Dawn Shines on Manhattan 24-Hour Hackathon


This past weekend, it has been my privilege to attend a 24 hour Kinect Hackathon in Manhattan sponsored by the NUI Central meetup and the Kinect team.  It’s been great seeing Ben, Carmine and Lori from the Kinect team once again as well as meeting lots of new people.  My fellow MVP Adras Valvert from Hungary was also here.  Deb and Ken from the meetup group did an amazing job organizing the event and keeping the coffee flowing.

Judging is happening now.  I was supposed to walk around and help people throughout the night with their code but for the most part I’ve simply been in a constant state of amazement over what these developers and designers have been able to come up with.  In many cases, these are java and web developers working with WPF and Windows Store Apps for the first time.

Here are some cool things I’ve seen.  Several teams are working with experimental near field technology to do up close gesture detection along the lines of Leap Motion and Intel’s Perceptual Computing.  One old friend is here working on improving his algorithms for doing contactless heart rate detection.  There are several finger detection apps doing anything from making a mechanical arduino controlled hand open and close in response to the user’s hand opening and closing to a contactless touch typing application.  There’s an awesome Kinect-Occulus Rift mashup that allows the player to see his own virtual body – controlled by the Kinect – and even injects bystanders detected by the Kinect for Windows v2 into the virtual experience.  There’s a great app that brings awareness to the problem of abandoned explosives worldwide which uses Kinect to map out the plane of the floor and then track people as they step carefully over and invisible minefield.

Field research: I also gathered some good material about developers’ pain points in using the Kinect.  I simply went around and asked what devs encountering the Kinect for the first time would like to see in a programming book. 

There’s also apparently a picture going around showing me sprawled on the floor and drooling down the side of my face.  Please delete this immediately if you encounter it.

It’s been a long sleepless night for many people but also a testament to the ingenuity and stamina of these brilliant developers.