Hey there, Anam reporting for WearHacks on our latest adventure! On the cloudy morning of October the 7th we packed up our Hardware Lab here in Toronto, threw on our onesies, and embarked on the inevitably difficult journey across the border (I really should have walked straight into U.S. Customs and Border Protection office, would have saved everyone the energy of pulling me off my flight – who wouldn’t be speculative of 2 huge luggages of hardware tech?) to the cosy city of Amherst, Massachusetts. Here at WearHacks we are no strangers to hackathons, but HackUMass’ fourth annual hackathon was definitely one to behold and definitely worth the trip! With over 600 attendees checked in, the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus’ beautiful Integrated Learning Center was buzzing and blinking with energy all weekend.
To kick off the weekend, all 600+ hackers packed into a hall (3 parts excitement, 2.5 parts amazement, and only 0.5 part claustrophobic!) to learn about the awesome partners and sponsors that joined us for the weekend – including crazy biosensing headsets, social robots, and tons of hardware, VR, and wearable tech (that was my favourite part – might be a little biased, though…). After all was said and done, the most notable accomplishment of the team was the sheer amount of resources available to the hackers. From a plethora of 3D printers to visual recognition AI’s, HackUMass was every hacker (and Iron Man)’s dream!
The weekend kept the hackers entertained and energized throughout, between late night smash tournaments, boasting the best campus dining in the US (the Blue Wall felt far too luxury to be a student dining hall), and midnight yoga, there was a place for everyone to take healthy breaks from their projects. Our Hardware Lab was buzzing with interest around our Myo bands, Zeiss VR headsets, and everything in between! It was awesome getting to meet (and eat!) with so many cool hackers and hearing about their experiences over the weekend.
And before I knew it, it was time for demos! Hackers wrapped up their Soylent, cleaned up their day-three-in-the-wild looks, and put on their demo faces. Some of my personal favourites included the machine learning Pretentious Poet, the scale model of an excavator, and the Myo band controlled robotic claw! It was so exciting to see so many first time hackers designing, building, and 3D printing their first ever hacks, and listening to their enthusiasm and drive to attend even more in the future.
All in all, it was clear this was an event for out-of-the-box thinkers, creative hackers, and world innovators (Tony would be proud).
I had a blast at HackUMass IV, and formally send out a huge enormous congratulations to the team for such a successful event! Thanks for inviting us to join you at HackUMass.
Stay tuned for our next mission, we can’t wait to show you what’s next for WearHacks. 😉