When artists met engineers - Garage48 Arts & Hardware 2019

For the 9th time in 6 years the legendary Garage48 hackathon  connecting hardware and arts took place in Tartu, Estonia. But it was for the first time that the name Hardware & Arts was turned around to focuse more on the arts. We added another layer onto the foundation of 5 years of connecting designers and engineers, by opening the “creative” participant category to welcome writers, musicians, painters and all creative industries people on board. Everyone was curious as to how this mix would work out.


For this event Garage48 famously teamed up with our distinguished partners: University of Tartu, Estonian Academy of Arts and Estonian National Defence College. In order to get the creative side more going the Tartu Centre for Creative Industries also jumped on  board with sponsorhsip, organizing and mentors. Our wonderful design partner since the beginning of Hardware & Arts, MadeBy, created the quirky mascot cat Arthur who held the hacking and artsy vibe throughout the weekend. The hackathon was funded by European Regional Development Fund, Cultural Endowment of Estonia and the Tartu city.

We are also extending our very special thanks to another legendary partner since we began - Mass Portal - for joining us from Riga, Latvia with their 3D printers and operating team. We couldn’t have done the weekend without a lazer cutter from Eccom and Degritter and SPARK Makerlab team operating it. Of course we cannot forget the sponsors who provided the exciting prizes and mentorship: Fractory.co, Buildit Accelerator, Farnell element14, k-space.ee, Hedgehog OÜ, TechChill 2019 and Latitude59 2019. We are very grateful to our accommodation partner Hektor Design Hostels and our transportation partner Hansabuss. No weekend of hacking would work without fuel and for that we were treated so well by Maitseelamused Catering and Cafe, Haage vesi and Burn energy drinks! Huge thanks to all of you!!!


Arts & Hardware would not have happened without the mentors who lent their knowledge and expertise. The technical mentors: Indrek Rebane from Hedgehog OÜ, Martin Vares from Fractory.co, Aleksander Tõnnisson from Buildit Accelerator and Arsenijs Pičugins from Make Riga Hackerspace; the software mentors: Priit Salumaa from Mooncascade, Kristaps Grinbergs from Qminder and Toomas Välja from Fortumo; UX/UI and product design were taken care of by our product design mentors: Laura Leon from Mobi Lab, Tiina Pärtel and Mikk Olli from Estonian Academy of Arts; we had very experienced creative mentors: Sirla from SprayPrinter, Kairi Lentsius from Lentsius Design and Maido Parv from Microsoft; the business side of being creative was mentored by: Juta Kuhlberg and Reigo Kuivjõgi from Tartu Centre for Creative Industries and Marelle Ellen from sTARTUp Day; all the product building mentoring was also done by the guys from Mass Portal: Krišs Bērzkalns, Egīls Arājs and Aivars Vaivods; and the lazer cutting biz by Kalver Sild from Degritter and Gregor Randla from SPARK Makerlab.

And of course, cheers to the organizing team: main organizer Kadri Kõivik from Contriber; Indrek Rebane from Hedgehog OÜ; our moderator Priit Salumaa from Mooncascade; Alvo Aabloo and Piia Pähklamäe from University of Tartu; Merike Liiva from Estonian Academy of Arts; Maiken Austin from MOODesign; Karin Sepp from Tartu Centre for Creative Industries; our fantastic volunteers Saskia Jõers and Sanita Lasmane and the photographer Maido Parv from Microsoft!

Placing the focus on the creativity gave the artists a chance to dictate the rules of the game. However: hardware and functionality will always be in the forefront of Garage48 hackathons - trying to come up with better solutions to the myriad of issues we may face in life. Indrek Rebane, co-organizer and head of the technical mentors, said: “It is a pleasure to see engineers appreciating a wider view on life - it is not enough to get something to work. The meaning, use and appearance of what is being built are also important nowadays. I dare say that the biggest plus for the engineers involved has been the addition of new viewpoints.”

From the 22 ideas initially presented, 11 that gathered the most support were built into real working prototypes with the help of different mentors and the organizing team. Main focus of the hackathon was placed on creativity. Here are our creative winners.


OVERALL WINNER: Vendo
 vending machine for gravesite candles, that runs on solar energy. 


According to Ants-Hindrek Tiido and Lauri Mei from the team, the most difficult part of the whole weekend was to transport the heavy vending machine to the final’s stage. Farnell element14, a world-renowned electronics supplier presented the main prize of Latitude59 2019 tickets and will help the team develop the vending machine even further.


1st runner-up: Kids vs Internet


The team with the idea of Cyber Command recruits who arrived at the event through Estonian National Defence College, a long time partner of Garage48 hackathons, worked on an installation to teach middle school-aged children about cyber-safety. The project will be developed further in order to become a part of the school curriculum. They will get a 3-month's membership at the k-space.ee hackerspace in Tallinn, tickets to sTARTUp UX conference in Tartu and TechChill 2019 in Riga.


2nd runner-up: Waste Wizard


The most economically minded team who dealt with building a machine that would do all the trash sorting for you, thus hopefully making recycling easier and perhaps even profitable in the future. They won tickets to Tallinn Music Week and a pass to the final interview into the Buildit Accelerator spring batch.


Fractory.co and Hedgehog special prizes: Dream Your Tartu


Team of Vahur Afanasjev, the Tartu city writer, wrote over 20 short stories, legends and poems describing different places in Tartu and an interactive installation was then added to the stories. Read about their plans with the 100kg of steel they won (in Estonian) here. They will also be going to the Hedgehog extreme winter hike in spring and to Estonian Fashion Festival.


Most artsy project: Steampunk Galaxy


An art installation that used face and color recognition in order to entice a magical color wheel to dance with you. They are planning to use a bigger version of it at a larger music festival. This Latvian team went home with a case of Tartu 2019 city wine.


Tartu Centre for Creative Industries and SPARK Makerlab special prize: SMUG

A mug that would recognize its owner was rewarded by The Tartu Centre for Creative Industries and Makerlab. If handled by someone else the mug gave a slight electrical shock, thus making it unpleasant to drink someone else’s coffee. They will receive a 6-12 months incubation in Tartu Centre for Creative Industries and a one month membership a SPARK Makerlab. Read more about their project here.


And the other prototypes that were built over the last weekend:

Poltergeist of Physicum. A project dedicated to Physicum where Garage48 Arts & Hardware 2019 took place, provided endless amusement by filling the building with howls and screams during the entire weekend. 

Leggo. A slightly more practical project, built a truly spectacular kickstand for a bike that would protect you in the city traffic.

Cogni dealt with a niche market of ComiCon visitors. It was a platform for wannabe superheroes who could prepare for the famous festival by learning to interact like their favorite characters, with possible upgrades to personal trainers and full support to looking and acting like the superhero of their choice.

Orgasmeter, a visiting team from Ukraine, was building a fitness tracker that focused on measuring orgasms. A stylish choker was fitted with several sensors that measured everything from heart rate to tone of voice to determine whether or not an orgasm was faked.

Photodeal had a very practical approach and was building an online platform that would allow photographers and future customers find each other in the easiest way possible. Anyone who has ever had to hunt down a perfect event photographer understands the usefulness of this project.


Check out all the teams from the Favourite of the Audience album and see all the photos of the weekend in our main album. All taken by the awesome Maido Parv.

But when attending a Garage48 hackathon, let us all remember that WE ARE ALL WINNERS - the participants, mentors, partners & supporters and organizers - for taking the time to develop our skills, make new contacts and meet great people and get new experiences! THANK YOU!!!

The weekend was truly fantastic! Full of hard work and long hours, problem-solving and networking but at the end of it the artists admitted that they gained a new appreciation from working with the engineers - “The creative and engineering disciplines are actually not that different,” spoke the Tartu city writer Vahur Afanasjev: “ You cannot work in software development or physics without having a creative side.”