TV a Prominent Target at LA Hacks

LA Hacks
Over this past weekend, from April 3-5 at the Edwin W. Pauley Pavilion at UCLA, the third annual LA Hacks event took place. Around 1,500 students attended what has been previously described by the founder as the “biggest hackathon in history.”

Numerous teams of up to four members gathered to participate in a computer programming competition where the only limit was imagination. Various sponsors, including Microsoft, Tinder and Mashery, supplied APIs for the contest.

The big winner was the “mind-controlled Mercedes” – which received a grand prize of $5,000 from Snapchat. However, television was also a key focus of many attendees. Here are several of the “hacks” devised by those with an interest in the future of TV.

These developers used SmartThings, DirecTV and Leap Motion APIs to come up with an immersive viewing experience to be shared with others. Through the usage of Phillips Hue lighting and temperature controls, scenes displayed on the television screen are recreated in the same room.

Additionally, facial tracking lets you see the live reactions of other people you are viewing with right on the TV, and gesture controls can be accessed for pausing, playing, etc.

They suggested the example of the Academy Award-winning Disney movie “Frozen”:

“As the scenes change to the icy kingdom, SmarTV controls your Phillips Hue lights to match the cool blue of the Frozen scenery, and your Nest thermostat to adjust the temperature to a chilly 60.”

The Direct Health application for iOS is an attempt to “[encourage] health and wellness while still enjoying entertainment” by providing fitness notifications on the TV. The viewer can choose a type of workout on their iPhone, and depending on what’s being watched, will receive alerts on their television as to when to become active.


This team of three students utilized DirecTV and Spylight APIs to develop an HTML5 app that allows the viewer to purchase various fashion items from television programs and films.

A photo posted by Frédéric Harper (@fredericharper) on


The Seamless team invented an Android app that projects notifications (a new e-mail, message, etc.) from one’s phone directly onto the TV. Essentially, there’s no need for constant second-screen monitoring, as the alert is now right in front of you.

Seamless also lets the user tap their phone like a remote control and display show-related trivia and tweets.


This imaginative development provides for the ultimate in vegging out. Gesture controls allow television volume and channel-changing to take place via hand movement, while messages can be replied to with speech-to-text functionality.

Couch Potato
Couch Potato

Author: Brian Cameron

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