Image Source: Drink Sink Challenge blog post by OnShape.

FirstBuild, the idea incubator and microfactory from GE Appliances, and the company behind the popular Opal Nugget Ice Maker, is hoping to crowdsource a drink machine that could go directly in your sink. The company is teaming up with cloud-based CAD software company OnShape in what they are calling the Drink Sink Challenge, a contest where makers will submit their CAD-based concepts to a panel of judges and the top three winners will be awarded cash prizes.

The contest follows a recent hackathon by FirstBuild in which the winner was a group that proposed the idea of integrating a drink dispenser directly into a sink. From the contest starter kit:

Last month, GE Appliances’ FirstBuild hosted a hackathon where the winning team developed an idea for a drink dispenser combined with a kitchen sink. With the growth of pod-based beverage centers for both coffee and cold beverages, this totally makes sense: Users are looking for more streamlined experiences, especially when precious kitchen countertop space is at stake.

The thing is, this does totally make sense. The great unspoken problem in the digital kitchen revolution is a lack of counter space for all these cool new products, so I really like the idea of building more stuff into the actual counters. And besides, who wouldn’t want a next-gen drink machine built into the sink the dispenses hot, cold and fizzy drinks?

According to the contest rules, any design must dispense one or more of the following:

• Ice
• Hot water served at 170° F or higher
• Single-serving coffee using a Keurig or
similar beverage pod
• Chilled water served at 40° F or lower
• Chilled carbonated water
• Chilled flavored beverages

Making things even more interesting is the contest is cosponsored by Lowe’s and Delta Faucet.  While early FirstBuild products like the Opal Ice Maker and the Paragon have been innovative, they’ve yet to really become mass market products. I’m intrigued to see if whether working with a large retailer and faucet company in these types of competitions could ultimately lead to productization of some cool ideas that reach wider audiences.

Another interesting angle to the competition is it looks like it’s one of the first big competitions for the new Giddy platform from GE Appliances and the folks that created FirstBuild. The platform is primarily an app that enables designers and creators to enter contests that range from ones with cash prizes (like the Drink Sink) to smaller ones like the Napkin Sketch Challenge for reimagining the future of the spice rack. This paper napkin sketch concept is really cool since folks are actually turning in what looks like sketches on napkins. One of my favorites is this Spice Jar Table RFID Reader.

An RFID Spice rack. Source: Giddy creator AaronMcD.

Giddy is somewhat reminiscent of Quirky, the crowdsourced creation company that was closely tied to FirstBuild in its early days.  Quirky, which just debuted a new version of itself under its new owners, had raised $30 million from GE in 2013 to design and build connected home products. Quirky was founded by Ben Kaufman. In a sign that old collaborations never die but are just reinvented, Kaufman’s Buzzfeed Labs teamed up with FirstBuild this summer to help build the Tasty One Top.

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