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Rocket Science

Every year, mobile-development firm Bottle Rocket does what sounds at first like some sort of reality show: The Dallas-based company hosts a 24-hour hackathon. Teams from every discipline of the company, including engineering, quality assurance, finance, and business development, gather to brainstorm, collaborate, and implement ideas for projects that reach beyond the scope of its normal client work. Energy drinks and a steady stream of snacks, not to mention a 2 a.m. taco run, fuel the Rocketeers through the night. After a full calendar day, the sleepy but passionate and enthused group of makers presents and votes on the projects.

What could possibly come out of such an event?

For starters, one group this year built a peer-challenge fitness app that allows users to challenge each other to a race, a burpee challenge, or any number of other customized contests.

Others followed even more playful instincts. One team ordered a Philips Hue starter kit—a set of smart light bulbs—to fiddle with the system’s capabilities and explore the product’s potential. The result: an app that allows to the user to turn lights on and off by voice, and to preset colors for different moods. Another team built 24 mini-games in the 24 hours. And yet another built a fully functional, app-enabled “kegerator”—a device that not only dispenses two half-barrel kegs of beer while giving off a light show, it also provides the user with metadata on the beer being dispensed and gamifies the pouring with a flow meter and leaderboard.

But the overall winner of the hackathon had nobler ambitions. On team was formed to do some good after hearing Dr. Rupal Patel of Northeastern University deliver a talk on her foundation, VocaliD. That organization works on behalf of people who need devices to communicate; the idea is to literally provide them with a voice by combining patterns from a patient’s vocal cords with a donor’s pre-recorded voice.
At the time of Patel’s presentation, VocaliD had 17,000 people signed up to donate their voices, but no easy way to connect them with people in need. It needed a databank for collecting donated recordings or a dedicated platform from which to funnel the donations. Osburn and his team of designers, developers, and quality-assurance experts worked to build an app that lets users read, record, and upload over 1,000 sentences to donate to VocaliD.

For providing a tool that carries the potential to improve the lives of millions of voiceless people, their effort—the Human Voicebank—won the Rocket Science overall prize for “Magnificent Success.”

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Rocket Science

  1. 1. What do you get when you add up 24 hours, over 180 rocketeers, and countless energy drinks? :7 ROCKET SCIENCE E ((1% bottle rocket Starting at noon on Thursday, Rocketeers from every discipline of the company came together to brainstorm, collaborate, and implement ideas for personal projects that reach beyond the scope of our regular [and not-so-regular] workdays.
  2. 2. /4‘ I‘ r il I 1 . «.. l.I IRIETER Altimeter allows employees to anonymously log their morale at the end of the day as well as make suggestions to company leadership. Users can create suggestion topics and vote on suggestions they agree with. bottle rocket
  3. 3. The majority of Bottle Rocket's office walls are white— boards and often, Rocketeers are not sure if they can erase meeting notes. DNE [Do Not Erase] is an app that allows us upload pictures of office whiteboards for safekeeping of information. Based on a user's proximity to a room-specific BLE [Bluetooth Low Energy] beacon, the app allows the user to save pictures to an image- bank. In short, we are creating a visual history of a physical space. rm . .. . A azoom ? :'Kl_li Andromeda ieda 9% bottle rocket l I once 6‘ 3:00 PM I 4» we I . (, l I‘ l ‘V, I
  4. 4. ii. .LifA, .. Z20£a9‘Z87£w Rocketeers went to work designing and building a fully functional app enabled kegerator within twenty four hours. The finished product not only dispenses two half barrel kegs of beer [while giving off a light show]. but also gives the user metadata on the beer being dispensed. This wifi connected keggerator identifies the person pouring the beer and gamifies the experience with a leaderboard and/ flowmeter. i 4! , V bottle rocket fl.
  5. 5. Team Hot Flag came together to form an impromptu jam band [with a tongue—in—cheek reference to punk band Black Flag]. Hot Flag's aesthetic was based/0'/ nf the classic American hot dog. Art Director Simon Stipp led the project Jbnd shared: "We wanted to create a band alongrwithla fun app that played its music. What we'rerea[ly after is stardom. "
  6. 6. Ll “I, V _ . _i 4.3‘ . '_'iIL>wr" W F‘ 4 -» Team Picogames tasked themselves with building 24 colorful minigames in 24 hours. Instead. they churned out 48 individual Picogames. The games reflect the culture at Bottle Rocket with objectives like picking a charity of out of a basket, dodging NERF darts. and arranging parts of a Stormtrooper costume on our Founder and CEO Calvin Carter. ‘C ‘I W bottle rocket"
  7. 7. THE HUMAN VOICEBANK Jason Osburn, Director of UX/ Product Innovation for AWE, was inspired to pull his team together after hearing Dr. Rupal Patel of Northeastern University deliver a talk on her foundation VocaliD. Patel's . . . . . iwoen him and aiween him and goal with VocaliD is to provide those with ‘V beach was the 6 beach was the severe speech impairments the chance negrass fence megrass fence to sound like themselves again [or for W ' me C0mD0U”d- the ‘30mP0U”d~ the first time]. By combining patterns from the host's own vocal cords and speech elements from the donated recordings, VocaliD develops a unique vocal identity for applicants. Osburn and his team of designers, developers, and quality assurance experts worked to build an app that lets users read, record, and upload over 1,000 sentences to donate to VocaliD. bottle rocket
  8. 8. botfle rocket Move is a peer-challenge fitness app that inspires you to get your blood pumping during the workday. At any time, users can challenge each other to a race, burpee-challenge, or any number of customized contests. Winners earn badges and gain rankings on peer leaderboards. NEW CHALLENGE CHALLENGES PICK A PERSON . .. A,, ,,. 0 (Q) JUNO MOMENT JUNO MOMENT Robert M Li / iClOH'a i. » J . :p. . mi . i if Hi -mi
  9. 9. Q Hue , Team Hue worked on an app to give users the power to control a Philips Hue Lighting System with their voice. With Hue, users can build custom colored lighting mixes, choose from an array of premade 4"‘ selections, or create a lightshow — all with simple voice commands. ' ' ‘" It also lets you adjust intensity, customize your lighting rig, and L schedule different lighting times. , »«- i‘ i :55} Halli: xi . '$. ..* 1, _ _ _ 1 DHILIPS “' V ! >i<1iLii>s , ‘ i ’ , , ll _ ~«a L~ .2 I I I - r%7———— j— — e 4 ; z. . 6 , fr 311, if % . s=, _.. %%~ 1 bottle rocket‘
  10. 10. .. f . “ ‘V s ‘at , 3 <. nu. EYE 0 F SM] 0 employees find each other within an office space. EoS areas of the office throughout the day. Eye of Sauron uses beacons and pings off WiFi to help has real-world applications for M/ orkspaces similar to Bottle Rocket where employees work from different bottle rocket
  11. 11. rm/ tvcrafly Almost all Rocketeers use Path — a social media app with the standard trappings: picture, music, and text sharing. One Rocket Science team, however, wanted something different and came up with Trajectory — a social media app for all Rocketeers without the limitations of Path. 7’ I Q17/bottle rocket