Limor Fried (Adafruit)
Limor Fried is a rare breed -- a successful, maybe even prolific, female electrical engineer. Her biography on her site, LadyAda (Fried’s hacker handle after Ada Lovelace, the first programmer), modestly proclaims that she “creates things, some of which are beautiful and interesting.” What she is capable of, however, is what puts her on this list: her ability to hack into consumer electronics. Among her most successful projects are the “Minty Boost,” which is a battery pack for the iPhone that fits in an Altoids tin (hence the name), and a cell phone jammer, which she invented to block phone signals around her that were causing interference, but ultimately turned out to be illegal. But her greatest achievement was motivating the crack of the Kinect by offering, through her company Adafruit, a cash prize for the first person to create an open-source driver for Microsoft’s powerful gaming peripheral. Rather than sue (which they originally threatened to do), Microsoft instead embraced Kinect hacking, opening up its policy. Now, that’s power.