SLIDESHOW

The Defcon Badge: Sleek, Stylish and Hackable

Here's a first look at the Defcon 18 badge, set to be unveiled Thursday at the annual hacker conference in Las Vegas.

Badge of Honor

It's unlike any conference badge you've ever seen before--sleek, stylish, programmable, and made out of metal. It's the Defcon 18 conference badge, set to be unveiled Thursday at the annual hacker conference in Las Vegas. Here's a first look at this year's badge.

Image Credit: Joe Grand

Waiting to Be Hacked

More than a fanzy gizmo, the defcon badge is a powerful computing device, just waiting to be hacked. This is the fifth year that Joe Grand has designed an electronic badge for the event. Pictured here is a coveted black "Uber" badge, reserved for winners of the annual Defcon badge-hacking contest. Its owner gets free Defcon admission for life.

Image Credit: Joe Grand

Magnificent Seven

There are seven different versions of the badge: Uber, human (for attendees), vendor, speaker, contest (organizers), goon (show staff), and press. Each badge costs about $14 to make -- that's a pretty high-flying badge, when you consider that Defcon admission is just $140.

Image Credit:
Joe Grand

Lithographed Aluminum

Instead of the fiberglass boards typically used by most circuit-boards, this year's badges are made of a sleek lithographed aluminum.

Image Credit: Robert McMillan

Low-Power Display

The "piece de resistance," Grand says, is the low-power 128 by 32 pixel blue-and-white display. Built by Ohio's Kent Displays this cholesteric liquid crystal screen retains the image even without power. But you can wipe it out with your finger.

Image Credit: Robert McMillan

USB Port

To make hacking easier, this year's model comes with a USB port. Just plug it into your laptop and start hacking.

Image Credit:
Joe Grand

Grand Atelier

Joe Grand holds a prototype of the badge in his San Francisco workshop, pictured in May.

Image Credit: Robert McMillan

The Lineup

All seven badges set side by side form a conference montage.

Image Credit: Joe Grand

Artistic Inspiration

Neil Kronenberg's original drawing, used for the badge art this year. Kronenberg does the Web site and conference material illustrations for Defcon too.

Image Credit:
Neil Kronenberg