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Updated: 19 hours 18 min ago

Robots, Wearables, Renewable Energy, Oh My: The Winners of the 2018 Hackaday Prize Announced in Pasadena

Fri, 2018-11-16 05:44

An open source robotic arm that is trainable by the human hand – an ability that is uncommon even in commercial robotics – won first place in the 2018 Hackaday Prize, and was recognized along with the other winners at the recent 2018 Hackaday Superconference in Pasadena.

The nine-month competition of competitive technology innovation that’s also called the Academy Awards of Open Hardware attracted nearly 1,000 entries in five challenges, with 100 making it to the finals.

The robotic arm, Dexter, submitted by Las Vegas-based Haddington Dynamics, was selected as the $50,000 Grand Prize winner among the semifinalists. Haddington Dynamics co-founders Kent Gilson and Todd Enerson received the prize from Hackaday during the Superconference, which took place November 2 to 4 at the Supplyframe Design Lab in Pasadena.

Hackaday gave away over $200,000 in prizes to the winning entries.

The second place winner, with a $20,000 prize, was Hacking Wearables for Mental Health, by New York-based hacker Curt White, who modified the entry from a cheap fitness tracker to develop mental health services for the Child Mind Institute nonprofit.

Third place went to Vijay Varada, based in Bangalore, India, whose entry, Portal Point Generator, received a prize of $15,000. The entry is a 3D printable generator used to harness wind-energy during an Antarctic expedition.

The fourth prize, $10,000, went to David Prutchi for his entry EmotiGlass, a wearable device that uses augmented reality to aid stress and anxiety in the user.

Fifth place was PR-HOlonet, a disaster-area emergency communications system made by survivors of the recent Hurricane Maria to prevent future communication shortages across the world. The entry was submitted by Hadi Esiely.

“There is simply no better activity that challenges the engineering community to channel creativity, passion, and innovation into creating a better and more sustainable future,” David Sandys, Director, Business Ecosystem Development at Digi-Key, said. “Each year the Hackaday Prize entrants raise the bar even further, and it’s simply astounding to us to see how they implement the technology and solutions we provide in new and imaginative ways.”

“No task or problem is too big,” said YouTube sensation Colin Furze, who acted as one of the Hackaday Prize judges. “People are looking at huge things you wouldn’t think you would attempt as a DIY person, and they’ve said, ‘No, I think we can have a crack at this!’”

The other judges in the competition included YouTube creators Mark Rober and Chris Clickspring, technical founders Maddy Maxey, Ayah Bdeir, Sherry Huss, Danielle Applestone, Eben Upton, and Chris Anderson; tech artist Lauren McCarthy; and the brilliant engineers Kwabena Agyeman Kristin Paget, Quinn Dunki, Anool Mahidharia, Kipp Bradford, and Mitch Altman.

For a full description of the entries, visit

World Champion Racer, Formula E Team Principal Allan McNish Joins Board of Pasadena Company

Wed, 2018-11-14 06:43

Allan McNish, Image Courtesy Wikipedia

Motorsport legend and Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler Formula E team principal Allan McNish has joined the Advisory Board of COAST Autonomous, a self-driving vehicle technology company based in Pasadena.

COAST Autonomous announced McNish’s entry into the advisory board in a statement Tuesday. The company said they plan to tap into McNish’s many years of experience of performing at a top level of motorsports and working with OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), along with his team building and organization skills and his ready access to auto industry suppliers and senior executives across the corporate landscape.

“Allan’s motorsports pedigree, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times, the FIA World Endurance Championship, three American Le Mans Series titles and most recently the FIA Formula E Championship as Team Principal, speaks for itself,” Adrian Sussmann, COAST President and Board Member, said. “Success breeds success and Allan knows better than anyone what it takes to win. We are looking forward to his insight and guidance as we build a team to compete for victory at low speed.”

McNish, won the FIA World Endurance Championship in Shanghai, China five years ago, the last time he drove a racing car. This time, he will be driving slow cars!

“Adrian and I have discussed many opportunities over the years, mostly to do with driving racing cars at high speeds and in great danger! Now that I have retired from being a racing driver, the idea of not driving, at low speeds, very safely, is quite appealing,” McNish said. “I am in total agreement with COAST’s thesis, regarding the benefits of low-speed AVs in private sites, city centers and controlled environments. In my world travels, I get to see the problems with traffic and pollution and I do believe that a combination of electrification and enlarged pedestrian city centers with low speed on-demand AVs for mobility, is a solution that can significantly improve urban environments.”

McNish said he looks forward to testing a COAST golf cart and P-1 Shuttle.

“Even if their vehicles go slow, I am excited to help COAST’s business accelerate,” he said.

COAST Autonomous provides self-driving mobility solutions for low-speed environments: campuses, airports, resorts, theme parks and city centers. The company said it plans to deploy its first fleets in 2019.

The statement spokes of a “secret sauce,” which it said is software that is pedestrian friendly combined with a low-cost sensor fusion that does not compromise on performance or safety.

On COAST’s Advisory Board, McNish joins three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Dario Franchitti, Stanford Professor Dr. Marco Pavone and the former Mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida, Rick Baker.

To learn more about COAST Autonomous, visit

Pasadena Digital Agency Named Fastest Growing LA Business

Wed, 2018-11-14 06:36

Image Courtesy of Fox Dealer website

Fox Dealer, a leading automotive digital marketing company based in Pasadena, has been recognized as one of the Fastest Growing Private Companies in 2018 by the Los Angeles Business Journal.

The business publication announced the rankings of the top 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies on Wednesday, November 7, at the Reserve Nightclub in Downtown Los Angeles. The printed publication was released Monday.

“Receiving this accolade as a top growth company in my hometown is a huge recognition of our relentless pursuit to better the Automotive Advertising Industry,” Fox Dealer’s CEO GianCarlo Asong said in a statement. “I attribute our growth to our people; we hire competent, passionate people that really put their heart and soul into their work. Once clients experience that level of concierge service, they’re addicted.”

Fox Dealer was also ranked earlier this year on the Inc. 500 list as one of the fastest growing privately-held companies in the United States. In the list, which compares overall growth for independent companies over a three-year period, Fox Dealer ranked No. 41 with a three-year revenue growth of 6423.9 Percent.

“This is just the start,” Asong continued. “This year, we received our first manufacture website contract with several more pending. We do not believe in resting on our laurels; we have several products in final beta that will be rolling out starting next week, one of which is our new advance new website platform.”

Fox Dealer is a personalized automotive marketing company where powerful digital technology meets white-glove customer service. The company specializes in custom responsive websites, stunning creative design, and cutting-edge digital marketing.

Fox Dealer is a Google Premier partner and the go-to provider for many high-performance dealerships.

For more information about Fox Dealer, visit

New Pasadena Stater Bros. Market Officially Opens Wednesday Morning

Tue, 2018-11-13 05:36

Just in time for the beginning of the holiday season, a new 42,000-square foot Stater Bros. supermarket is scheduled to open its new doors in Pasadena Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. following an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The new operation replaces a former Vons store which operated at the 1390 North Allen Avenue location for 47 years before closing last April.

Immediately following the festivities, the store will officially open for business, and after Wednesday it will be open daily from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

The location will be led by Store Manager Christy Gragg, who has over 28 years of service with the Company.

Gragg has overseen the hiring of close to 100 employees for the new store, according to a company statement.

“We are excited to expand our presence in the San Gabriel Valley,” said Stater Bros. CEO Pete Van Helden.

Stater Bros. said in a statement that the store features an updated store layout in addition to interior upgrades such as new flooring, energy efficient LED lighting, and a décor scheme reflecting Pasadena’s rich history.

The store is the 26th Stater Bros. location in Los Angeles County, the company’s 14th store to serve the San Gabriel Valley, and the first Stater Bros Market in Pasadena.

The market will serve a wide swath of North Pasadena and Altadena.

Local leaders said the new market will be a boon to neighborhoods and the local economy.

“People in the neighborhood seem excited about having Stater Bros open in time for Thanksgiving shopping,” said Councilmember Margaret McAustin. “So many neighborhoods are served by this location at Allen and Washington, I’m sure I’ll see plenty of friends and neighbors shopping there.”

Noting changes in the retail marketplace, McAustin added, “ This is a time when many retailers are closing brick and mortar stores, so to have Stater Bros. make such a significant investment in Pasadena is exciting. No doubt we will see the effects of their investment in our local economy. It’s nice to have a neighborhood store open again.”

Seeing the store as a significant vote of confidence in the local economy, Pasadena Chamber of Commerce CEO Paul Little said, “It’s exciting to have Stater Brothers opening at Allen and Washington for several reasons.”

“I live in the neighborhood,” said Little, “and it would very nice to have a full service grocery store back for the neighbors to take advantage of, but it’s also nice that it’s Stater Brothers, which adds a little bit of variety and a little more competition to the market as well. They’re a well-known and well-run operation. So we’re looking forward to that, and we’re looking forward actually to cutting a ribbon to celebrate their grand opening on Wednesday morning.”

Pasadena-Based Forza Silicon Sold to AMETEK, Inc.

Mon, 2018-11-12 08:04

AMETEK, Inc., a global manufacturer of electronic instruments and electromechanical devices based in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, has acquired Pasadena-based Forza Silicon, which designs and manufactures high-performance imaging sensors used in medical, defense, commercial and industrial applications.

An AMETEK statement last week said the acquisition was valued at about $40 million.

At the same time, AMETEK also acquired Chicago-based Tetular, which provides communication solutions for logistics management, tank monitoring and security applications, for $525 million.

“We are very excited to welcome Telular and Forza to AMETEK, as they are both excellent companies with differentiated technology solutions serving attractive market segments,” David A. Zapico, AMETEK Chairman and CEO, said. “2018 has proven to be a record year on the acquisition front and we remain pleased with our efforts in this area as our teams continue to manage a robust pipeline of additional opportunities.”

Zapico classified AMETEK’s acquisition of Forza Silicon as a “highly strategic technology acquisition” for the company.

“Customers rely on Forza’s leading-edge design capability to support their advanced sensor development projects,” he said. “Forza also provides our Vision Research business with custom sensor design and production capability, allowing for accelerated development of next generation sensor technology for use across our market leading, high-speed cameras.”

Forza Silicon, with headquarters located at 2947 Bradley Street in Pasadena, has annual sales of approximately $20 million. The company was established in 2001 at a time when the CMOS (for “complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor”) imaging industry was in formation.

The company’s co-founders, Barmak Mansoorian and Daniel Van Blerkom, were a critical part of the Photobit team, who, along with Photobit  co-founder Dr. Eric Fossum and many others, pioneered the development of CMOS imaging technology.

Since its foundation, Forza Silicon has become an innovator and industry leader in the field of mixed-signal IC and CMOS imaging designs.

Today, the company employs one of the industry’s largest and most experienced independent CMOS imaging engineering teams. Its innovative products are used across a wide variety of industries – from automotive applications to high-end medical devices, from professional cinematography to next generation broadcast cameras, and networked video surveillance needs to mission-critical visible and near-visible defense applications.

For more information about Forza Silicon, visit

In its statement, AMETEK Inc. said Forza Silicon and Telular join them as part of the company’s Electronic Instruments Group, a leader in advanced analytical, monitoring, testing, calibrating and display instruments with annual sales of $3 billion.

Crack Shack Offers a “Fresher’ Fry

Mon, 2018-11-12 05:40

Everyone loves fried chicken. Let’s start there.

Michael Cohen, one of the owners of Crack Shack, Old Pasadena’s newest eatery, shares that popular affinity. Cohen’s other restaurant, Juniper and Ivy, in San Diego, has always prominently featured chicken as well, he said Friday at a special media preview for the new restaurant.

This Crack Shack is the fifth in Southern California. The others are in Encinitas, San Diego, Costa Mesa, and Century City.

As Cohen told Pasadena Now, “One of the secret little idiosyncracies that I have is that I love chicken.” But as he explained, after he visited a Michelin-rated restaurant in the Tribeca section of New York City a few years back and was served a roasted chicken with foie gras, he was convinced that the everyday dish could easily be something special.

“They convinced me that you can take a humble ingredient like chicken and transform it so magically,” he said.

But, meanwhile, over in the “Better Burger” category, explained Cohen, by way of example,“Things are exploding, because people love burgers, but they know the quality of the product at a lot of fast food restaurants, is generally very poor.”

Thus there was a lot of room for the Slater’s 50/50s of the world.

“But nobody was really doing that with chicken,” he noticed.

“You have all these chicken places, KFC, Bojangles, Popeye’s, and it tastes delicious,” he continued. “But they’re using the worst ingredients. And bad chicken is probably worse than bad steak, and maybe people know they’re getting bad ingredients, but they don’t care, they don’t think about it. If you go to an industrial chicken farm in North Carolina, you won’t want to eat chicken ever again. We thought, if you took the same ingredients as in a fine dining restaurant, some people might not like it as much.”

As curious as that sounds, Crack Shack’s chicken is not the same bird as you will find at most fast food places. It doesn’t come from North Carolina.

As a tag on a tray of their “fresh” additive-free fried chicken explains, “This chicken is fresher than the commercial chicken that you may be familiar with, and it may appear undercooked in spots. (Note: we never saw this). This is because unlike many large-scale chicken producers, (The restaurant) does not inject their chickens with dye, nor do they use additives in the feed to make the meat appear more yellow and golden.”

Indeed the Crack Shack looks slightly different than, say, KFC. The skin is flat, and less puffy, but just a touch spicier. The flavor is vaguely more earthy, (which is not a bad thing), and very juicy and flavorful. What you taste is the chicken, the frying oil, and some secret combination of spices for an interesting tang.

The chicken comes in a playful assortment of stand-alone fried chicken in full or half sizes, and a California-friendly assortment of sliders and sandwiches.

To wit, the California Dip, with pollo asado, schmaltz fries, pickled jalapeño, bolillo bread, posole broth, and avocado; the Coop Deville with fried chicken, pickled Fresno chilies, lime mayo, napa cabbage, brioche; the Malibu Barbie Q, featuring a bbq thigh, cornmeal onion ring, smokey bacon, pineapple mustard, on a potato roll; the Firebird,with a spicy fried thigh, cool ranch dressing, crispy onions, and pickles, on a potato roll.

For the morning people, there is the Señor Croque, with crispy chicken, bacon, fried egg, cheddar, miso-maple butter, on a brioche bun, and The Royale, a chicken sausage, sunny side egg, smoked cheddar combination on an English muffin.
Not in the mood for chicken? It happens. The Crack Shack also features the Sea Señorita—seared rare tuna, pepper rub, mustard seed tartar, romaine lettuce, and pickles, on a whole wheat brioche.

(We won’t mention the Mexican-style Poutine, which no self-respecting Montrealer would ever recognize. It’s good, it’s just not Poutine. I lived in Montreal. I know. )

The Crack Shack is essentially a fun, family-friendly upscale fast food restaurant, so you order at a counter as you walk in, take your number, find yourself a table in the large, rustic farmhouse dining room, , and a server will bring your order to you. You get your own soft drinks from a dispenser, but there is also a full bar in the corner.

The 6,020 square foot location itself was originally designed by Lloyd T. Boers and constructed by Daniel Jones, one of the original designers of the Old Pasadena Historic District. It was the original home of the Pasadena Automobile Radiator and Lamp Repair Company. It later became the Firehouse Recording Studio where such artists as Phil Collins, Chaka Khan, David Lee Roth, Patti LaBelle, Neil Diamond and many more, recorded.

The Crack Shack could be a fun lunch spot for shoppers, a family dinner spot, the place to celebrate your little league victory, or even a first date spot.

Because everybody loves fried chicken.

The Crack Shack, 30 West Green Street, Pasadena, 91101. Open 7 days a week, Sunday – Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday- Saturday from 10:30 a.m. – Midnight.