Spring 2018 Student Hackathon Recap

hackNY returned to NYU on April 7th and 8th for our 17th Student Hackathon! A group of over 200 dedicated students produced some of the best hacks we’ve ever seen. We noticed an extra focus on social good this season, with hacks to protect schools from guns, make online communities safer, bring education to those without resources, and help the world be more accessible to those with disabilities. For a couple of the winning teams, their members came solo and found their new teams and friends at the hackathon. That’s what we love to see!

The Spring 2016 hackers represented over 70 universities, with students coming from as far away as Chicago and Florida to work on projects. Check out all 36 awesome hacks on Devpost!

Hackers learned about APIs and Blockchain technology in workshops taught by hackNY Fellows Sam Agnew of Twilio and Calvin Chan of Airswap.io, and laughed at the improvisational skills of Slideshow Karaoke participants, put on by MLH. Meals and snacks were plentiful throughout the weekend, with hackers enjoying italian, thai, Kings Kolaches, Veselka and Insomnia Cookies, among others.

Our traditional Ladies Storm Hackathons meetup was as fulfilling as always, with women gathering to relax and share their experiences. They discovered many similarities, like the struggle to find mentors, interest in studying abroad, and ideas about integrating interdisciplinary skills into their technology careers. They discussed some of the most difficult issues facing women in the world of technology. At the end, the LSH hackers left with a sense of solidarity, new friends and mentors, and (of course) cupcakes!

After a series of impressive demos, a panel of experts judged the hacks and determined our amazing winners.

First Place: Myo Piano
These hackers used a Myo armband and machine learning to allow users to play a virtual piano. This was their first experience with iOS development, and we were tremendously impressed with their learning in just 24 hours!

 

Second Place: DigiCane
This team took an important goal for the world – equal accessibility to navigation in Google Maps – and interviewed real users to determine how to help them best. They created an Android app that combines navigation with obstacle detection, alerting users with voice alerts and vibrations.

 

Third Place: Vizy
Recognizing that the visa interview process can be confusing and stressful, these hackers created a virtual interview system that guides users through practice interviews and gives them useful feedback based on an extensive dataset. Unfortunately, they had to leave early from the ceremony and we couldn’t get their photo.

 

Best First Hack: TxtEd
After noticing that students at impoverished schools in South Africa had access to phones, but not textbooks, this team made their very first hack about bringing education to everyone. They created a system to provide educational material and quiz students through only text messages, allowing teachers and parents to track students’ progress and adapt material as students learn.

 

Best Social Good Hack: SafeDetect
This team used Clarifai’s image detection API to identify guns in images, and Twilio’s API to text people in the vicinity, warning them of possible danger. They hope technology like this can save people from shootings in public places. This team was also at their first hackathon!

 

Best Hack using an NYC API: RatatouAI
This virtual rat uses the Clarifai API to detect the foods users have available and suggest recipes they can make. Next steps for this team include adding features like customizable nutrition content.

 

Most Fun Hack: Twitch Plays: Horror House
These hackers took the crowdsourced virtual fun of Twitch and brought it into the real world, allowing Twitch users to create experiences in an actual haunted house. They also made an excellent haunted house model to show off their hack!

 

Most Technical Hack: redditBotAnalysis
Bots posing as real users on social media can artificially influence public perception. To combat this, this team worked with the Reddit API, machine learning, and the Levenshtein distance algorithm to determine the overall likelihood of a thread being overrun with bots.

 

Best Hardware Hack: FriendAR
Using HoloLens and the Microsoft Face API, this team created an augmented reality system allowing users to identify the people around them by looking at their faces, providing social media information and the opportunity to chat via text.

 

Best Use of Twilio API: Infinite Loop Thingamajig Supply Inc.

Best Use of GIPHY API: HandyCamDogs & Cats

Best Use of Amazon Web Services: FriendAR

Best Use of MongoDB, Atlas, or Stitch: TxtEd

Best Domain Name Registered With Domain.com: Twitch Plays: Horror House

Many thanks again to our judges, volunteers, and of course our sponsors: Twilio, GIPHY, AirSwap, The New York Times, MongoDB, HistoWiz, Clarifai, David Aronoff, Bloomberg, Foursquare, and Insomnia Cookies.