fb-pixel Skip to main content
From the Hive

This ring guarantees easy access to the MBTA

Sesame Ring works like a CharlieCard for easy access to the MBTA.RING THEORY

Highlights from boston.com/hive, Boston’s source for innovation news.

Sick of fishing through your purse or flashing your wallet every time you ride the MBTA? A Kickstarter project, Sesame Ring, is offering stylish RFID rings that you can simply tap against CharlieCard readers as you sail through the crowds.

“Having missed the train many times while fishing for our CharlieCards, we looked for a solution in wearable technology. After months of hard work, we created the 3D-printed Sesame Ring, supported by the MBTA,” the project page states. “Now, you can walk right up to the gantry, use scientifically approved magic, and scoot on through!”


The Sesame Ring project relies on fairly standard technology, packaged in a slightly different format and shrunk down to be wearable. The Sesame Ring creators, undergraduates at MIT and the Singapore University of Technology and Design, said they launched a 300-ring “beta” as welcome gifts for the Singapore university’s freshmen in May and have been working on improvements since.

“We’ve also developed a sleeker design and a more effective assembly method that would make sense for mass production,” Edward Tiong, one of the project’s creators, wrote in an e-mail. “3D printing allows us to customize ring faces.”

He said the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has been helpful.

“MBTA thought that it would be a ‘fun idea’ to work on, and were very supportive in us exploring it from the start,” Tiong noted. “Their openness to innovation is what transforms small ideas like ours into products that reach the hands of many.”

The team hopes its stylish technology will find other interested customers. It sees possibilities for corporate security, for example, or access control at dorm entrances. — MICHAEL MORISY

Building a better beer tap

Every time the operations department at GSN Digital in Waltham submitted an annual budget, they included two items they knew probably would not be approved: a Bugatti Veyron supercar ($2.25 million) and an Arkeg Drink n’ Game ($4,000). The first was definitely a joke. The second, a combination arcade game and kegerator, was a little more within the realm of possibility.


But Drink n’ Game never survived the budget process at GSN Digital, a game development studio owned by the Game Show Network. So last month, when GSN Digital held a hackathon for its employees, vice president of engineering Caesar Naples decided it was time to do something about it.

The three-day employee hackathon took place in late July; it’s a once-a-quarter event when pretty much everything else is put on pause unless it is related to keeping existing games running.

“It’s a chance,” Naples explains, “to tap people’s creativity and let them work on things that they might not be able to work on in their regular jobs. The overall guidelines are that you can do anything that ties back into the business, even vaguely.”

Like a kegerator-arcade game hybrid.

Naples volunteered the driveway of his home as an assembly area for what they dubbed the Kegatron. They bought plywood for the cabinet, a mini-fridge, game controllers, and keg hardware. Naples says the components cost about $700. Despite temperatures in the 90s, the team kept building.

Not every hackathon is as recreationally oriented as the Kegatron. Others have involved deploying animated characters as guides to GSN Digital’s careers page, for example.

But the Kegatron has turned into a nice example within GSN Digital of applying a small team’s creativity to create something cool, instead of buying it. It occupies an office of its own and often attracts a crowd.


The first beer from the Kegatron? Jack’s Abbey Hoponius Union, from a brewery. — SCOTT KIRSNER

Quincy College opens a biolab

Quincy College has unveiled a new laboratory in Saville Hall, which city officials hope will help bring more life sciences activity to the City of Presidents.

The facility will be the main laboratory and educational space for the Biotechnology and Compliance associate degree program and certificate program at Quincy College.

The funding included a $100,000 grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, a state-funded agency tasked with implementing the state’s 10-year, $1 billion Life Sciences Initiative.

“Our innovation economy relies on a well-educated, well-skilled workforce, and Quincy College’s new Biotechnology & Compliance Laboratory will expand opportunity and grow jobs in communities throughout the Commonwealth,” Governor Deval Patrick said in a statement. — CHRIS REIDY