At the end of the second, and final, day of London’s TV Hackfest the all-important results have been announced. With a multitude of international competitors, and a total of 14 finished entries, competition was undeniably fierce. There were three main prizes available, each with £500 attached, along with several awards offered for the best use of specific APIs, with prizes including £1,000 awards and potentially lucrative contracts.
Best overall hack: Telly Love
Best design: Social Cuts
Best commercial: Quizzle
Best use of the FilmOn API: StreamBuzz
Best SmartPay billing solution: Streambuzz, Great British Quiz
Best use of the Zeebox API: Wait For Me
Best use of the Brightcove API: Social Cuts
Smart TV Alliance award: Great British Quiz
Best use of the Gracenote API: Telly Love, Streambuzz
Telly Love, the big winner, envisioned a dating app built around shared TV tastes, connecting single people together to chat via text or video while they watched their favourite shows. One of the other big winners, StreamBuzz, envisioned live TV streams accompanied by Twitter feeds, buzz graphs, and metadata and purchasing info for soundtracks and merchandise linked to shows. FilmOn Networks CEO Alki David praised the app’s use of the FilmOn API, calling it a “simple, clever, functioning app that was ready to go and was exciting,” going on to offer the team a contract to develop the app in full. (TVmix is owned and operated by FilmOn.)
If there was one clear theme across today’s entrants, it was clearly the growing importance of second screen technology. Almost every single hack took advantage of smartphones and tablets to display metadata, provide interactive games, or provide a feed of social media interaction. Social media was almost as universally used, with hacks such as Social Cuts using social info to suggest viewing material, and TV Together and Watch This allowing people to jump into synchronous streams with their friends. There was a relatively low-key hack by a team from the BBC that could provide second-screen subtitles in a variety of languages, while the idea deemed the most commercially viable by the judges was Quizzle, which created an interactive quiz game to increase engagement with adverts.
It wasn’t all good news, though. I caught up with Johann from ZapAds, one of the teams I’d spoken to yesterday (read yesterday’s article here). They’d continued to struggle with the technical challenges of their plan, and ultimately failed to complete their hack, ultimately opting to give a simple verbal presentation outlining what their initial idea had been. Johann was surprisingly upbeat, despite the disappointment, explaining that this was his fourth hackathon, with another in line next week. Technical struggles were just part of the experience, he said, and he was looking forward to his next event. If other developers share Johann’s enthusiasm for innovation then setbacks like his shouldn’t stop the future of TV from being very bright indeed.
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