MIT Reality Hack Hackathon: Part 2 – Thoughts & Impressions

This is part two of my coverage of the MIT Reality Hack (part one is here) where I talk about a few of the projects, and some high level impressions. Diversity rocks!! Such a pleasure to see so many women, people of color, and all ages represented..

I’ve been using GIIDE’s software to bring a multimedia approach to my posts; this is the transcript of that post.


So now that I’ve talke about what being at the MIT Reality Hack Hackathon last week was like, I want to talk about some of the projects that I really liked. And general impressions of the event as well.

First off I want to say how heartened I was by how many women there were; my guesstimate is that about 25% of the participants were women. There were also a fair number of people of color, as well as a decent age spread. Two of the women hackers were 60 plus, which I think is fantastic. And a few men in their 50s who by their own accounts had been there for the first wave of the internet, and were looking forward to being involved with this next generation of Web 3.0.

Hackers had an assortment of hardware and software products (sdks, APIs etc) to pick and choose from, including Microsoft Hololenses, Snap’s augmented reality Spectacles, which are not yet on the market; Magic Leap‘s second generation mixed reality headset, also not yet on the market, and Looking Glass Factory‘s 8k holographic displays.

Skinetic was there with a haptic vest which is still in kickstarter phase and ARItize maps was there with their persistent augmented reality tools (you can create augmented reality and permanently tie is to a location). Seek XR was there with their the 3D asset AR configurator, mobile scene creator planner, and integrator, and Solana and Symmetry with their web 3, blockchain tools.

All this stuff that wasn’t on the market yet, leads me to think the companies were using the hackathon to test their products with developers.

Participants could use any of these (or any combination of these) that they wanted to bring their projects to life (how much fun is that?!).

One of my favorites was the group designing responsive augmented reality. So, in the brower world, responsive websites reorganize themselves to most effectively and intuitively fit to the viewers screen. Think about how many different screen sizes there are, between all the phone, tablets, and computers. Responsive design automatically shifts everything around so that the viewer has the optimal experience.

But this hasn’t been done for augmented reality yet. This group designed a 3d augmented reality installation for “the Sanders experience” – a riff on a Bernie Sanders meme. It was a fully 3d typography in the round that was interactive (you could play with the letters) and each line of typography had a sound. But their point was, I could be seeing this in a large space, where there’s plenty of room to see it large. Maybe though, I’m seeing it in my living room. They built a way to have it scan the surroundings and adjust the size od the 3D AR experience to automatically fit. Genius in my humble opinion; that tech has huge commercial applications for the future of advertising and experiences.

Another was technology that combined blockchain NFT art with community and geolocation. Their idea was to create a permanent community based augmented reality installation using shards – an installation that paid homage to the native americans who’s lands MIT is built on. Each shard had an NFT token minted against it, and each one could be bought; once bought, it would be placed as a piece of the final, whole statue – which when finished, would permanently be available to see. Every time one of the NFTd shards sold, 40% would be paid to the tribe the statue honored. I love the community building aspect of this story, and could see brands doing something similar to create a community-based augmented reality project for fans of their brand.

And the third project that really stood out for me is the group that developed a voice directed programming interface for VR design- you said “sofa” and a sofa would drop in, you said, “larger” and it would get bigger, etc. Placement was still with your hand, but it was a fantastic step towards accomodating people with accessability challenges. It’s essentially visual programming but with voice interaction.

So many other amazing projects – there were 80 projects and I didn’t see all of them – but these three really stood out for me.

Participating is an amazing way to get noticed if you’re a developer or designer. Every company was there to identify and possibly recruit a hot dev – or identify a project with commercial potential. a woman representing Apple literally stood up during one of the evening parties and announced point blank that she was there to recruit, and anyone interested should talk to her. In addition, I chatted with the people working on the projects I mentioned above and talked about the commercial possibilities of what they were doing, and they’d already been approached by companies to do just that.

So I hope you enjoyed my little wrap up of the MIT Reality Hack Hackathon; let me know what you think!

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