Thursday, December 15, 2016

Mod the Future Visits the Big Apple: Behind the Scenes at the NYC Hackathon

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What do 53 developers, 18 entrepreneurs, three designers, one surgeon and a dog named Goose have in common? These eager participants (and K9) all gathered this past weekend for over 24 hours at the first Mod the Future Hackathon in New York City in a quest to create a winning Moto Mod concept for the Moto Z.

The outcome was the creation of some truly amazing new Moto Mods concepts. We saw initial ideas for a video paging Mod, a ‘Smart Cart’ retail shopping Mod and an emergency situation response Mod for consumers. We also heard about an insulin level monitoring concept and a water pollution testing Mod. Encouraging participants’ individuality to shine, these concepts speak to the core principles of Moto Mods — continued innovation and unlimited possibilities for consumers. This is the future of mobile in an increasingly stagnant industry.

With teams and participants representing five different countries — from the U.S. and Canada to Brazil, Latvia and Mexico — the ideas presented at the hackathon were as unique and diverse as the participants themselves.

“It’s really exciting to think that I can take a piece of hardware, put it on my device, swap it out for something else and I don’t need an app to do it,” said participant and second place winner Aaron Franco.

24 Hours of Hacking
All of the wires, soldering irons and microscopes aside, hacking isn’t always so simple, especially when the sky truly is the limit.

The room was electric, yet calm and focused all at the same time. Energy drink cans covered tables and participants took quick power naps whenever they could, as teams of beginners and seasoned veterans alike worked to overcome challenges.

At the end of it all, 96 slices of pizza, 96 bagels and 128 energy drinks were consumed. More than 2,400 total man hours were put in, with 17 projects submitted by the deadline from participants ranging in age from 16 to 78. And after 45 minutes of judging, the top three Moto Mods concepts were announced.

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Meet the Three Winning Concepts
“Advanced Audio”Curtis Mason, Andrew Afflitto, Mark Ayad, Abigail Brown and Yousef Alsayid
Using the USB MDK connection, Modio interfaces with a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and analog-to-digital converter (ADC) to provide audio input and output to the smartphone. This concept is hugely beneficial to musicians and audiophiles, giving the Moto Z HiDef audio ports (such as those found in recording studios and expensive speaker systems) that can transmit audio to applicable headphones/speakers in a much higher way than the standard headphone jack.“This is crazy. I didn’t really expect this, but I know we all put in our maximum effort and it came together,” said Andrew Afflitto when they were announced as the winners.

“Sidepad”Gabriel Ortiz and Aaron Franco
While playing games on smartphones is fun, the best gamepads are ones that are bigger than the mobile device and provide a more immersive experience. As a full-featured gamepad concept, Sidepad seeks to provide this enhanced experience for true gamers by adding gaming controls on the Moto Z (buttons versus touchscreen). According to Aaron Franco, it was “totally worth staying up all night.

“Bella”Ally Cheung, Nancy Wan and Sylvee Lee
Bella is a skin care companion for your pocket that provides personal beauty and skincare tips. This concept allows Moto Z to collect real-time data from your skin and surrounding environment using built in sensors that examine factors such as UV levels, air quality, and if aimed at your face, skin elasticity levels.“As modern women, we think it’s useful to be able to monitor our skin and stay youthful. It was such an amazing experience,” said Ally Cheung and Nancy Wan after learning they were in the winners circle.

Next Stop: San Francisco
This is only the beginning — our next hackathon will be in San Francisco on January 21-22. The Grand Prize Winners of both the New York and San Francisco hackathons will receive a team cash prize of $5,000 and a Moto Z and Moto Mods Development Kit per team member. A representative from the winning team will also be invited to Chicago to present their ideas to a panel of Motorola leaders at Motorola’s headquarters and discuss how to bring their idea to market. If the concept impresses Lenovo Capital, they could even receive investment funding. Additionally, winning teams will be entered into the Moto Mods Partner program and be connected with a dedicated Business Development Mentor. Anyone who creates Moto Mod concepts during a hackathon will have the opportunity to participate in the Indiegogo campaign, as well.

For more information or to register for the Mod the Future Hackathon in San Francisco, visit modthefuture.com.

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