Highlights from #hackharvard

HackHarvard 2013The third annual #hackharvard brought together 17 teams collaborating over 10 days, attending 21 seminars, meeting with 24 mentors, and consuming an undisclosed and no doubt enormous amount of Red Bull and candy.

Today’s demo day was the culmination, with a terrific keynote from Hugo Van Vuuren (serial Harvard alum and Experiment Fund partner) and deft panel moderation by Brent Grinna. But the student #hackharvard projects were of course the main event.

A few takeaways:

  • PlayedBy.me enables guests to insert themselves into the host’s playlist — I can see clear benefit in crowdsourcing music from trusted friends for parties. The single author, standalone playlist feels increasingly dated.
  • Personal mission can lead to smart solutions. One student, inspired by a foster sister with autism, built an app called emotr to improve recognition of facial expressions.
  • Mind your meds keeps it simple and smart — observing that 48% of Americans take prescription medication with varying levels of compliance, and that “medicines don’t work on people who don’t take them,” the founders launched an intuitive service for email and text message reminders.
  • Another basic truth — university students are always hungry — led to Harvard Foodfinder. Finding out which events have food — and how close they are to you right now — could revolutionize campus event attendance in ways that flyers and Facebook events never will.

Committed leadership matters — hats off to Lexi and Zach, as well as aged alums Peter and Hugo, for pulling off the third successful #hackharvard with an interrobang.

Photo credit: Peter Boyce, whose photo I appropriated in a desperate attempt to find a photo without him in it.

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