We’ve all heard “Fail Early, Fail Often”, and hackathons are a fun way to work out ideas, put time into side projects, and gain experience with APIs and SDKs that are not pertinent to my day job but might be interesting and/or useful in the future.  Here are some I’ve done, all successful in their own way:

  • NeuroGaming Conference: Joycast – Intelligent automation for photography.  This uses an EEG headset and takes a photo of things that make you happy.  It won 3rd place and some awesome prizes despite not being a game (or because of it?).
  • SiliconChef: work life enhancer- Uses an EEG headset to detect frustration or focus.  It sends you a funny cat photo to cheer you up and give you a break when you are frustrated, and dispenses snacks when you are focused for a long time to reward you and keep you going.
  • WhiteEye – helps prescreen for eye cancer with a mobile phone
  • Angelhack: Flashcards – This project uses the priority queue based algorithm that I personally use when studying.  It works well for me, and this project was meant to remove some of the overhead of sorting items.  Flashcard applications are of course common, but this was a good excuse as any to play with the Firebase API(source)
  • Cereal Hack: LunchD – Where’s lunch?  The goal of this was to have a cross-platform app that would account for the lunch preferences of a group of people and take care of the overhead of deciding where to go and why.  It was an excuse to play with the PhoneGap project along with some jQuery plugins. (source)
  • Milwaukee Barcamp – I’ve went to a few of the early camps, before hackathons became all the rage.  In between sessions, I played with HTML5, Raphaël, and Processing.js.  I also gave a presentation on the physics of photography, which was fun.