Future Tense Initiative Announces Winners of Green Electronics Challenge

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WASHINGTON, DC — The Future Tense initiative – a partnership of New America, Arizona State University, and Slate magazine – is pleased to announce the winners of Green Electronics: A U.S.-China Maker Challenge, which invited makers to think about reuse and environmental protection. Makers were asked to address the problem of electronic waste (e-waste) by creating something new out of old electronics that would otherwise be thrown away.

A collaboration between Future Tense, Beijing’s Tsinghua University and other partners in the U.S. and China, the competition was hosted on Instructables.com and divided into Chinese-language and English-language categories. Entries were judged by a panel of experts, including: former Wired editor Chris Anderson, MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito, Tsinghua University's Sun Hongbin, and Seeed Studio’s Eric Pan. 

"Today’s makers are not working alone in their garages. People share their inventions on the Internet. It is a global, networked, phenomenon,” said Emily Parker, senior fellow and digital diplomacy advisor at New America, who spearheaded the project. "Partners in the U.S. and China asked the online maker community to redefine the concept of waste. Yesterday’s electronics can become tomorrow’s inventions.”

In the Chinese-language category, the grand-prize winner was a low-cost, atomic-force microscope, constructed in part from watch and DVD-player components, that costs less than $1,000 to make. The judges’ prize in the Chinese-language category was a laser-engraving machine made almost entirely from waste materials like discarded printers and CD drives. First-prize Chinese-language winners used discarded electronic components to create a magnetic stirring machine, an eight-device charger, a rechargeable wireless mouse, an urban mushroom farm, and a small, air-conditioned room for pets.

In the English-language category, the grand prize went to a giant touchscreen tablet (or a Cintiq) made from a Dell 21-inch monitor and a Wacom Intuos3 XL. The judges’ prize winner demonstrated how to repurpose an old Wi-Fi router to do tasks like watering a garden, reading a sensor, or lighting LEDs. A first-prize winner described how to etch a circuit board by using

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