Resurrect the dead: The MB conductive ink hack

Last weekend we hosted our inaugural Hack day. Partnering with Bare Conductive, we invited illustration, coding, industrial design, animation and graphic design experts to get messy with Bare’s conductive paint and their brand new piece of kit, the Touch Board. The Hack day marked one of the first times the prototype was made available to people outside of Bare’s own team, as it is still in the midst of a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign.

So why host a hack day? We had worked with conductive ink for our 2012 Joule project, and, alongside friends at Dundee University, who had also been working with the medium, were keen to test its potential. As regular attendees of other Hack events, we knew the huge benefits of bringing diverse skill sets, ways of working and points of view together. And with access to the incredibly user-friendly Touch Board, we were able to structure a workshop suitable for all creatives, to build prototypes that fused the best of physical and digital design thinking.

The teams were given an induction into the basics of using the Touch Board and were briefed:

Resurrect the dead
Conductive ink has been touted as a potential saviour for the stagnating print industry, due to its ability to add a layer of interactivity to static objects. Although conductive ink might have arrived in time to save print from extinction, are there other industries or businesses that conductive ink might have saved?

Your brief is to resurrect a fallen business or industry through the powers of conductive ink

Tim Brooke, Moving Brands creative technologist, sent the teams off with some final Amazing Race-style words of wisdom: “My top tip is choose one idea, and go for it. Either crash and burn spectacularly, or rise and soar spectacularly….You have four hours. Go.”


Fuelled by coffee, croissants and candy, the teams attacked their goodie boxes, full of motors, soldering kits and resistors, paint brushes, card and Makedo kits. The buzz was palpable, as the creative talents of local studios such as Berg, Method, Imagination and UsTwo hacked alongside each other.

The day resulted in seven brilliant, mostly working prototypes, including; a cardboard record player, a safe that opens with a secret gesture, a music roller, a remote control robot game, interactive snakes and ladders with sound effects and a symphony of food preparation.

Matt from Bare Conductive thanked the hackers: “We loved seeing everyone get their hands on the Touch Board, taking it to places that we never expected. We got tons of useful feedback on the board which will certainly influence its final form. Each team seemed to lay a great foundation for work beyond the hackday as well…”

Huge thanks to Bare Conductive and to everyone that attended and made the day such a brilliant success.

See more pics of the event on Flikr
See a blogpost from the point of view of one of the participants here.
Check out more thoughts and pics on twitter at #MBinkhack