HackU 2013 at IIT Madras

At 4:00am on Pi Day (14th March 2013), we headed out to reach the Bangalore railway station to make the long journey to Chennai for HackU at IIT Madras. Six hours later, we exited our air-conditioned coach to step out into the hot and humid Chennai for some serious hacking.

HackU started with speeches from Prof. Sreenivasa Kumar P (Head of Department, Computer Science of IIT Madras) and Jeyandran Venugopal (Sr. Director @Yahoo!).

Photo credit to Markandey Singh

Following these inspiring talks, we began the traditional tech talks. Participants leaned a great deal, with talks like "Hack 101" by Jithin Emmanuel, "How to think of a great idea?" By Tom Praison, "YQL: Master of the Mix" by Markandey, "The Invisible Interfaces" by Arunima Saboo, "Javascript, PHP, MySQL Primer" by Niranjan B Prithviraj , "Let’s BOSS: play with search and geo" by Sagar Borkar, "Flickr and Twitter Api's walkthrough" by Aniket Rangrej and "YUI Talk" by Sony Francis Jose

The hackday really began at 11:00AM on Saturday (16th March 2013). At 11am on Sunday, after 24 hours of hacking complete with awesome food, snacks & caffeine, it was ‘pencils down’ and the hacking portion was complete. In one day, 108 hackers came up with 34 hacks.

Hacks were from a variety of disciplines - from UI hacks like Zoom Calendar, Crystal WebView to a hardware hack like Pi-phone-gamer. The Android platform attracted the imagination of hackers which was evident from the multitude of droid hacks like Share a cab, Travel Alarm, City connect, eyeBook. All these hacks, except eyeBook, used the Geo Location capability of the device. Hackers were also attracted towards the application of gesture recognition, and high quality hacks like Hand Of God and eYeY! explored this aspect. We were pleased by the number of top quality hacks which were based on the application of sciences like sentiment analysis, clustering and NLP. In fact, all of the winning hacks shared this feature, as did hacks like CriXpert, which has the potential to develop into a cricket match analysis tool which can predict a game's man of the match.

We started hack presentations at 3PM on Sunday (March 17th), With 3 judges Hemant Minocha ( Product Manager @Yahoo!), Prof.s B.Ravindran and Krishna Nandivada (Faculty at IIT Madras), where 29 hacks turned up for the presentation.

6 Hacks walked away with cool prizes:

1st Prize (iPad Mini)
Affective Mario By Asha Talambedu, Niharjyoti Sarangi, Anuran Mohanty, Anik Sengupta

This hack enhances the game playing experience by recognizing your emotion (facial features detection using a camera and parsing it through a SVM to detect your emotions). Make the game difficult when you smile and make it easy when you look sad.

2nd Prize (Samsung Galaxy S2)
IntelliShop By Anuja Agarwal, Patanjali SLPSK, Vijay Karthik, Sharmistha

Enhances UI by adding colors to features of phone, to make buying decisions easier. Does sentiment analysis on reviews, and gives appropriate colors to each feature of the phone.

3rd Prize (Wireless Hard-Disc)
Yahoo! AnswersEx By KVS Dileep

This hack developed an algorithm to figure out how difficult it will be to get the answer of a question on “Yahoo! Answers”, to give an early feedback to user.

Judges' favorite (Yahoo! branded foldable Bags)
eYeY! By Sarthak Parui, Sudeshna Roy, Niranjan Mujumdar

Solves problem of knowing where in the screen user is looking with just front camera of the device in use and in real-time.

Budding Hacker Award (Raspberry Pies)
Twinfluence By Nikhil Nainani, Aritra Ghosh, Pallavi Gudipati, Gangal Varun

Visualizes campaign effectiveness on map, using twitter data on real-time.

Hacker's Choice Awards
Friendlee By Akiti Chandan Reddy, Sasidhar Sanapala, Addanki Raghavendra Kiran, Sashank Vandrangi

Had highest votes on hacktracker.

Thanks to Muthusamy Chelliah for conducting the event and Natasha Kabra for organizing it. Congratulations to all the winners and kudos to all hackers for coming up with brilliant hacks. Thanks to Tech Crew for all the tech talks and helping out the students with ideas and brainstorming the hacks. Thanks to Adarsh who was present during the event to scope out some potential hires for Yahoo! and last but not the least thanks to Acme Events India for arranging the awesome food.

To learn more, check out the Facebook page of HackU and the official photo stream of HackU @ IIT Madras.