hack-the-valley

6 Awesome Hacks from Hack The Valley

I spend my weekends traveling to various events hustling the VentureStorm platform and growing the community. This weekend we went north of the border to the University of Toronto Scarborough to sponsor their hackathon, Hack the Valley. My team and I ran the team formation process, because we’re pros at connecting people ;), and met a ton of hackers creating some amazing technology! Throughout the night we spoke to a ton of teams, and here are the six that we enjoyed the most!

In no particular order…

Music Transcription App

Music Analyzer

(left to right: Cherise Bryan, Julian Chu, Adithya Venkatarao, Gary Tong)

If you’re an artist of musician this one is for you. The team originally wanted to create an app to transcribe music into sheet music as you’re listening to a song. Think Shazam but instead of naming the song you get the sheet music as it’s playing.

The team realized this goal was a little ambitious for a 36-hour hackathon so they took it back a notch. They created a program to turn your keyboard into musical notes. You can play various songs (and write the sheet music) through typing on the keyboard! This program taught them a lot about music syntax, music theory, and the technology that would go into their larger vision. I hope they take it to the next level because I see serious potential.

OCodR

OCodR

(left to right: Ryan Young, Aaruran Elamurugaiyan, Neeilan Selvalingam, Lars Nolden)

For all the software engineers or students reading this post, this one is for you. OCodR is a virtual whiteboard to write code on. The team’s original vision was an image processing application that could read hand written code. Then it would compile the code and run it. As with any entrepreneurial endeavor (or hackathon) you need to create an MVP and then iterate. This is what brought them to a virtual whiteboard application that could read handwriting, translate it to code and (if time permitted) compile it.
There’s a huge potential for this in classrooms where professors do not want students using computers to check Stack Overflow for answers! Or professors grading tests could use the larger vision to validate answers. If you haven’t taken a hand written software test, reading someone’s code and testing it can be a pain!!

Menu Analyzer

Menu Analyzer

(left to right: Nafees Rawji, Eric Papagiannis, Bekzod tursunov)

Ever gone to a foreign restaurant and have no idea what you’re looking at? Interested in knowing nutritional facts from a menu item? The menu analyzer is a sick application that can solve those problems and more! Simply take a picture of a menu item and the application will translate it (if it’s in a different language), pull up an image, and give you the nutritional facts. Now, this team didn’t index every single food item known to man. They leveraged a few API’s with some custom logic to get you all the answers you seek.

Developer Tool Game

browser game

(left to right: Jacob Chamberlain, Carter Cook, linhai yin)

When I approached this team and heard they were making a game, I assumed it was a .io game. One of those addicting multiplayer online games, like slither.io. But boy was my mind blown with what they were trying to do. So they wanted to make a purely frontend game, but they wanted to use the developer tools as events or input. This probably doesn’t make any sense so let me give some examples.

The game would function like a normal game where you move with the arrow keys, jump with spacebar, move items with an action button etc. To interact with the game you need to interaction with the page’s source code. To get past a block in the way, you need to edit the HTML and remove the item. Or execute some JavaScript in the browser console to get past it. Now this project is extremely tough because there aren’t exposed API’s or event listeners to the chrome developer tools. So the creators couldn’t tell exactly how the player is using them.

This concept seemed like an exciting way to guide new developers through the browser tools. It’d be like a game that teaches you how to code by playing, but this would walk you through all the tools you have to use! I can’t tell you enough how useful it is to inspect network responses or test custom JS in the console. But many young developers don’t know how to leverage these tools when creating a site.

Pickup

Pickup

(Usama Tahir)

Sports lovers will need this app. Have you ever wondered what someone’s pickup basketball record was (or hockey since we were in Canada)? Well pickup allows you to see community members’ records, chat with them, and challenge them. If you and your squad were looking for new groups to challenge you can find them on pickup. There is some serious potential to create huge local communities through this application as well as track park usage data and statistics that local government’s would love to have.

Goalz

Goalz

(left to right: Percy teng, Ese Okonofua, Eric Bilbao)

Last but certainly not least, we have Goalz. This is something everyone could use, especially with the New Year. Goalz is a community application centered around creating goals and sticking to them. Are you trying to push 225lb’s on bench? Set a goal and alert your friends. By sharing your goal with your friends you will be 110% committed to achieving that goal. Your friends will probably put up some of their own goals, creating healthy competition.

I’ve seen this same tactic work for people on Instagram trying to get fit. But with this app it’s not just about fitness goals. You can share any type of goal and get that boost from your support group!


I have to give a huge shout out to my buddy Ralph (and the rest of his amazing team) for organizing this hackathon. Most of the participants definitely don’t know how much push back he got from administration. He also worked his ass off to convince my team to make the drive to Toronto. Thank you Ralph for your hard work (and early adoption of VentureStorm :p )!

By Tommy Johnson


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