on YouTube is even more budget friendly, it’’ s apparent which platform interest marketers.

According to Think with Google, YouTube reaches more grownups 18+ throughout primetime than any cable television network carries out in a typical week.

Once YouTube revealed it is letting marketers run projects and target users seeing YouTube on TELEVISION screens, whatever altered.

YouTube’’ s “ TELEVISION screens gadget type ” choice on its Google Ads platform, makes it possible for marketers to target audiences utilizing various streaming gadgets such as Google’’ s own Chromecast, Apple TELEVISION, computer game consoles and clever TELEVISION’’ s.


Moreover, YouTube likewise supplies marketers analytics tools particular to running advertisements on TELEVISION screens, so they can plan how efficient their projects are.

.Now, it’’ s approximately you.

These patterns may substantially form the method you’’ ve been running your projects previously. If videos were not a part of your marketing program, think about incorporating them to get ahead and reach more individuals than in the past. Keep in mind, developing attractive videos is completely manageable, no matter the kind of material you select to record. You’’ ll make certain to capture a lot more attention.


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So What is Protein Folding, Anyway?

The current COVID-19 pandemic is rife with problems that hackers have attacked with gusto. From 3D printed face shields and homebrew face masks to replacements for full-fledged mechanical ventilators, the outpouring of ideas has been inspirational and heartwarming. At the same time there have been many efforts in a different area: research aimed at fighting the virus itself.

Getting to the root of the problem seems to have the most potential for ending this pandemic and getting ahead of future ones, and that’s the “know your enemy” problem that the distributed computing effort known as Folding@Home aims to address. Millions of people have signed up to donate cycles from spare PCs and GPUs, and in the process have created the largest supercomputer in history.

But what exactly are all these exaFLOPS being used for? Why is protein folding something to direct so much computational might toward? What’s the biochemistry behind this, and why do proteins need to fold in the first place? Here’s a brief look at protein folding: what it is, how it happens, and why it’s important.

First Things First: What Do Proteins Do?

Proteins are crucial to life. They provide not only the structural elements of the cell, but also serve as the enzymes that catalyze just about every biochemical reaction. Proteins, whether structural or enzymatic, are long chains of amino acids that are linked end-to-end in a specific sequence. The functions of proteins are determined by which amino acids are present at various locations on and in the protein. If a protein needs to bind to a positively charged molecule, for example, the binding site might be full of negatively charged amino acids.

To understand how proteins achieve the structure that defines their function, a quick review of the basics of molecular biology and the flow of information in the cell is in order.

The production, or expression, of a protein begins with the process of transcription. During transcription, the double-stranded DNA that holds the genetic information in a cell is partially unwound, exposing the nitrogenous bases of the DNA to an enzyme called RNA polymerase, often referred to as RNAPol. RNAPol’s job is to make an RNA copy, or transcript, of the gene. This copy of the gene, called messenger RNA or mRNA, is a single-stranded molecule that is perfect for directing the protein manufacturing machinery of the cell, the ribosomes, in a process called translation.

Ribosomes act like a jig, taking the mRNA template and matching it up to other small bits of RNA called transfer RNA, or tRNA. Each tRNA has two main active areas — one that has a three-base section called an anticodon that matches up with complementary codons on the mRNA, and a region for binding an amino acid that’s specific for that codon. During translation, tRNA molecules randomly try to bind to the mRNA in the ribosome using their anticodon. When a match is made, the tRNA molecule attaches its amino acid to the previous amino acid, forming another link in the chain of amino acids coded for by the mRNA.

This sequence of amino acids is the first tier of structural hierarchy in a protein, and is referred to as the protein’s primary structure. The entire three-dimensional structure of the protein, and indeed its function, comes directly from the primary structure through the different properties of each of those amino acids and how they interact with each other. If it weren’t for these chemical properties and interactions between amino acids, polypeptides would just remain linear sequences with no three-dimensional structure. We see this all the time in cooking, which is the heat-induced denaturation of the three-dimensional structure of proteins.

Long-Distance Connections Between Parts of Proteins

The level of structure beyond the primary structure is cleverly called the secondary structure, and includes fairly short-range hydrogen bonds between amino acids. These stabilizing interactions form two main motifs: the alpha-helix and the beta-pleated sheet. The alpha-helix forms a tightly coiled polypeptide region, while the beta-sheet is a flat, broad area. Both motifs have structural properties as well as functional properties, depending on the characteristics of the amino acids within them. For example, if an alpha-helix has primarily hydrophilic amino acids within it, like arginine and lysine, it’s likely to be involved in aqueous reactions.

alpha-helix and beta-sheet motifs in proteins. The hydrogen bonds form as the protein is being expressed. Source: OpenStax Biology

Proteins combine these two motifs, as well as variations on their themes, to form the next level of structure, the tertiary structure. Unlike the simple motifs of the secondary structure, tertiary structure tends to be driven more by hydrophobicity. Most proteins tend to have highly hydrophobic amino acids, like alanine and methionine, at their core, where water is excluded due to the “greasy” nature of the residues. These structures will often show up in transmembrane proteins, which are embedded in the lipid bilayer membrane surrounding cells. The hydrophobic domains on the protein are thermodynamically stable inside the fatty interior of the membrane, while the hydrophilic regions of the protein are exposed to the aqueous environment on either side of the membrane.

Tertiary structures also tend to be stabilized by long-distance bonds between amino acids. The classic example of this is the disulfide bridge, which often occurs between two cysteine residues. If you’ve ever been to a hair salon and smelled the slight rotten-egg stink of someone getting a perm, you’re witnessing the partial denaturation of the tertiary structure of keratin in hair by the reduction of disulfide bonds using sulfur-containing thiol compounds.

Tertiary structure is stabilized by long-distance interactions, like hydrophobicity and disulfide bonds. Source: OpenStax Biology

Disulfide bridges can occur between cysteine residues in the same chain of polypeptides, or between cysteines locate in completed different chains. Interactions between different polypeptide chains are the fourth level of protein structure, the quaternary structure. The hemoglobin in your blood is a perfect example of quaternary structure. Each hemoglobin molecule is formed by four identical globin protein subunits, each of which is held in a specific conformation by disulfide bridges within the polypeptide as well as bonding with the iron-containing heme molecule. All four globin subunits are bound together by intermolecular disulfide bridges, and the entire molecule acts as one to bind up to four oxygen molecules at once, and to release them when needed.

Modeling Structures In a Search for Solutions to the Illness

Polypeptide chains begin folding into their final shape during translation, as the growing chain is extruded from the ribosome, similar to the way a piece of straightened memory wire can snap into a complex shape when heated. But as is always the case with biology, there’s much more to the story.

In many cells, there is extensive editing of the transcribed genes that occurs before translation, which alters the primary structure vastly compared to the raw base sequence of the gene. The translational machinery also often enlists the help of molecular chaperones, proteins that temporarily bind to the nascent polypeptide chain to prevent it from taking an intermediate structure that would prevent it from taking its final shape.

All this is to say that predicting the final shape of a protein from the primary structure is not trivial. For decades, the only way to explore protein structure was with physical methods like X-ray crystallography. It wasn’t until the late 1960s that biophysical chemists started building computational models for protein folding, focused mainly on modeling the secondary structure of a protein. These methods and their descendants take a vast amount of input data in addition to the primary structure sequence, such as tables of bond angles between amino acids, lists of hydrophobicity, charge states, and even conservation of structure and function over evolutionary timescales to make a best guess at what a protein is going to look like.

Current computational methods for secondary structure prediction, like those running on Folding@Home’s network right now, run at about 80% accuracy, which is pretty good considering the complexity of the task. The data generated by the folding prediction models for proteins like the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein will be coupled with physical study data to come up with a firm structure for the protein, and perhaps give us insights into how the virus binds to the human angiotension converting enzyme-2 (ACE-2) receptors that line the respiratory tract, which is its path into the body. If we can figure out the structure, we might be able to find drugs to block binding and prevent infection.

Protein folding research is central to our understanding of so many diseases and infections that even once we figure out a way to beat COVID-19, the Folding@Home network, which as seen such explosive growth over the past month, will not go idle for long. The network is a research tool well-suited to exploring protein models central to dozens of diseases that are related to misfolded proteins, such as Alzheimer’s and variant Cruetzfeldt-Jakob disease, often incorrectly called mad-cow disease. And when the next virus inevitably comes along, all that horsepower, and all the experience being gained in managing it, will be ready to go again.

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