News // Hackathon - June 2015

ICEBox Data Mesh Wins The PCH Hardware Hackathon

Ten new consumer devices designed and created during one weekend in Kitchener-Waterloo

ICEBox Data Mesh which developed and prototyped a wireless mesh network and content delivery system has won the PCH Hardware Hackathon in Kitchener-Waterloo.

The product, which provides a wireless ad hoc network, delivering offline access to the Internet was designed and created in just 54 hours, from Friday 12 June through Sunday 14 June.

The two-day PCH Hardware Hackathon, took place at the Tannery Event Center in Kitchener, Ontario.

The event was hosted in partnership with Communitech and VeloCity and follows successful PCH Hackathons in Toronto, San Francisco and Dublin, Ireland.

Over the course of the weekend, over 120 participants collaborated to hack new hardware devices from concept, to working prototype, to final product.

They ultimately developed a range of functioning hardware devices that have the potential to have consumer appeal and to answer a consumer need.

  • First prize went to ICEBox Data Mesh, which developed and prototyped a wireless ad hoc network that delivers cached versions of websites and multimedia content in places with unreliable infrastructure, making the Internet affordable. The team was awarded a $3,000CAD cash prize as well as free company incorporation with LaBarge Weinstein and $10,000CAD in Celery credits. In addition, the winning team won an all access pass to Solid conference and $800 in travel costs, courtesy of O’Reilly;
  • Second prize was awarded to Bricks & Bytes, which created a product that helps educate children with tactile modules that connect to an application. The team received $5,000 in Celery credits;
  • Third prize was awarded to DAWN, which developed a device that automatically adjusts your blinds according to the climate, helping consumers reduce energy costs and optimize their environment. The team received $3,000 in Celery credits.


Among the other prototypes devised and created at the PCH Hardware Hackathon were Artifact, which developed a healthcare device that allows patients to provide real-time feedback while in the waiting room and DryPhone, which uses RFID technology in washing machines to detect when a device is accidentally put in the machine and provides a verbal warning to the user.

“ Hackathons accelerate innovation – helping entrepreneurs meet each other, create working prototypes, develop marketing pitches and test product appeal. The pace of development, the scale of ambition and the significant levels of creativity that we witness over just two days, is always outstanding. Hackathons are today’s garages where innovators get their start ”

Liam Casey, Founder and CEO, PCH

The Hackathon also saw pre-launch hardware startups pitch their prototype in ‘five minute pitch-offs’ on Friday evening.

The winning team of these pitch-off sessions was Grobo who created a smart gardening pod that automatically waters plants, has LED grow lights for faster plant growth and an app that allows users to track plant progress in real time and share and connect with other gardeners.

They won a trip for two to Shenzhen, China, known as the global center of hardware manufacturing, where they will meet key players and tour factories.

VP Community Engagement & Hackathons, PCH

Katherine Hague, VP Community Engagement and Hackathons at PCH said,

“We are very excited to have hosted our first Hackathon in Kitchener-Waterloo and to see such creativity and passion for product innovation here. We want to thank all participants for coming out over the weekend, not only the incredible hackathon teams, but also our partners and sponsors, technology providers and industry-leading panelists who supported. We love hosting Hardware Hackathons because we see design, ingenuity, creativity and technology come together very quickly with astonishing results.”

The event also included the first Hardware Startup Job Fair offering hardware enthusiasts an opportunity to meet local startups, network and explore new job opportunities in this thriving space, while providing employers with a chance to scout for upcoming talent.

Employers such as PCH, Ringly, Connected Lab, Upverter and Muse met with participants interested in areas such as engineering, supply chain, marketing, design, retail and product development.

Panel discussions, workshops on design and technology and virtual Q&A also took place throughout the weekend including the following global tech leaders:


The final pitches were judged on criteria including the product’s business case, design, technical viability, innovativeness and overall presentation quality.

  • Judges involved over the course of the weekend included:
  • Zach Supalla, CEO of Particle (formerly Spark)
  • Scott Miller, CEO of Dragon Innovation
  • Chris Tsai, Co-Founder and CEO of Celery
  • Katherine Hague, VP of Community Engagement and Hackathons at PCH
  • Nick Ford, Hardware Engineer at Pebble
  • Jay Shah, Co-Founder of Bufferbox, Acquired by Google
  • Peter Heuss, Associate Director of the Velocity Foundry
  • Scott Greenberg, Developer Relations at Thalmic Labs


As a follow-up to this weekend’s event, PCH has partnered with O’Reilly to send the ICEBox Data Mesh to represent Kitchener-Waterloo at O’Reilly Solid Conference on June 23rd – 24th.

Solid is unique: a mash-up of MIT and ‘Disneyland for the Internet of Things’ that combines deep, intelligent conversations about vital issues like security, business models, and standards; along with discussions with  demos of some of the most innovative devices and technologies that exist—or are imagined—today.

ICEBox Data Mesh’s participation in Solid will include an opportunity for them to exhibit their prototype and present their idea on stage to conference attendees.

Further details on the winning products as well as videos and photography from the event are available at:

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