PennApps XII: "World's largest student hackathon" grew even bigger

(Image Credit: PennApps Twitter)

Student hackathon PennApps has now held twelve successful events, and over that period has grown to become one of the world's largest hackathons. Hackfest reported last week the event over the Labor Day weekend of September 4th – 6th was set to be the biggest yet – and it didn't let us down. 

Over 1,500 hackers took part at the hackathon's new home in the Wells Fargo Center; with all participants from local schools and colleges having their applications to join the event automatically-granted for the first time under the organisers' plan to encourage involvement and grow the community. 

In order to grow the event, PennApps looked towards its huge roster of sponsors which included; Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, CapitalOne, American Express, Uber, Airbnb, EA, IBM, Epic, Pebble, eBay, Nest, Twilio, and loads more.

The project will help to make better decisions when it comes to medical care.

Perhaps the most important sponsor for PennApps and its attendees, however, was Comcast who covered the cost of hiring the Wells Fargo center for the weekend. Comcast is opening a huge new skyscraper in Philadelphia – where PennApps is located – which has 50 floors of space dedicated to R&D the company is sure to want to fill with local talent. 

Over $63,000 worth of prizes were up-for-grabs during the event, the complete list of winners could take longer than you or I have so we'll break-down some of the more notable projects... 

The grand prize included a trip to Facebook's headquarters and went to the '5th Sense' team who developed hardware for the visually-impaired. Their device uses six buttons to allow individuals to input braille to a smartphone-compatible app that can function as a personal assistant and also receive texts and other messages in braille through vibrations. The device also has a distance sensor attached so the user doesn’t need a cane, but can tell where objects are through vibrations instead. 

5th Sense is an example of just one life-changing innovation created at PennApps; another was a set of googles which could identify concussion symptoms through just analysing someone's eyes. The project will help to make better decisions when it comes to medical care. 

Of course not all the projects were serious, and some were just plain fun. Take for example a Chrome extension which replaces certain keywords in news articles with Game of Thrones references – that's something even the white walkers could enjoy. 

For more information about PennApps and next year's events, head to their website. 

Did you attend PennApps XII? Share your experience in the comments below.

Leave a comment


This will only be used to quickly provide signup information and will not allow us to post to your account or appear on your timeline.