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How to win a Glass hackathon

Today I attended the http://www.hackathon.io/breaking1 Breaking Glass Hackathon. It reminded me of the first iPhone Dev Camp. Great times, saw some cool apps. I think Techcrunch Disrupt will be a lot of fun (my employer +Rackspace is giving away $10,000 to a Glass developer, more on that contest and how to participate soon).

But I noticed some things. If you want to win one of these hackathons, there's some tips (I was a judge today).

1. Use the sensors and not just the camera. The winner, "Glass Frogger" http://glassfrogger.com/ used sensors to sense when you are jumping in the air (it is a version of Frogger that you had to play by jumping in the air, like a frog).

2. Have a demo that works. It's hard to get excited when your demo doesn't work. It isn't fair, but here's a tip: we only have to BELIEVE it worked. So, if the Internet isn't working, have a fake version that you can switch to that fakes it. Just be convincing if you have to go through this.

3. Have a demo. This is slightly different than rule #2. But some of the teams had very well thought out concepts, but didn't show us a demo. Sorry, this is a hackathon, so you are given extra points for showing our code working.

4. Have a complete package. The winning team, http://glassfrogger.com/ again, has a whole website up and you can get the app and try it. Other teams said "we won't be ready for a month." 

5. Do something with Glass that you can't do with a smartphone. The top three winners all did that. This is pretty much the same rule as #1, though.

6. Don't worry about the business model. Too much. The judges usually don't care at this point whether you can really make a billion-dollar business. If you can see the way to do that, great, but we'll be judging you more on if you do something we want to put on our face and try.

7. The trick is to demonstrate you know the platform very well. Using Bluetooth to talk to other devices? Excellent. Using the sensors in the Glass? Even better. Doing things with the API we though would be impossible? Even better! 

Anyway, I was at the first iPhone Dev Camp and this seems to be very similar. Developers who are pushing the platform past what it can do, throwing around ideas, teaching each other. 

I can't wait to see what's next from this community. Next weekend there is another Glass Hackathon. Info on that is over on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/166143383572472/ (it's in San Mateo). 

#throughglass  (all these photos were taken on my Google Glass).
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43 comments
 
No access to the sensors yet via the API. Did they sideload Android SDK?
 
Shaker that isn't completely true. Some sensor support was turned on in the Ribbon SDK last week. 
 
+Robert Scoble Do you know of a place on the web that lists/announces Hackathons?  I have started a social impact company and have heard there are "hackathons for good"; programmers that will hack at an app or other technology for society issues, in our case, people helping people.   Your post caught my eye....  any info would be kindly appreciated.  Thank you! Best,AM
 
+Franco Colomba - You are welcome to use my Glass if you are in the Miami area to Win this. I normally hang out in a Hacker Space  that is ~10 minutes away from the Conrad Hotel in Coral Gables on Saturdays. 
 
Don't have glass :(  How is eye fatigue on something like GlassFrogger? As I understand it, you look up and to the right to see the screen occasionally. But this sounds like an augmented reality game where you are constantly looking at the screen?
 
+Kerstin B - Eye Strain is minimal when you first start using them and it goes away after a few days of use. Google recommends that new Glass users only wear them for 2-3 hours a day at most for the first few days to allow you to adjust. 
 
the monocular design is still bad for your eyes...strain or not.  Our eyes are not built for significant/pervasive distraction in a monocular design.  Other companies are tackling that much better.
 
+Kerstin B Not sure about eye strain with GlassFrogger but I don't think I'd be hopping around long enough for that to happen. Will report back later ;-)
 
+Kerstin B you can adjust the placement of Glass slightly (to be more in your vision), but this is such a simple game you really don't have to stare at the screen too much.

That being said, I've never had eyestrain even watching long CNN videos.
 
The Facebook link to the hackathon this coming weekend doesn't work for me. Is there a direct link to it or do I need to be invited to it?
 
+Robert Scoble can you tell us about the other two top teams? Would love to hear some of the other cool stuff people are coming up with.
 
+Brad Molen  I was part of the 2nd place team, Plant Something.  We created an native mixed reality app that allows you to plant gardens (associated with foursquare locations) by spatially placing our original 3D plant models using headtracking on Glass.  Gardens are publicly viewable by other users at the same venue and can collaboratively designed.  Up at http://plantsomething1.appspot.com/ but you need to sideload with ADB to install.
 
+Robert Scoble If you want to be a decent hackathon judge: 1. Rather than swooping in after the hackathon has finished and randomly applying your own different and arbitrary judging criteria to those published (http://breakingglass.eventbrite.com/), I suggest you put in more effort up front to help organizers define those criteria. 2. Declaring that you've chosen the winner before the judges have had any discussion does not give confidence that there was any rigorous selection process.  Breaking Glass Hackathon #BrGl
...all that said, GlassFrogger was awesome, it's just a shame you lowered the credibility of the winners.
 
+Shaker Cherukuri We didn't sideload anything.

We spent the first half of Saturday (9 AM to 5 PM) talking about ideas and playing with the event interrupts in Dart Editor, figured out which ones were for the XYZ accelerometer and used that.

The game itself is a website, you go to glassfrogger.com to authorize a card push to your device, then you open the card and do View Website to go to the game page.

Edit:  All of the code (stuff we learned on and the final product) is available for review on github ( https://github.com/dartglass )
 
+Ash Eldritch what the hell are you talking about? The winners were picked by a panel of judges and I did stick into the judging criteria (I rated each company on the form they gave us using their own criteria). All the judges agreed GlassFrogger was best. Not just me.
 
And, if you listen to what I said, I said "THAT is how you win a Hackathon." Why did I say that? Because not just did they nail every one of the official judging criteria we were asked to judge groups on, they also had the best presentation and the best website too.
 
+Ash Eldritch ... my contributions were securing a reliable connection for the team (we moved over 4Gig of data through my verizon phone in less than 36 hours); securing & provisioning the website and e-mail; developing & delivering the pitch; and supporting the coders ... 100% non-coding for me, instead over 24 hours alone of my time was devoted to developing a RICH & ROBUST pitch that specifically spoke to EVERY judging criteria (and judge for that matter, i was that specific in my points!) ... maybe +Robert Scoble's reaction made you think that way, but i assure you i spent a FULL DAY just thinking about what information we wanted to present to EACH judge ... i think this part of hackathons is definitely underrated and underappreciated; our team simply felt it was worthy of a full man days worth of work to address that weakness ... self-employed since 25, i'm 50 now and have lots of battle scars ... #pinkieswear  we knew EXACTLY what we were doing !!!

p.s. slept in my CAR 2 nights in a row ... 
 
We flew with glass enough said )"( and no side load play by the cards 
 
It was a great hackathon.  I think the breakdown came in that the judging criteria on hacker.io was not identical to the judging criteria on the event page.  Did it matter in the end?  I don't think so. The teams that won should have won. They actually hacked glass.

One thing I would like to see at hackathons is feedback for those that didn't win.

Receiving  feedback from judges would be beneficial to teams as they continue to develop projects rather than getting discouraged and never following up on an app that just needed more polish, or a better website or maybe it was a poor presentation.

Even being told "hey we loved everything about what you did.  These other 3 just did it better" is better than knowing nothing.

I do have one question for the frogger guys.  How do you make the frog move up and down the screen?  I know jumping made him move forward, but you will never win the game unless you can move vertically on the screen as well. #ifihadglass  i'd probably know this answer because I would be hopping around the house playing it.
 
thats an excellent question +Aaron Kasten !

even though you're seeing a two dimensional 5X9 array ... our approach was to simplify the solution down to a 1X9 LINE ;)

much more work to be done, including the ability for frogger to utilize those additional rows, and turning the water into a hazard for the frog while making the logs a safe spot (but then we're right back to the complexity of dealing with that 5X9 array!)

time limitations and a scarcity of physical control on glass forced up to take this approach to ensure we completed the project

the simple answer is that even though we created the illusion the frog could move up/down, he currently CAN'T ... good catch aaron !

we're working on it ...  #teamfrogger  is alive & well ;)
 
+Jeff Bond you guys did awesome.  It was an impressive demonstration.  You further prove the point +Robert Scoble was making.  Even if the app doesn't work just right, give the illusion that it does, and nobody will know the difference.
 
+Robert Scoble, you make great points! Thank you for judging. We are super proud of our VitalsOnGlass healthcare app...streaming vital signs to glass during conscious sedation. Even though Glass will be huge for gaming, we believe Glass will also make a great impact in healthcare delivery. Here is our presentation  Breaking Glass Hackathon #BrGl
 
Damn apparently I missed out on all the group photos :(
 
Great point on the not worrying about the business plan. It's a hackathon and all that's required is to build a great app that's really good and useful. +Shirley Harper 
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