Hacking the future at MIT
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Hacking the future at MIT

Here at Samsung NEXT, we’re ultra excited about the future of augmented reality (AR). That’s one reason why we sponsored the Reality Virtually Hackathon at MIT a few weeks ago. The event, which took place over one long weekend, played host to dozens of teams coming together to build interesting new AR and VR applications.

Housed at the MIT Media Lab, the hackathon featured a diversity of attendees both in terms of backgrounds and skills they brought to the table. More than 50 different ethnicities were represented from a dozen different countries around the world. The participant list was 40 percent female, and included a wide variety of developers, designers, audio and video specialists who showed up to form teams and build new apps over the course of three days.

Submissions from the hackathon included applications for designing clothing patterns and helping users to improve their cooking skills, as well as those that match people to the perfect feline companion and teach them how to paint like Bob Ross. Altogether, nearly 70 hacks were submitted after three days of wrangling code by attendees.

For the second year of the hackathon, Samsung NEXT sought out the very best AR apps teams had to offer. With that in mind, we awarded three prizes to hackers building everyday AR applications, and loaned more than a dozen Samsung Note 8 phones that teams could use to build out and test their applications on.

Below you will find the three teams that received Samsung NEXT prize money, but be sure to check out the other winners on the Reality Virtually Hackathon site. You can also peruse submissions from all the different teams that participated here.

First Place – CollaborativeAR

Today most mobile AR applications are built in single-player mode, since current technology doesn’t support shared experiences. To solve that, the CollaborativeAR team built a platform that allows mobile developers and designers to create a new class of AR applications in which multiple collaborators can engage in a shared space. Built by Abby Ayers, Joseph Crotchett, Kenny Friedman, Avery Lamp, and Xiao Ling, this platform could be leveraged by developers in education, collaborative working, and prototyping fields, among others.

Second Place – ARound

While most AR applications are centered on augmenting visual systems, the ARound team saw an opportunity to create an app that augments a user’s sense of hearing. Using spatial audio, the ARound app augments the world with sound and alerts users to places of interest, adding another layer of information to the world around them. Those sounds can be used by the visually impaired to help them navigate and learn about objects in their surrounding area. Built by team members Anandana Kapur, Dhara Bhavsar, Maxym Nesmashny, Sunish Gupta, and Vedant Saran, the application can also provide haptic feedback for users who are both visually and hearing impaired.

Third Place – Luminate

Built by Prayash Thapa, Angela Nguyen, Jesse Litton, and Kaitlyn Irvine, the Luminate app adds a new element to the experience of making a monetary donation online. It does so by allowing anyone to send funds and inspirational messages with a virtual lantern to a geo-tagged fundraising location. By adding an AR layer, recipients in that designated area can explore the lanterns in real-time with their mobile device.

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