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The Plush & Nuggets Make It Playful Hackathon wrapped up last week with the debut of a wave of brand new inventions, each designed to encourage play. Eight teams hailing from the United States, France, and the United Kingdom have spent the last week hacking ordinary household objects and rebuilding them into items that inspire users to play, not only with the items themselves but also with each other. Each team was assigned an item and given a specific playful challenge. In the FabMSTIC of Grenoble, teams demonstrated the inventions they built to meet those challenges.

The “Make it Playful” team

Here are the creations from the Plush & Nuggets Make It Playful 2018 Hackathon:

Maker Challenge: A Coffee Maker That Promotes Social Interaction

The Result: The Beam Ball Coffee Machine

Seeking to bring users together through games, Beam Ball creators Surabhi Mahapatra and Maddie Burgoyne wanted thirsty users to work together towards a common goal. To use the Beam Ball machine, users first place a coffee capsule in the machine, then each position themselves over foot pedals that are linked with an LED strip. To get tasty coffee, players must successfully volley an LED light ball back and forth. Complete the challenge and both will be rewarded with hot cups of joe they can drink while chatting about the experience.

Maker Challenge: A Chair That Offers a Surprising Sitting Experience

The Result: The Chair That Rocks

You might think of sitting as a single-person activity, but The Chair That Rocks makes it collaborative. When stationary, colored lights along the chair pulse to beckon users to sit. Once they do, accelerometers monitor the chair’s motion, creating a “disco party” of lights that move in time with the rocking. Creators Amelia Lintern-Smith, Mikael Kalin, and Billy Caruso note that The Chair That Rocks isn’t just built for one. A platform attached to the back allows a friend to hop on, direct the rocking motion of the chair, and the light show that goes with it.

Maker Challenge: A Lamp That Makes Users Relax

The Result: The Compress and De-stress Lamp

Grab the high-tech stress ball attached to the Compress and De-stress Lamp and watch your tension light up before your eyes. Created by Erika Anderson and Sophia E, the lamp’s stress ball attachment has force-sensitive sensors that activate red, blue, and green lights within the lamp. How you squeeze the ball creates a unique mix of colors and creates not only a way for users to get their stress out, but also a way to turn their tension into aesthetically appealing visuals.

The Compress and De-stress Lamp

Maker Challenge: A Door That Encourages Collaboration

The Result: The Kinetic Door

Inspired to create a door that offers information about what’s happening inside the adjoining room, Julia Rue and States Lee looked to both art and engineering. The result is The Kinetic Door — a moving sculpture for meeting rooms and collaborative work spaces. Designed for those outside of a meeting room, The Kinetic Door features 16 orange and white shapes engineered to spin in different patterns. Organizations could customize what the patterns mean — for instance, all 16 spinning shapes could indicate that a meeting is in full swing while a steadily descending spinning pattern might show that a meeting is rapping up in a few minutes — giving those waiting for the space a subtle, artistically-inspired way to stay updated.

The Kinetic Door

Maker Challenge: A Pen That Begs to be Fidgeted With

The Result: The P~Wand

Armed with visual, auditory, and haptic feedback systems, the P~Wand provides a unique light and sound show customized to the user. When drawing, the P~Wand’s motion sensors track both direction and speed of movement, emitting correlating lights, sound effects, and pulsing vibrations that can influence the resulting artistic work. The goal, says P~Wand creators Robin Baumgarten and Etienne Guerry, was to create an artistic tool that inspires art.

Maker Challenge: A Business Card Holder That Helps Businesses

The Result: The Bizbox

Collecting business cards is necessary for working professionals, but the act itself is impersonal and often ineffective. Bruke Kifle and Jierui Fang seek to change that. The Bizbox is a business card collection system that gathers information beyond the card. Designed for events where professionals collect many cards at once — think trade shows and career fairs — the Bizbox contains four customizable slots, each of which has its own individualized feedback system. Kifle and Fang’s prototype was customized to the emotions one might experience during a hackathon, such as inquisitiveness, enthusiasm, accomplishment, and challenge. Instead of simply handing a business card over, new contacts write a note helping the Bizbox owner remember the encounter, slip their card into slot that best represents their feelings, and are treated to corresponding lights and music, making a more memorable encounter for the new contact and a value-added organizational system for the Bizbox owner.


The Bizbox 

Maker Challenge: A Coffee Table That Teaches Users New Skills

The Result: The Playable

Rima Das and Christine Vonder Haar want to teach you to calm down, and they’re hacking an ordinary coffee table to do it. Doubling as both a typical table and a de-stressing activity center, the Playable contains four compartments, each filled with an activity to help you unwind. Playing alone or in a group, users can rake soothing sand patterns with the built-in zen garden, tap their artistic side with a box of Lego, get meditative tracing patterns, and relax with as LED lights around the table lead them through deep breathing exercises.

About Plush & Nuggets

Founded in 2017, Plush & Nuggets uses playful design to solve problems for businesses and nonprofit groups. Working with clients ranging from Schneider Electric to Crédit Agricole to the United Nations, Plush & Nuggets facilitates design workshops and other programs that use the principals of play to help organizations uncover the real obstacles underlying existing issues and create innovative, outside-the-box solutions. For more information on who we are and what we do, send us an email at