It was quite the scene last night at io/LA, a new incubator and work-share space in the heart of Hollywood. Row upon row of tired young male programmers, putting the finishing touches on 48-hour works of wonder and then presenting their proofs-of-concept in front of a panel of well-qualified startup industry judges. All part of the close of the second annual installment of Hollywod Hack Day.
While visiting (and co-sponsor ineligible) east coast Tumblr programmer John Bunting got the crowd all worked up at one point with his hilarious Dancing Party Gifs, which strung together select motion grabs to a thumping soundtrack, the grand prize winner was Travis Chen with the clever game Typing Karaoke. Instead of belting out the words, users test their typing skills by trying to keep up on the keyboard and follow-along screen with song lyrics. Warning: “Call Me Maybe” is not for the faint of QWERTY heart.
Hollywood Hack Day is the brainchild of music manager Ryan Chisholm and his tech worker pals Rahim Sonawalla and Abe Burns. For his efforts, Chen won $2,000, determined by a panel of judges that included Start Engine CEO Howard Marks and Eliot Sakhartov, director of technology for Shine America.
The range of ideas was inspiring, everything from a pathway for people outside a bar to select and tag the music playing (Social Jukebox) to a playful rainfall simulation powered by cell phone callers in the room uttering split-second sound effects (Call Drops). This being a gang of over-caffeinated coding geeks, it didn’t take long for one of the drops during that particular presentation to hit the ground to the sound of “penis.”