HackTX is an annual 24-hour university hackathon located deep in the heart of Texas. It has been student run on The University of Texas at Austin campus over the past two years, and Context.IO has been proud to sponsor the event each year.
Almost 700 students on over 100 different teams competed for the top spots in the competition. A number of teams integrated Context.IO into their projects, and it wasn’t easy deciding which was most deserving of our prize for the best Context.IO hack.
Ultimately, we selected PushTV as the winners. Michael Li, Raymond Chee, Scott Zheng, Christopher Denny, and Gene Hsu were all part of the winning team. They integrated the API with DIRECTV’s web server so email messages could be displayed on the TV screen. Messages appeared on the top of the screen, much like a text message appears on your phone. Using a motion sensor, the user could either dismiss the message with the wave of a hand or read the whole message with a downward motion.
While the integration of email into such awesome technology was very cool, I was equally impressed with how they used the API to determine which emails to display and which to ignore. They used the contacts resource to tally which people you interact with the most via email and then parsed the subject lines of those emails to create a personalized list of keywords to look for when new messages arrive. In doing this, they created an algorithm that decides which messages are important enough to be displayed onscreen. Very clever!
While the PushTV team took home our prize, we want to give special recognition to the VR Dashboard team (Carlos A. Alaniz, German Zuniga, Dustin Torres, Jacob Figueroa, Casey Richardson). They used the Context.IO API to display live email data in a virtual reality headset. When wearing the headset, you got a 360-degree view of everything you needed to start the day – weather, important emails, top news items, etc. It was a great use of not only our API but also the virtual reality technology.