Image resolution enhancer wins HackMIT

Select hackers previewed Microsoft’s Acer Head-Mounted Display

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Group of students gathering at the company stalls set up in the hacking arena to meet the recruiters and get some free swag.
Mahi Shafiullah–The Tech
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A HackMIT mentor working with a hacker on solving a technical issue.
Mahi Shafiullah–The Tech
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Kyle Vogt, the founder and CEO of Cruise, addresses the hackers gathered at HackMIT.
Mahi Shafiullah–The Tech
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A hacker showing off his hack on 3D images at HackMIT.
Mahi Shafiullah–The Tech
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Hackers waiting for the on-spot registration to open. Due to extreme interest, only fifty hackers were admitted on-spot.
Mahi Shafiullah–The Tech
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Group of hackers late at night working on their project.
Mahi Shafiullah–The Tech
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The opening ceremony of HackMIT, attended by the hackers and the sponsoring companies.
Mahi Shafiullah–The Tech
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Steve Huffman, the CEO of popular internet community reddit, delivering his keynote speech to the hackers gathered at HackMIT.
Mahi Shafiullah–The Tech
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A team working on their hack in the hacking arena.

HackMIT 2017, a 24-hour hackathon for undergraduates from across the world, took place Saturday in the Johnson Athletic Center. The winning project was The Pixelator, a lightweight program to enhance low-resolution pixelated images, followed by runner-up PlotRoomba, a program which uses Wolfram Mathematica inputs to trace out graphs through a Roomba.

The winning team, from MIT, was comprised of Jesse Michel '19, Sushruth Reddy '19, Rikhav Shah '19, and Sandeep Silwal '19.  The runner-up team members were, from outside MIT, Vaibhav Mohanty, Sloan Nietert, Kevin Fei, and Suproteem Sarkar.

A total of 32 prizes were awarded to accommodate different types of hacks developed in what first-time hacker Kushagra Pandya ’19 described to The Tech as a “sleep-deprived, stressful environment.” Around 4500 people registered and 1254 were admitted to the competition.

Microsoft provided ten HoloLens kits and ten Acer Head Mounted Displays (HMDs) for hackers to leverage in their projects. “This year, by student demand we brought back [the HoloLens], and also included the Acer HMDs which are not out yet, giving MIT hackers an early access. We went through 40+ applicants and picked 20, depending on the innovation of the ideas and whether they were technically feasible within a short time frame or not,” Mary Baker, a Microsoft representative, told The Tech.

“We wanted dedicated hackers who knew what to do with [the HoloLens], instead of taking it and then making up their mind,” Adina Shanholtz, another company representative, added. Mentors were available at all times to assist participants with questions regarding both hardwares and softwares.

Pandya’s team was among those selected to use the HoloLens. “It was a great experience,” he said. “Although the HoloLens needs more documentation for the developers to work on.”

Per tradition, there were also multiple talks and sponsor stalls set up throughout the event, which began 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and ended 3 p.m. the next day. “The stalls were very interesting, but they could have been more spread out as there were a lot of crowding in that area,” a member of team TBD told The Tech.

Many hackers also had issues with WiFi connectivity. When asked about this problem, Jason Seibel ’20, a HackMIT organizer manning the Help Desk, told The Tech that it was because not enough IP addresses were allocated for the event. The discrepancy was resolved by IS&T soon after.

Some hackers complained about the talks overlapping with hacking time. Scheduling conflicts hit the HoloLens teams particularly hard: “The teams working with the HoloLens were separated from the main hackathon venue, which undermined the main point of a hackathon — socializing,” Naman Maheshwari, a student from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, told the The Tech. “We also had to miss most of the talks and food too.”

Despite a few glitches, most participants The Tech spoke with said that they would return the next year.

Update 09/22/17: The article was corrected to indicate that Jason Seibel a member of the class of 2020, not 2019.