After weeks of voting, we've finally narrowed the field in our first-ever Gadget Freak contest to six. Actually, we’re really down to four, since one of our Gadget Freak contributors, Andrew Morris, won a whopping three semi-final rounds.
The winner of the final round will become the Gadget Freak of the Year and will win an all-expense-paid trip to the Pacific Design and Manufacturing show in Anaheim, Calif. in February to show off the winning gadget at the Design News booth.
Allied Electronics is the longtime sponsor of Gadget Freak. “We consider it a huge privilege to support a competition like Gadget Freak and are always blown away by the innovation that comes out of it,” Gabriel Reichman, Allied’s customer marketing manager, told Design News. “All six of the finalists this year are worthy of the title, and I sincerely hope the experience they’ve had proves to be a catalyst for this and future endeavors.”
Reichman also noted that Allied hopes Gadget Freak will be an inspiration to the engineering community. “It’s inspiring to imagine the influence something like this may have in helping a great mind make the journey from an idea to tomorrow’s breakthrough technology,” he told us.
Meet the Finalists
Morris won three of the six semi-final competitions. He won the first round with
A Gadget's Call for Assistance. This gadget was designed to help a specific person. “I created this gadget because a woman had been referred to me who had specifically asked for such a device to help her paralyzed husband call for help,” Morris told Design News.
He won the fourth round with the Inexpensive Dimmable LED Desk Lamp. Morris decided to create the gadget because he wanted to see what kind of performance he would get out of an LED lamp. “I designed a current regulator circuit for the LEDs that is simple, energy-efficient, and dimmable,” he told us. “The result worked so well that I thought others might like to build one, since none are dimmable as far as I know. The dimming feature saves energy and greatly enhances the lamp’s utility.”
Morris won the fifth round of voting with his Speed Regulator for Rotary Tool. He designed a tool that regulated speed and figured other users could benefit. “When using my rotary tool with an analog speed regulator that I had designed many years ago, I thought that such a useful gadget may be of interest to others,” Morris told us. “The analog circuit was complex to build, but I thought of a digital solution that I invented for a previous employer that was far simpler to build. As the invention had fallen into the public domain, I thought it that would make a nice Gadget Freak project.”
Hartman won the second round of competition with his Gloved Hand Controls Airplane's Flight, which he built with his team of fellow engineering students. “The gadget was built as part of a mechatronics class project at Colorado State University,” Hartman told Design News. “RC airplane controls can be confusing for first-time fliers, so we created a controller that fits on the pilot's hand so the pilot can visualize and control the airplane's movements intuitively. Every function of the plane is mapped to a finger or joint so that the pilot can visualize the airplane during every step.”
Rasanen won the final round of voting for his gadget that was designed for Moving the Keyboard Onto Your Fingers. He built the gadget to overcome the limitation of the traditional keyboard. “I heard QWERTY was designed to be slow so the keyboard wouldn't jam and thought, that's mad!” Rasanen told Design News. “We no longer have hammers striking paper, and we need something more compact for modern mobile technology. I discovered a simple way that 10 fingers using just thumbs to shift the other fingers can produce 26 letters, and thought this could also improve access for the disabled.”
Nauman is in the finals for his gadget that provides an Ignition Control Unit for the Harley Davidson Panhead Engine.
So choose from the six gadgets presented this week. And come to Anaheim to meet the winner this February.
Here are some of our more recent Gadget Freaks: