Internet of Things Maker, David Nghiem, Wins the TechCrunch Disrupt NYC 2015 Hackathon

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Hardware hacker walks into TechCrunch Disrupt NYC hackathon, successfully designs, builds, and programs Internet of Things device for his father in under 20 hours, and wins a free trip to San Francisco, beating 109 other teams.

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David Nghiem had a problem with his elderly, disabled father. Every time he drove his father anywhere, his Dad would panic, thinking the stove was still on. “It drove me crazy,” said Nghiem, “because he'd make me turn the car around to go home and check the stove.”

So David came up with a solution to his father's worries: an Internet of Things device that monitors the stove, and tells his father if the stove is on or off through the phone. “I wanted my Dad to be able to check the stove, no matter where he was,” said Nghiem.

David then entered and won the TechCrunch NYC Disrupt 2015 Hackathon by designing and building the device in under 24 hours.

TechCrunch Disrupt is an annual conference hosted by TechCrunch in San Francisco, New York City, and Beijing. It's one of the world's premier stages for technology startups to launch their products and services. Startups compete on stage in front of venture capitalists, media and other interested parties for prize money and publicity.

David competed in the hackathon, which is a 24 hour race where programmers get together, design and implement a product, and then present that product on stage in one minute or less. David designed, built, programmed, and successfully completed the device in 20 hours, and with about an hour of sleep, presented it to a live audience and on-line.

David competed against 109 other teams. He won the Twilio prize, an all-expense paid trip to San Francisco to attend the Signal Conference, because he used the Twilio API to text the phone. Twilio is a cloud communications company based in San Francisco, and its software is used by Walmart and Airbnb. The win is especially noteworthy because TechCrunch's hackathons are usually software centric. David considers himself to be strictly a hardware hacker.

“I wouldn't have gone to the hackathon if it was just software. I can't stand doing just software. Hackaday.com offered me a free ticket and said to come with them to crash the event as a hardware hacker. So I went. And I won,” said Nghiem.

While at the Signal Conference, David won the stage prize during the Signal $Bash Hackathon Carnival. “I took my stove monitor device, and put a lighter to the sensor, which sends a text to your phone indicating that your stove is still on. No one ever saw anyone use fire to send a text before,” said Nghiem.

David is forming a startup company around the technology he developed, and he envisions a home mesh network of low cost sensors and monitors for his father's worries. “My main goal is to get some sanity back for my family,” said Nghiem. “Elderly, disabled people like my Dad are an under served market, and getting peace of mind is priceless.”

You can learn more about David's Internet of Things device at https://hackaday.io/project/4688-an-iot-device-that-tells-dad-the-stove-is-off, where it's also a contestant for the 2015 Hackaday Prize: a trip into space.

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David Nghiem
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