Over the weekend I had a chance to visit the LinkedIn office and judge their Hackathon. They had about 400+ people register to hack and they finally selected about 200. Of these, 20 teams were formed and a set of 9 hacks were chosen to present to the final jury.
As expected many of the hacks followed the “I want to connect with someone, but I don’t like business cards” problem. That’s such a known problem and there are so many people that are aware of it that I see a variation of a solution to the problem in almost every hackathon I attend. At this hackathon, there were 3 of the 9 companies that presented a solution they felt would solve that problem. One was pretty interesting given that they used Google Glass, but nonetheless it was a trendy take to solve the same problem.
I am always impressed by and energized to see hacks that developers build to solve their own developer problems.
One such problem was Xkeys (a Chrome plugin). This product uses the accessibility keys and features on websites to help you map keyboard shortcuts to surf the web with as little usage of the mouse as possible. Very neat problem. I love using keyboard shortcuts all the time and it helps me be more productive.
Another such problem was solved by a solo developer who built a solution to convert HTML tables into spreadsheets on the fly at any webpage. This allows you to cut and paste a column of the table instead of copying the entire table into Excel and manipulating it. Again, a real problem and a really interesting solution.
The winner was a solution that uses face recognition to solve the “sleepy” car driver problem. Mount your smartphone on your car dash and if have a pebble watch (or any other device), it will detect when your eyelids are drooping and send alarms to your watch or make a loud noise to wake you up. It will also alert you to the closest coffee shop so you can grab a caffeine jolt.
There were other hacks as well that provided a real time table reservation update to your favorite restaurant – one that needs to be updated by the restaurant owner, which I felt was going to be a pain.
Another hack was an app which uses GPS to allow you to track all your friends, when you are all trying to meet together. Imagine if 4 of your friends were all trying to go to a movie and instead of SMSing or Whatsapping each other about your location every 3 minutes, you could download this app and it would map your location and the 3 other friend’s locations as well.
Overall I saw some really high quality apps and as is the current trend, the LinkedIn offices were really swanky. The winners got MacBook Air’s and the runners up iPad Air’s and the 3rd place winners got iPad mini’s.