A Defcon badge unlike anything you have ever seen

It's sleek, stylish, programmable, and made out of metal

  • It's unlike any conference badge you've seen before. Sleek, stylish, programmable, and made out of metal. It's the Defcon 18 conference badge. Unveiled at the annual hacker conference in Las Vegas, here's a first look at this year's badge.

  • More than a fanzy gizmo, the defcon badge is a powerful computing device, just waiting to be hacked. This is the fifth year that Grand has designed an electronic badge for the event. It's a labor of love that takes him months to complete. Grand says he wants to make something that's powerful and exciting to hack. 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.

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

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

  • 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.

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

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

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

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

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