Toronto winners of the PCH Hardware Hackathon announced

Enlightli were the winners at PCH’s 2 day Hackathon event at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto. Enlightli developed and prototyped a bicycle helmet with LED lights that uses body heat to generate electricity.

The two-day event, held at the MaRS Discovery District is PCH’s first hardware hackathon in Canada, following successful events in San Francisco, California and Dublin, Ireland in 2014.

Over 100 of Toronto’s makers, collaborators, designers, engineers and entrepreneurs, as well as multiple prototyping equipment providers, came together to hack from concept to final product, and ultimately developed a range of unique hardware solutions with cutting-edge design in just one weekend.

First prize went to Enlightli, which developed and prototyped a helmet with body heat-powered LED lights to help prevent cycling accidents. The team was awarded a $4,000 CAD prize fund for the continuing development of their product, sponsored by PCH.

Enlightli team pictured above celebrating their win.

They also received $4,000 CAD in services from Toronto engineering firm Connected Labs, a free company incorporation by LaBarge Weintsein, a week’s worth of co-working space at DMZ, 5 hours of mentorship time with DMZ experts in residence, a feature in the DMZ blog, a consultation with Herscu & Goldsilver and the opportunities to pitch their products at the Tech in Motion meet-up and the We Are Wearables event.

Second prize was awarded to Alfred, which developed a smart cane attachment to track users’ health and activity data, and notify loved ones if the user falls. The team received a year-long membership for each team member to the Toronto tool library.

Third prize was awarded to Galactic Bot, which developed a device that measures brightness, temperature and composition of stars. The team received a year-long membership for each team member to the Toronto tool library.


“We believe hackathons accelerate innovation – helping entrepreneurs refine their ideas, form teams, make rough prototypes, and develop marketing pitches — all in one weekend. We hope to see some of these teams go on to form companies and ultimately get their products to market.”

Liam Casey, Founder and CEO, PCH

Among the other prototypes developed at the weekend were Thundersteps, a shoe that generates power to charge users’ electronics as they walk, SideKick, a bracelet that transmits wearers’ medical history to their doctors’ or paramedics’ devices, and BigSolve Robotics, a sales assistant robot.

Katherine Hague, Co-Founder of Shoplocket and Leader of the PCH Hardware Hackathon initiative said “We are very excited to have hosted our first Hackathon in Toronto 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 technology providers, sponsors and industry-leading panelists. We love hosting Hardware Hackathons because we see design, ingenuity, creativity and technology come together very quickly for surprising results.”

The PCH Hackathon began with a panel discussion and virtual Q&A with Chris Anderson, 3d Robotics CEO (and former Wired editor).

Christina Mercando, Founder & CEO of Ringly speaking as part of the panel discussion

Participants then pitched ideas to the crowd and attracted attendees to form design and production teams. After the best ideas were voted on, the participants worked together in teams over the weekend, with support from companies, including: UpverterHot Pop FactoryConnected LabMaRSWe Are WearablesMakeWorks, and the Ryerson Digital Media Zone.

The Hackathon concluded with a lively panel discussion looking at the future of hardware development in Toronto and with leading industry figures discussing how they took their companies from initial prototype to market. Panel discussions over the weekend featured key industry leaders, including:

  • Tom Emrich, Founder of We Are Wearables
  • Doug Soltys, Managing Editor of BetaKit
  • Steve Tam, Canadian Lead in Tech and Design for Indiegogo
  • Elena Yunusov, Senior Editor, BetaKit
  • Amanda Cosco, Multimedia Journalist (moderator)
  • Christina Mercando, Founder & CEO Ringly
  • Karl Martin CEO Nymi Inc. (formerly Bionym)
  • Stuart Lombard. Founder & CEO of ecobee,
  • Sohaib Zahid, Co-Founder & CEO of Vanhawks
  • Katherine Hague, Co-Founder of Shoplocket, and Leader of the PCH Hardware Hackathon initiative (moderator).

Further details on the winning products and photography from the event are available here.