Imagine an object – everything about it from A to Z – and then go to China to see it being manufactured. That’s the challenge that 15 students took on for a semester as part of the first-ever China Hardware Innovation Camp (CHIC), which was organized by EPFL’s College of Humanities together with Swissnex China.
CHIC participants worked on interdisciplinary teams made up of students from EPFL, ECAL and HEC Lausanne. “The goal,” said Marc Laperrouza, head of the program, “was to encourage learning through experimentation, from the core idea in Switzerland through to completion of the project in China where the students spent 12 days this past summer.”
A smart baby bottle
The three prototypes that came out of CHIC have just been unveiled. Clearly the most surprising one, looking like a polished product, was Fimi, the smart baby bottle. It has a base equipped with sensors to measure the milk’s temperature and provide statistics on the baby’s consumption. Bullseye, it would seem: “We hadn’t expected to end up with a marketable result, but we are already in talks with financial partners to see where we can go with this,” said Florian Maushart, an EPFL student and co-designer of this futuristic baby bottle.
Another project is Dory, a water analysis kit dressed up as a game console. It is meant to make science fun, encouraging children to find the coldest spot in a stream, for example. Then there is Vesta, a clever prototype designed to put older people back in touch with the younger generation by virtue of a simplified tablet. It’s like a device for virtual postcards: with one click it can receive photos and messages sent by a smartphone.
In view of the success of this year’s inaugural event, the CHIC organizers want to encourage students interested in joining the 2015-2016 group to develop their ideas without using open-source hardware and software, so that their inventions can be patent-protected.
Registration for the 2015-2016 China Hardware Innovation Camp is open until 10 October. Pre-selection will take place the weekend 17 -18 October 2015. For more information and to sign up: www.chi.camp.