‘Musical Raspberry Pi’ wins young tech competition

A gadget that allows people to make their own music by stacking buttons on a mat has won an award for the best invention by an under-25 entrepreneur.

The technology, called Dots, was invented by 24-year old Michael Tougher. It’s aim is to enable children to make music without having to learn how to play traditional instruments. Each of the stackable buttons acts as a note. By combining multiple buttons, the user can create chords and also switch between different sounds. 

The Launchpad competition, run by the Royal Academy of Engineering, awards a cash prize worth £15,000 as well as business mentoring for the winner and up to two runner-ups. 

Tougher envisions that the technology could be connected to an iPad in future to enable children to upload their songs online. 

“It’s a great privilege to win this award,” Tougher said. “The prize money, access to angel investors, and the mentoring will enable me to improve manufacturing and marketing and build my team. I came from a musical background and my ultimate vision is to build a global musical education company to empower people of all ages and abilities to create music.” 

In addition to the main prize, the JC Gammon Award, a people’s choice prize has been awarded to 25-year old Marc de Voc for his Bar Analytics – a connected bar taps technology that makes it possible to centrally monitor cleanliness of the lines, as well as temperature and sales of beer across global bar chains in real time. De Vos will also receive mentoring from the academy’s experts. 

“The UK is a nation of original thinkers, innovators and inventors – and none more so than in our engineering sector,” said David Gammon, CEO of Rockspring and a benefactor of the JC Gammon Award. “Whereas those with more experience have usually built networks and connections to help them along their entrepreneurial journey, the young are often disadvantaged in this respect. In creating the Launchpad Competition, the Royal Academy of Engineering has established a platform for finding young ambitious entrepreneurs and supporting them with the know-how, contacts, networks and encouragement needed to succeed.” 

The other finalist of the Launchpad Competition was Nick Schweitzer, who is helping a major UK broadcaster turn its vast historic documentary video archives into an immersive learning environment.     

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