The largest Hackathon in the country took place yesterday at Irvine auditorium on the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia. It was quite the sight to see, 500 programmers and hackers coming together for a huge event. Out of 500 participants only 20 made it to the finals to be judged by an elite panel of the tech industries' finest. Among them were Josh Kopelman of First Round Capital, Jack Abraham of eBay Local, John Biggs from TechCrunch and many more listed here. Each of the 20 finalists got a chance to demo their idea in front of the judges and a packed auditorium with the hopes of winning the grand prize. The grand prize which went to Inventory was $4000, trip to Google NYC, automatic entry into Greylock Hackfest 2, and a slot to demo their app at Philly Tech Meetup.
Inventory is a really cool RFID chip device installed in your book bag that tells your phone through an app that the hackers developed what items you are putting inside your bag so that when you are going to say...the airport, you don't forget important items like your wallet, keys, passport, food, medication, etc. They also programmed a cool feature into their custom Android app to keep track of the items and notify the user when he/she forgets something. They also have context aware features like weather suggestions. For example, if it's cold, and your bag doesn't have a jacket or gloves in it, you would get a notification to tell you to pack them.
Virtual Perspective came in second place ($2,500 prize) with their Android application that captures an object with your phone or tablet and uses facial recognition to view it in 3D. For example, you could use the app to show someone your new car in 3D even if they are in another country.
And in third place ($1,000 prize) was a unique and fun app called WebTube. As the hacker said on the microphone, "Browse the interwebs through the familiar comfort of an old-school CRT TV!" He then showed everyone a TV screen on the projector which allowed him to view web pages as if he was watching TV. He could change channels, add distortion, and even view web pages like the intro to Star Wars since he loves George Lucas. You can try it out if you download Google Chrome and enable CSS Shaders flag, or download the latest WebKit Nightly Build to see it in action.
Overall the demos were very impressive for only being built in 48 hours. One of the sponsor awards went to a high school student who built the same app for iPhone's and Android phones without actually coding them both. He figured out a way to do this without changing the framework, and this helped him win the "Most Cutting-edge" award & $500 for his app called Hot Cocoa.
Overall the event was pretty awesome, and you have to admit seeing Josh Kopelman ride in on a Segway was pretty cool too! I took plenty of great pictures for Philly Tech Meetup while our resident social media guru Sophie Tran tweeted away live! For a list of all the other winners check them out here. If you were at the event post a comment here about what you thought, and if not come next year!
As always, subscribe to this column to read more great stories, and share this story with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog!