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A day at HackaNUI -- 'geek heaven'

I stopped by HackaNUI on Saturday and got a chance to see Natural User Interface technology in action -- so interesting! I also got my first look at Caffeine Spaces, a new co-working space with a large area for working, a couple of conference rooms, a campfire room with comfy furniture and a fire on the screen for idea generation, a green room for conducting interviews or filming videos and shows, a future makerspace with 3D printers on the way, and other nooks and crannies to work or collaborate. Here is a guest post from the organizer of HackaNUI, a one-day hackathon held at Caffeine Spaces on June 1. Photos are courtesy of HackNUI or by me. 


By Marc Asselin

HackaNUI-Hack-for-Change-2013-25-300x168So the first HackaNUI has come and gone. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I set out on this adventure. I can tell you now that I am so glad I did. The shear amount of teamwork in putting together this event was awe inspiring. There are so many people that came together to make this a success and I am truly indebted to all of them. With that, here is what went down.

The event started promptly at 8AM. Attendees came from all over South Florida and beyond and were treated to a great breakfast. We did a quick opening presentation, thanked our sponsors and got hackin’.

HackaNUI-Hack-for-Change-2013-5-300x199Throughout the day we had an awesome team of folks blogging, live streaming, taking pictures and video, as well as doing interviews from Brain Candy, The Association for Women in Communications,  and Empower Resources. In addition to that, our venue Caffeine Spaces had a green room where they did interviews.

The attendees were a lively bunch of characters with reps from all over the country. One great group was the Hacker House from Gainesville (some of the team is pictured below). I encourage you to look them up at http://HackerHouse.info. They came down in an RV and brought an awesome Makerbot Replicator 2 3D printer. They were nice enough to print our logo on the printer!


Hackanuiimg11-300x173We started out with about 8 teams of people. Over time that turned into 5 teams that would ultimately present their ideas. Our team of judges ranged from super successful entrepreneurs/investors from CrunchFire Technologies and HoneyTree Holdings to brilliant executives from one of the coolest companies in the area SapientNitro.

Throughout the event, we had amazing displays of tech. Micrsosoft sent us 35 Kinect for Windows cameras! PrimeSense sent us 4 Carmine cameras, and others brought LeapMotion devices and Oculus Rifts! Needless to say it was geek heaven!

So down to the ideas and teams:

Hackanui winnersTeam Name: Airthenticate - Winner (pictured here)

Members: Matt Trask, Dr. Edwin Hernandez, David Rios Ruiz, John Jikku, Matt Heiner, Brandon Roberts

Lanaguage: Javascript, Python and Open NI

Used:  LeapMotion w/ Kinect

Idea: A mid-air signature application for authentication that learns signatures using 4 dimensions, 3 dimensional space and rhythm of a signature as it is written.

Read more about this concept on technology on Edwin Hernandez's blog here: http://edwinhernandez.com/2013/06/02/hackanui-and-airthenticate/


The winning team won 5 Kinect for Windows cameras (each worth about $225). In addition, the team has the opportunity if they wish to pitch to the Miami Innovation Fund for a $20K seed round.

Team Name:  Team Pterodactyl (sub-group of The Hacker House)

Members: Peter, Juanda, Mat

Idea:  The team strove for a new natural user interface for creating two-dimensional and three-dimensional artwork via the Microsoft Kinect and the Processing computer language. A new level of artistic involvement is gained through using one's own body, scanned three-dimensionally by the Kinect Prime Sense sensor, to make audiovisual displays of infinite possibilities. The team plans to continue working on the project and is looking forward to inspiring many a new artistic coder to move and create!

Team Name:  Team 37

Members:  Jeremy & Tony

Used: Oculus Rift w/Kinect

Idea: Rendering self within the 3-d experience of Oculus Rift

Team Name: My H2O

Members:  Katherine Martin, Chris Scott , Yair, Alfonso, Gary Kahn, & Frank Haggar

Idea: As part of National Day of Civic Hacking they used EPA water safety data and a Kinect to create a visualization of that data.

Team Name:  Team Awesome

Members:  Eric, Michael, Jonathon, Trevor

Idea:  The team worked on a proof-of-concept for a natural user interface programming language.  The premise for this project are based on two key points.  One, people will always need to program computers.  Two, it is inevitable that simpler methods for programming computers will be developed.
 The proof-of-concept that was developed during Hackanui utilized the Microsoft Kinect, 3D tracking capabilities as an input interface.  The user uses gesture based commands to declare variables, functions, and other coding constructs.  Due to a steep learning curve, and lack of time, the team was unable to achieve a fully working prototype, but started a solid groundwork that could easily be expanded on.


We want to thank our sponsors, without them this event wouldn’t have happened!
Knight Foundation, Microsoft Kinect for Windows, Empower Resources, CrunchFire Technologies, SapientNitro, mLabs, LiveMetrics, PrimeSense, OpenNI, Association for Women in Communications South Florida Chapter, BrainCandy, SocialChats.net, Howard’s Market, Gourmet Truck Expo, Bella
Nonna Pizzeria
, CoVii, Caffeine Spaces, Mageca.

  For more images of the 2013 event go to http://www.hackanui.com/events/hackanui-2013/images-from-hackanui-2013/

 Next year we hope to make HackaNUI even bigger and better!

Marc-CropMarc Asselin is the founder of mLabs, which specializes in Natural User Interface (NUI) design and development, Immersive Learning, 3D Motion Capture, and art / dance through motion. In addition he is the creator and coordinator of HackaNUI, a first of its kind hackathon dedicated exclusively to Natural User Interface (NUI) technologies, and serves as vice chair for the MIT Enterprise Forum of South Florida.