Enchanted Spaces Hackathon

Hackathon Photo 4

Devices are everywhere. Because of their considerable impact on our lives, it’s natural to wonder about how they work. How do they know so much? How do they talk to each other?

Could it be magic?

Our team decided to answer these questions in the form of a Hackathon. To test our final products, we invited impartial judges into the office after a weekend of hacking. Who better to use our magical devices, than kids?

We see Hackathons as competitions designed to test our limits. Almost like a lock-in you might’ve done when you were a kid, except with electronics and software hacking. Hackathons best begin with brainstorming and research of the defined topic. Ours was Enchanted Spaces.

Hackathon Photo 27

For this competition, we broke into three teams. Team A ambitiously came up with an interactive LEGO “Ninjago” concept. The idea was to allow participants to interactively paint on a “Ninjago” scene by coloring on a “Ninjago” shaped whiteboard. The device would detect any updates to the whiteboard and magically update their elaborate ninja scene with inspiration from the whiteboard.

However, once Team A was midway through their research, they realized detecting whiteboard changes would not be possible under the Hackathon time constraints. Hope was not lost as they evolved the whiteboard interaction into an interactive mobile app.

Their project ended up being a spectacular immersive experience with interactive lights and sounds.

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Team B had a simple idea: what if their device could tell jokes? What started out as an interactive Teddy Bear, turned into a joke-telling room. Upon entering the room you’re greeted with a “knock-knock joke.” The room responds to specific cues and interacts with participants until the final punchline is delivered.

For Team B, one device just wasn’t a big enough challenge. They created another room for stargazing! In a dark room with stars spinning everywhere they created an interactive “view-master” with random images from NASA. As the ‘viewer’ flips through images on the view-master, their companions in the room can see what they’re viewing in real-time on the wall.

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Team C’s idea was to bring to life a photo booth. The challenge was to allow someone to interact with a photo booth without using a mouse or keyboard. The solution was simple… let them talk to it! Team C ended up creating an interactive photo-room with voice activated controls to take and print pictures, along with the ability to paint on the screen. Just say the name of a color, move your hands around and paint will appear over the video. Say “Take a picture” and the device snaps the picture and allows you to print.

Our Enchanted Spaces Hackathon was an overwhelming success. The participating kids loved everything we built. Watching them discover new ideas through the devices we created was an rewarding experience. Participants agreed that even though it was tough, everyone learned a lot and are ready for the next iteration. It was a window into what’s possible outside of our normal project cycles and the massive potential of what we can accomplish. I’m excited for what’s to come next!

Check out footage from the hackathon here.