What drives major Israeli startups and companies like Magic Leap and monday.com to sponsor and send staff members for a whole weekend of building completely useless inventions?

It’s an exercise in sheer fun, teamwork and thinking outside the box.

The Geekcon 2018 Israeli makers movement mega-event, held recently over three days in seaside Sdot Yam, attracted over 200 entrepreneurs, developers and makers, amateurs and high-tech executives competing for the coveted title of “least useful project.”

This useless invention constructed at Geekcon 2018 was dubbed "Omega OMG." Photo by Ilan Levy
This useless invention constructed at Geekcon 2018 was dubbed “Omega OMG.” Photo by Ilan Levy

They built things like a Mentos and Coke rifle, a dancing spider robot, a Wi-Fi point-finding telescope, a hot-dog cannon, a whiskey distillery that mines digital coins, an instrument that identifies artificial clouds using artificial intelligence, and “Miss Geekcon 2018” – a robot that gives sarcastic comments to participants.

A musical spider bot was one of the inventions made at Geekcon 2018. Photo by Ilan Levy
A musical spider bot was one of the inventions made at Geekcon 2018. Photo by Ilan Levy

Although the official goal of the event is to build useless inventions, organizers estimate that past activities have resulted in more than $180 million in business activity and that there have been quite a few products, technologies and technological solutions with commercial applications.

This “Dancing Tornado” built at Geekcon 2018 has no apparent purpose. Photo by Ilan Levy

“Technological innovation in high-tech and in the Israeli industry is an inseparable part of the entire ecosystem. People cannot be expected to invent, innovate and think outside the box if they do not have strong communities that make it happen,” said Geekcon initiators Adan Shochat, Gili Cegla, Inbar Raz, Shahar Zrihan, Eyal Hershko, Boaz Mamu, Tzach Moshe, Kfir Matza and Matan Sherf.

Loyal members of this community include Magic Leap CEO Tamir Berliner and monday.com CEO Roy Mann. Those companies also sponsored the event along with others including Samsung NEXT and HEREmobility.