TreeHacks 2017

Oh TreeHacks you were quite something.

I landed in San Francisco after a 5 hour delay. I tried not to look like a complete foreigner as I struggled to download Uber on my phone to call myself a ride to Stanford University. Obviously, that never works. I ended up having to ask the guy next to me how to work the app.  “What do you mean? It says right there that your driver is already coming. He’s meeting you at Terminal 2”, he answered. I thanked him as I looked up to see the “Terminal 3” sign. Don’t worry though, I ran there just in time and didn’t have to pay for that $5 no show fee (I found out about this later as I messed up another pickup haha). 

I found my way there as I tried to message some people on Slack, looking to join a team. Finding that team was no easy task. I ended up having to embarrassingly make my way to the Team Formation session where I, along with a bunch of what felt like Thanksgiving leftovers tried to gather a team. I ended up finding an amazing team though! I am thankful for all the people who ignored me on Slack because I am so proud of the project we ended up making. 

The first thing we did as a team was to listen to Bei Yang, a Disney Imagineer’s Tech Talk. He was the CMU Legend- Randy Pausch’s student. He talked about his work as a Disney Imagineer and I was touched to see my teammate’s eyes glow as he listened to him. He too, is a design major at Carnegie Mellon and I could feel the passion radiating off of him as he made his way to Bei Yang after his talk.

We ended up grabbing a little room for ourselves as we began hacking. I was in awe of the amazing talent in the room. We had an awesome design major from CMU, a first year student (that’s incredible!) from UCLA and another student who is currently interning in the Bay Area, from the National University of Singapore. We were joined shortly by two guys from Harvard who also had incredibly brilliant minds. It definitely felt intimidating, but also an honour, to work with such amazing students from different programs. After our teammate was chased after by organizers for stealing a box of Krispy Kreme donuts for our room, we began hacking.

The hack itself was something I would have never came up with on my own but hackathons really do trigger innovative ideas. Our idea was to map a 3D video onto a virtual 3D object- a sphere, displayed on a 2D surface. Users can then manipulate the rotation of the video with a Griffin Powermate, and change the axis that it rotates along and the zoom by tracking where their hands are on the controller with a Leap Motion. The input of the hand gestures was analyzed by the Leap Motion through Unity, and was then sent back to our main device with OSC.

It definitely felt bittersweet as we all packed our bags after the demos. However, I will be holding on to my Stanford hoodie as I impatiently wait for TreeHacks 2018.

You can read more about our project here.