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Lockbox for fridge keeps medication and alcohol away from kids, wins hackathon

Technology can keep kids away from X-rated TV channels and internet sites, so why shouldn’t it secure food and drink? Maybe someday it will: A locking refrigerator drawer won the top prize at a GE Appliances-sponsored hackathon.

Other winners among the 30 products submitted last week at FirstBuild’s fourth annual Hack-the-Home competition in Louisville, Kentucky, included a washing machine load sensor and a dishwasher handle that heats up to dry out wet dish towels.

The top $3,000 prize at the 35-hour event went to contestants Josh Weil, Eric Ott, and Alex Vance for “My Fridge Safe,” a locking refrigerator drawer designed to safeguard food, liquor, and/or medications from children or others who shouldn’t be taking them. This smart refrigerator innovation was the trio’s third effort at the contest.

Second place winnings of $2,000 went to a group of engineers and designers from Mexico, Colombia, and the United States for the washing machine load sensing technology, which uses a series of lights to issue warnings when the machine is overloaded.

The group, which called itself Team Borderless, says the technology can help consumers avoid unbalanced loads and conserve water and energy. A group of GE Appliances Edison engineers won the $1,000 third prize for the “Multi-Dry” towel-drying dishwasher handle, so called because it recirculates warm air from inside the machine.

Several hackathon sponsors also awarded prizes to projects that used their technology. For example, GE Appliances gave $500 to a group of Columbus College of Art & Design students for a cooktop concealed in a countertop.

Samtec awarded a sponsor prize to the creators of Toast-e, a warming drawer for clothing that used Samtec’s connectors and cables. A group called Team Fresh won FirstBuild’s community favorite award for a refrigerator with slide-out pantry-style shelves.

FirstBuild is a worldwide GE Appliances-backed community of creators who focus on smart home ideas products. It has offices in Louisville, Shanghai, and Hyderabad, India, and claims 30,000 members online.

Competition judges, in addition to FirstBuild staff and sponsors, included Dr. Emmanuel Collins, Dean of the J.B. Speed School of Engineering; Grace Simrall, Chief of Civic Innovation and Technology at Louisville Metro Government; and Jimmy DiResta, renowned Master Maker.

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