LA Hacks 2016: My First Hackathon

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to join 999 other college students from all over the United States to participate in a hackathon. Read about my experience below!

LA Hacks is a weekend-long event dedicated to 1,000 students interested in collaborating and building solutions to problems using technology and creativity. The organization promotes 3 values as it quotes:

1. Inclusivity: “Come as you are. We make sure you have everything you need to carry out your craziest ideas—amazing mentors, delicious food, and a fun work environment.”

2. Learning: “Get personalized help from mentor teams comprised of UCLA’s best and brightest. Collaborate with your peers and learn from industry leaders.”

3. Community: “Take a break from your hack to enjoy games, guest speakers, and other special events. Make new friends or even network with our sponsors.”

You’re probably wondering, what is a marketing student doing at a hackathon? My passion for digital growth does not only include social media and content creation, but also coincides with my eagerness to learn about future technology. I attended the event because I wanted to observe, write, and bring awareness to interesting ideas and technologies that are being used in the community. Although I did not create a project at the event, my interest in new ideas led me to amazing discoveries during the workshops I had attended.

I learned about IoT, which stands for the Internet of Things. This refers to the growing network of physical objects and their data connecting to Internet-enabled devices and systems. During this workshop, Tata Consultancy Services spoke about how IoT budgets will increase by 20% by 2018 to $103 million. “Across the 13 industries we studied, some 79% companies use the IoT to track their customers, products, the premises in which they do business with customers, or their supply chains. This year, companies with IoT initiatives that completed all our survey questions will invest $86 million – or 0.4% of revenue – apiece to further their projects” (TCA).

This idea of interconnections is already found in many everyday items today, such as clothing, watches, and even toilet paper roll holders. It is clear that the future is shifting closer and closer to the web. Of all the technology trends currently happening, IoT may give us the biggest disruption as well as most opportunity over the next ten years.

I learned about Visual and Voice Recognition. The use of visual and voice recognition played huge roles in many projects created at the event. One of the winning teams based its idea on a phone’s camera tool, allowing it to process the objects in front of the lens and describing the environment through audio. This project was targeted to those who are visual impaired. Although the project was only a prototype, its potential is huge, especially when its ability increases from image-recognition to emotion-recognition. With its ability to determine surrounding, people who lack vision would have better knowledge to understand his or her environment.

Vohab was another interesting project that utilized a recognition tool to record the amount of times users speak in verbal static. Noting specific words including “like” “uhm” and “uh,” the device aims to reduce communication barriers and increase the fluidity of speech. By continuously tracking and calculating word frequency and tone data from a Raspberry Pi (the wearable) and Microsoft’s Cognitive Services API suite, users can view a history of their vocabulary habits through a user-speech analysis that highlights word frequency, tone analysis, and even swear counts (Vohab).

I learned about Virtual Reality. My favorite part of the event was trying on a virtual reality headset for the first time. With the Los Angeles bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics, a team deviated its project off the idea and created a VR experience that  would aggregate live data from game watchers during the Olympics to increase viewership participation. The goal of the project was to provide a new social experience to game watchers by matching him or her with other game watchers with same personalities (T#157 VR Interactive TV For Olympics).

Another innovative VR project was done by Team SpaceXZY, where its members used virtual reality to comprehend abstract 3 dimensional mathematical concepts. Using examples from linear algebra, the team demonstrated how virtual reality can assist with student engagement in mathematics.

Although VR is not yet a common household staple, there have been several up-and-coming projects in the industry. It won’t be surprising if you see an explosive growth in VR technology in the next five years, as it could lead to exponential growth in the value of many consumer brands.

Despite midterm season, attending the 2016 LA Hacks was one of the most inspiring and thought-provoking event I’ve attended this year. This time, I observed and learned; but next time, I’m ready to build and innovate.

****Article originally written and seen on https://www.redorum.com/redorum-at-la-hacks/

Sources:
http://designtaxi.com/news/368471/A-Smart-Toilet-Paper-Roll-Holder-That-Alerts-You-When-It-Runs-Out/
http://lahacks2016.devpost.com/submissions
http://sites.tcs.com/internet-of-things/key-findings/iot-spend-will-increase-to-103-million-in-2018/
http://devpost.com/software/vohab

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