NEWS: Procrastination application, robot garner first place in Hackathon

By CATHERINE DUAZO
Senior Writer

An anti-procrastination application and a robot that can be controlled by an Xbox Kinect won first-place prizes in the software and hardware categories of HackPrinceton’s Spring 2013 Hackathon on Sunday evening.

“We combined two of our favorite things in the world — Tamagotchi and trying to make ourselves a little more productive on the web,” Tamagetitdone team member Michael Toth said, referring to the Japanese handheld digital pet.

The application is a Google Chrome extension in which a Tamagotchi sits on the bottom-right hand corner of the web browser and sends alerts when the user spends too much time on one of the websites on its “unproductive list.” The Tamagotchi then goes around the screen and begins eating the links, pictures and video files on the website. Users can set the threshold time limit for this to occur.

Another feature of the app is that it stops the user from visiting sites on the “unproductive list” after a certain amount of time.

“If you’re on Facebook at 3:00 in the morning, it will actually pull down a curtain on the screen and tell you to go to sleep,” Toth said.

Tamagetitdone is made up of three students from Lehigh University. Toth said they would like to develop the app further and make it available to the public.

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Princeton students Neil Chatterjee ’15, Joseph Bolling ’15, Ankush Gola ’15 and Pranav Badami ’15 developed the Drawing Robot. The four-wheeled rover follows the path that the user traces on the screen of the rover using the Kinect.

The Hackathon provided a space in Sherrerd Hall where participants could develop an app or demo with mentoring, food and encouragement available to them. About 100 participants from more than 10 universities made up the 23 software groups and 11 hardware groups that demonstrated their ideas Saturday night.

Coding began at 7 p.m. Friday and ended at 5 p.m. Saturday, after which participants presented their final demos. Mentors with professional experience in various types of coding were on hand during the two-day event to provide feedback to participants.

The event was sponsored by a number of companies, including AppNexus, eBay and The Huffington Post. Sponsors used the event to recruit participants and advertise. Participants’ resumes were sent to the sponsors, and the sponsors were also notified of the winners of the Hackathon.

“We let them send us free T-shirts, free sunglasses, a whole bunch of free swag that we get to distribute to get their names out there,” Stephanie He ’15, one of the event’s organizers, said.

Participants signed up individually and were given the opportunity to form teams after pitching their ideas before the event began.

First-place prizes were $1,000 to each winning group, while second and third-place prizes were $750 and $500, respectively. In addition to first through third-place prizes, 10 additional prizes were awarded, including biggest fail, best utilization of a big dataset from software company and sponsor APT and best use of OpenTok, a feature of sponsor Tokbox. In addition to winning first place, Tamagetitdone won the crowd favorite category.

The judges were Program Director of Tigerlabs James Smits, TechCruch writer Chris Velazco, Vice President of Business Development at Tokbox Janine Yoong and self-described developer evangelist Kunal Batra at SendGrid.

Participants had a choice of competing in the software and hardware tracks. Hardware participants were allowed to buy equipment before the event, and grants were available to reimburse the costs of developing the hardware track demos. In addition to He, the Hackathon was organized by Vivian Qu ’14, Alexander Zhao ’15 and Keji Xu ’15.

©2013 The Daily Princetonian

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