Alphalab Gear, a business incubator for hardware startups, just had it’s annual #HardwareCup. They look for ideas that can change the world. The winner has of chance of getting $50,000 investment for their idea. Six Pittsburgh companies pitched their startup technologies to a panel of experts for a chance at $1,000 and entry at the National Hardware Cup.

Here’s how the companies that pitched can change your world:

1PalpAid – Phone Accessory that Detects Breast Cancer

Imagine the fear of discovering a lump in your breasts. PalpAid is designed to give you and the primary care physician an idea of what’s going on. The phone accessory scans for more accurate information. The at home device compliments traditional screening to track benign breast masses.

Molly Blank is the founder of PalpAid and also winning presenter for Alphalab’s Hardware Cup Pittsburgh. Armed with a doctorate of Bio-medical Engineering from CMU, she’s focused on medical products that reduce anxiety by putting better information in the hands of the patient.

2Hyliion – Electric Retrofit for Tractor Trailers

Hyliion is a electric modification to tractor trailers that make them more like the Toyota Prius. This is accomplished by changing the suspension. Overall, it boasts savings of 31% of fuel costs. This is accomplished by regenerative braking or storing kinetic energy otherwise lost in slowing down. They won second place at the Pittsburgh Hardware Cup. Don’t feel too bad for them, Hyliion won the U.S. Department of Energy Clean Tech Prize earlier in 2015.

How does this affect you? How do you think Amazon Prime packages get to you? 😉

3Broken Colors – Eye Tracking for Mobile Devices

Broken Colors is a eye tracking for mobile devices. Most of this is done via software. It’s also ten times cheaper. Why is this important? Mobile traffic overtook desktop traffic last year.  Yet many websites aren’t mobile optimized. Broken Colors will allow developers to make apps and websites suck less. Imagine a less frustrating experience coming to your phone. It won’t be perfect, but it will be a hell of a lot better soon.

4Kerfcase – On Demand 3D Fabricated iPhone Cases

Kerfcases are iPhone cases made using multiaxis milling, 3D printing, and lasers, oh my. The new fabrication techniques allow for some cool things that weren’t possible before. They can use local suppliers, be environmentally friend, and be made to order. Ever wonder if you can have an industrial case that’s stylish for your iPhone? Now you can.

5Velocity Robotics – E-Measurements for Contractors

Remember the last time you did renovations to your home? Why is it the new sink never fits? Velocity Robotics wants to make it so you can measure and forget. They plan to release a mobile app to measure once and store the dimensions you need. This could save you headaches and contractors hours of valuable time. Not to mention getting the new kitchen sink to fit the first time.

6BuzzBands – Wristbands that Detect Alcohol Consumption

BuzzBands are wrist bands that detect if you’ve been drinking. If you’re an adult, not a big deal. If you have a kid (or are a kid) in high school, this is a big deal. Buzzbands will allow secondary schools to enforce no-tolerance policies at extracurricular activities. There will be no more guest work for administrators. The value add? Safer events and lower insurance costs for school functions.

Want to see more?
Pitch at a Different City or Register to Watch the National Finals


Techshop Pittsburgh hosted the first stop on the Hardware Cup tour. We’ve covered several there events over the years. It’s a place worth checking out if you’re new to making things. The tour will continue to Washington DC, Ann Arbor, Boston, NYC, San Jose, Boston, Los Angles, Chicago, and Austin. Alphalab Gear are still looking for people to pitch.

#AdFree: This article is ad free. No monies were exchanged. The respective companies had no editorial control. tl;dr: Ethics, yo.