Tech
5 min read

Hackairthon Numero Two

We live for hackathons. They’re about more than just pulling crazy hours, eating pizza, and drinking beer (although, hey that’s great too). It’s about shaking off some of those daily routines to try and make something for the sheer joy of it.

*Just look at that focus and intensity*☝
Our last Hackairthon in January is a tough show to follow, but our engineers did not disappoint. This time around, things got extra geeky and the results were pretty phenomenal in our humble and biased opinion.

(By the way, if you don’t know what a hackathon is, go check this post out)

Hackathon highlights

There were a lot of projects, so to keep things short and sweet, let’s just go over a few in more detail.

Coffee Hax

For the Coffee Hax project, two of our engineers rigged our coffee machine with an Airtame to snap a pic of the coffee drinker and send it to a special channel on Slack.

What’s the point of this, you might be wondering? Well, I wondered too, so I asked one of the engineers behind this project a few questions and he obliged. Check that out below.

How did we come up with this idea? We wanted to make something fun that was doable in 2 days. Also, the idea of a SmartHome has been around for a while, so why not give it a try and hack a coffee machine.

How does it work/how can you implement it into the Airtame product? We used Airtame as a main controller in our setup. We connected a camera and a mic to it, so we can record both video and audio and process it on the device without transferring elsewhere. Devices capabilities allow us to do so. So to detect if someone is making a coffee, we use a camera to detect motion and once we are certain that this guy/girl is at the “coffee corner” and not just passing by, we start recording an audio for 15-30 seconds. After the recording is done we use a special audio fingerprinting algorithm to match it against our “grinder audio sample”. If it’s a match – we select the best picture, taken with a camera and post it on our dedicated Slack channel, using a bit of special software running on Airtame.

Any unexpected results? At first we wanted to connect to the coffee machine directly using RS232 port, so the coffee machine could let us know if someone is making a coffee. It didn’t work out well, so we had to switch to the back up plan, described above.

WordSnake – a Multiplayer Word Game

WordSnake is a multiplayer word game where two players compete by tapping on the first letter of a word that is written in a circle. The fastest to tap the letter wins!

The players play on their phones, and the game can be viewed on an Airtame (just set the game room’s viewer URL as a dashboard).

The game was written by Peter in Elm – a fairly new, wonderful functional language for web apps.

HDMI capture

The purpose of the project was to capture the HDMI output from a source device (i.e., laptop or tablet) and stream it to our dongle.

What they used

  • HDMI controller + software development kit
  • Airtame streaming API
  • An Airtame device

The results
This team was able to get the video frames from an HDMI output and convert them into the right format that the Airtame’s streaming code can interpret. This output was then successfully streamed to an Airtame dongle. This team has already integrated some of the components created in this project into the Airtame product.

That said, however, the audio capture proved to be more complicated than anticipated!

Google Cloud Vision

This one-man project involved image analysis using Google Cloud Vision. The way this worked was with a customized Slack channel connected to an Airtame. A slackbot, lovingly named spybot, instructed Airtame to capture the image that was currently showing on the TV screen. Then, Google Cloud Vision was used to analyze the image.

For example, spybot had this to say about our beachy default background:

  • I am 94% confident the screen contains coast
  • I am 92% confident the screen contains sea
  • I am 90% confident the screen contains landform
  • I am 90% confident the screen contains ocean
  • I am 87% confident the screen contains geographical feature

Non-dev projects

We like to keep our hackathons open to non-devs, because collaborative work is still collaborative work, even if you’re not coding.

This time, a few people from our Customer Experience team took the opportunity to clean up some data from our old e-commerce systems and integrate it all into our current system. When you consider that we’ve had 3 different systems before settling on our current one, the task is not as easy as it sounds.

This same team also worked on adding Slack notifications for each type of website sale, i.e., single buy, bundle purchase, 20+ purchases. This includes, of course, the excellent over-use of emojis.

*Some non-devs got in on the action*

To be continued

The Hackathon lasted 3 days and our devs took on 11 projects. In the context of a hackathon, I’d say these projects were more or less a success. Most projects were demoed and some components will continue to be worked on.

What do you think of our hackathon projects? Cool, right? We’re always open to hear suggestions for interesting ways to run a hackathon. Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter!

Jessica Navarro