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UnifyID at a16z’s Battle of the Hacks

Last weekend, UnifyID was invited to attend Andreessen Horowitz’s 4th annual Battle of the Hacks at their headquarters in Menlo Park—an exclusive hackathon for the organizers of the 14 top university hackathons in North America, ultimately competing for a $25,000 sponsorship from a16z. Grace served as a judge alongside others from companies like Slack, Lyft, and Github, while Andres was a mentor for the event, advising teams on how best to complete their projects!

We’ve sent out people to hackathons before (see our CEO John’s post from HackMIT here) and we continue to do it for a few reasons. First, we’re strong believers in supporting innovation, particularly through mentorship, because it’s the same thing we do at UnifyID. Second, we’re able to meet students and hackers working on incredible projects, which is not only inspiring but shows us the depth and breadth of knowledge in the talent pool for us to hire from. Finally, no matter what hackathon, we have enjoyed ourselves without fail. In fact, Andres even stayed the night at the event (which students said they’d never seen a mentor do!)

The winner of the hackathon was HackMIT, which built a Chrome Extension called Cubic leveraging NLP to provide a timeline (topic history across sites) and proper context (detail or general views on related topics) for any news story. The judging panel was incredibly impressed by the difficulty of the project, adding dimensionality to the content we consume on a daily basis.

Hack the North from UWaterloo was the runner-up: they made a creative visual system called Fable to augment live storytelling. By breaking down voice inputs and pairing them with relevant web images, they constructed a useful supplement to traditional stories.

In 3rd was the Bitcamp team from University of Maryland, College Park. They created Alexagram, an interactive hologram using Alexa. One of the coolest demos by far, their project was able to give Alexa some personality as well as some visual interaction with the user.

You can check out all the submissions here!

All the projects were incredible and the teams were all very impressive. We’re already looking forward to the next one!

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