The SXSW Hackathon has a very special place in my heart for being one of the most creative and innovative events I’ve had the opportunity to attend. It’s an intense 24-hour race to inspire, build and push the boundaries of tech across entertainment media.
This official SXSW event is wonderfully produced by Luann Williams with the expertise of Travis Laurendine and a slew of cohorts and volunteers.
Judging the event are some of the entertainment and media industries most notable influencers.
This year’s judges had their work cut out for them with 113 hackers forming 26 teams.
Their criteria for judging was Creativity, Ingenuity, Potential Impact and Technical Proficiency.
This was SXSW’s fifth Hackathon and Cloudinary’s second year as API sponsor. It was also my second year attending as mentor. Last year I was working for a real-time data stream network — PubNub, a Cloudinary partner. In fact, it was here where I met Doron Sherman, Cloudinary’s vice president of Evangelism. Doron saw my passion, joy and drive for mentoring developers first hand and shortly thereafter I joined the Cloudinary team.
It was great to be back in Austin for SXSW. As an API sponsor, our primary goal was to engage as many teams as possible, invite them to be creative and implement our APIs in new and innovative ways. Hackathons create an awesome opportunity to see what developers can do with your product, and many times in ways you would not expect or imagine.
I really love to see developers find success in their projects. Forming teams, creating an idea and then implementing that idea into to demo in 24 hours is amazingly difficult. Most teams are also eager to learn new APIs and embrace the challenge to include as many as possible to hedge their chances of winning at least one prize.
In a 24-hour event, the task of learning the ins and outs of a new API presents challenges and can certainly spell disaster if a team get’s stuck along the way. To that end, we’ve focused our attention to making the experience better by providing a Hackathon Guide filled with thought starters and quick-start recipes for using Cloudinary and other related technologies. This year we teamed up with Universal Music Group/Capitol Music Group and 7Digital to create our SXSW Hackathon Guide and offer participating teams professional mentoring and support.
The creativity of this year’s teams was phenomenal. We saw several AR/VR projects that were well grounded in engaging users in a mixed-reality experience.
For example there was geAR, an app that automatically recognizes musical gear and overlays additional information in Augmented Reality.
Users hear a sound sample of the instrument as soon as they point at it. If the user is interested in learning more, they can view additional details about the item, including videos of the gear in use and real audio samples from artists who use that gear. It’s also possible to hear different gear setup, such as a guitar with different types of amps or pedals. The team envisions an integration with existing virtual amp apps like Jamup Pro, so an experienced player can step into a rehearsal room, plug the guitar into their iPhone and try a specific amp setting themselves.
CardsAgainstReality (CARds) caught my attention early on with their simple, but elegant, way to supercharge your business card with an AR portfolio.
In the VR Category, FanSourceVR gives fans the opportunity to stream live video of sporting events from their own perspective. Then whole experience is then stitched together into a VR experience that enables users to see the event from multiple points of view.
This year the Blockchain frenzy caught the attention of many hackers. UMG’s Tuhin Roy was adamant that the winning teams MUST convey a real use case for blockchain that’s far better than a traditional database lookup.
One such winning project was Dapster: Stream Cash, Stream Music.
Dapster’s web application enables users to stream music for free by leveraging cryptocurrencies and standby CPU utilization. The goal in using these emerging technologies is to create a sustainable way to subsidize content streaming. Their innovative solution allows users to enjoy unlimited ad-free music in exchange for computing power to mine Monero cryptocurrency, which in turn pays artists.
Of the projects that made it to the finish line, six teams built their projects around Cloudinary APIs. We awarded two teams prizes for the Most Creative Use of Cloudinary and the Best Implementation of Cloudinary.
Creatively speaking DreamNA’s project caught our attention from the start. They won our prize for Most Creative Use of Cloudinary.
Ioana Mischie is a transmedia storyteller with an unique vision to create immersive visual stories to help people who can’t dream — dream. Her team’s challenge was perfectly matched for Cloudinary’s APIs.
The team focused on interactively stylizing 360 VR video with our Neural Network Style transfer capability.
Completing and implementing a working project in 24 hours incredibly challenging, and when we saw that this marvelous, and jet-lagged team, direct from Japan build and demonstrate emShare we knew we had a winner for Best Implementation Using Cloudinary. The emShare app provides the user experience for sharing ones emotions during a live performance.
Other interesting projects built with Cloudinary APIs included;
PowerMusic — A music service that returns power to the artists.
practiceHero — Band Practice just got a whole lot easier.
Rock The Poll: The Multi Purpose Voting Application — We can tell you who the real king of rock and roll is, using analytics drawn from the blockchain.
Unique to this year’s event, was the opportunity for developers to access a wide variety of music clips and songs from the Capitol Records / Universal Music Group catalog via API’s from 7Digital.
Some notable projects included;
Music Mod — Online blockchain service to handle content transfer, contracts, and escrow of music collaboration.
8Trac — Decentralized investment platform for artists to raise funds to produce their own content. The public record label.
ConcetBilia — Live VR concerts where you can purchase same day concert collectibles on the ethereum blockchain.
So What’s Next?
Goodbye Austin, Hello Hollywood! We’re excited to announce Cloudinary’s participation with Capitol Innovation Labs in Hollywood at the legendary Capitol Tower and Studios.
Capitol Innovation Labs will host a series of events, including Hackathons and Speaker Workshops, which will kick off in June.
The first Hackathon, set for June 2 and 3, will bring together software developers, acclaimed producers, songwriters, and influencers in a global challenge to incubate new waves of music related products, services, and content.
For the duration of the Hackathon, participants will have access to the state-of-the-art Capitol Recording Studios, as well as a catalog of UMG audio streaming tracks delivered by UMG partners 7Digital (B2B digital music and radio services company) and Cloudinary (end-to-end cloud-based image, audio, and video management solution).
Winning developer teams will be eligible for an 8-month innovation license to draw from this catalog, while winning content teams will have the opportunity to pitch their finished pieces directly to Capitol’s A&R team.
The Hackfest will be held in collaboration with Travis Laurendine, the producer behind North America’s top music festival and conference hackathons including SXSW, Outside Lands, and Canadian Music Festival.