Digital Open Winners: "Hybrid Airship," by teen robotic blimp builders.

candyhat.jpg Institute for the Future teamed up with Sun Microsystems and Boing Boing Video to co-host the Digital Open, an online tech expo for teens 17 and under around the world.

In today's episode, you'll meet the "Funky Shiitake Mushrooms," a group of young people from a Fremont, CA high school who build robotic blimps. The one you see in this video also doubles as a fashionable hat, as you can see from the photo inset at left (that's me with the headgear).

The blimp in this episode is named "Skittles the Second," after the popular, cartoon-colored candy. They'd made an earlier version of "Skittles," but that one floated away. In fact, it floated all the way to a farm near Yosemite. The farmer found an ID tag on the floataway airship, and phoned a teacher at the high school to advise. The teen makers were eager to road trip out there and pick it up, but only one of them was old enough to drive.

Their energy and inventiveness was inspiring. I hope you enjoy the video as much as we enjoyed making it.

Read more about the youth competition in IFTF's press release announcing Digital Open winners. And you can visit team Funky Shiitake Mushrooms online, here.


  1. Nifty! But as it doesn’t appear to be even partly autonomous, shouldn’t that be “radio controlled blimp” instead of “robotic blimp”?

  2. Autonomous capability was not displayed in the video as we are currently developing said capability with AVR RZRaven and TIMSP430 microcontrollers. I’m one of the FSM team.

  3. Well done. Here’s the sort of science project that is fun and still teaches loads about math, mechanics and working in a team. Thanks to Boing Boing for encouraging the next generation of engineers that will design the cool stuff.

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