What does it take to get almost 100 hackers in one room to do some good work for the world?
Make it wholesome.
This past weekend, we had UT students gather in the SAC Ballroom in order to attempt to hack up a project that would promote good health and physical well-being. Though there is some irony in hosting wholesomeness in an event that cultivates sleepless nights and overdoses in coffee (especially in 24-48 hr hackathons), being amidst students who thrive (or suffer) in that environment produced many amazing projects!
For instance, one team created a project, called Eye/Eye, that tracked your eye movement with the camera. If your eyes are staying stagnant too long, they'll notify you to move your eyes or take a break and do some eye-rolling exercises.
Another team created a web app called Subtitled that processes a speaker's voice and transcripts the words onto the web app. Students can join in on the web application and read off the transcript, and all it requires is a device that can record in order to transcribe the voice for everyone to see. It also works for other languages! (creds to Microsoft Azure's Cognitive Services).
One of my favorite projects is called WholesomeStudio, where a team created a web application that provides an amazing soozing interface with different sounds you can play with on the keyboard to create sick beats. It's so simple, yet when I'm on there pressing random keys, I feel like I'm releasing my stress and turning it into a melody of chill music lol. If you want to play with it, the link is here! (hopefully, they move it to a permanent website).
My favorite thing while at hackathons is asking about other people's experiences. While I was helping out in judging, I got to speak to several teams, and it always touches my heart to hear people who're experiencing their 1st or 2nd hackathon (especially when they show a project that's completed in 9 hours that they've worked alone on, and end up placing in the finals ._.). It always inspires me.
Having experienced pretty rough 1st & 2nd hackathons, I feel so glad to hear others have smoother experiences. Like a testimony, it gives off good vibes and reminds me why I love the hackathon space (aside from the lack of sleep and bug fixes). And if they may not feel like the hackathon was the best, I take that opportunity to encourage them and share my testimony of hackathons. Their experience doesn't define them as bad coders and a bad experience doesn't define what hackathons are really like. As always, hackathons are an opportunity to continue to learn and apply new skills, meet an amazing community, and win some prizes in the process ;)
Anyways, with this hackathon concluding, it gets me pumped for the Fall. I can't wait for HackTX! Wholesome hacks is just our Spring event for UT students, in order for organizers to get a feel for working with new people, bond, and have a good time. Though I don't know what's in store for the coming Fall in preparation to the hackathon (and being on Tech team again this year will be a lot of work) I can't wait to see the fruit that we get to see from what we do :)
Thanks for reading my blog post. It's been a while since I've uploaded. I'll be transparent, and say that I haven't upheld my duty as a blogger for UT due to how I've stewarded my time well. I hope you guys will forgive me in that aspect, and I will attempt to do better in the future!
Good luck with exams and all that you've got within the coming weeks. Those projects can be toughies, as well as essays and other school work stuff, but I believe you guys can do it! Keep on fighting the good fight, and I'll see you guys in the next blog post. :) Ciao!