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UCLA Hosts Student Hackathon with Olympic Buzz

Re-envisioning how people might experience the 2024 Olympic Games was a major theme at a recent student hackathon in Southern California.

The third-annual LA Hacks, organized by two students at the University of California Los Angeles, brought together a thousand high school and college students from the United States and beyond to UCLA's Pauley Pavilion for a weekend of building whatever technology their teams wanted to undertake. Admission was free and came with food, t-shirts, professionals as mentors, speakers and prizes. The Olympics was a focus because LA is pursuing host-city status for the 2024 games.

The top prize in the sports entertainment category went to three UCLA students who came up with a social experience scheme that aggregated live data from game watchers to bring them together virtually based on shared interests. The hackers' goal with the project was to increase participation among viewers during the Olympics.

The runner-up title in that category was a team that used wristband technology to measure the wearer's heart rates during an Olympic event and then display "the excitement of the crowd" by lighting up seats with different colors corresponding to how excited they were.

Other prizes went to hacks that best addressed privacy and security, that best used wireless communication technology, that made the best use of Microsoft technology or that best used Disney's Marvel API, among other segments. A total of 90 programs have been posted to the LA Hacks devpost website.

"As an Olympic superfan with a keen interest in seeing the games engage my generation, it was a privilege to partner with LA 2024 for LA Hacks 2016," said UCLA junior Ashvin Vinodh, a computer science major and the executive director of LA Hacks, in a prepared statement. "LA Hacks is all about providing students with the resources they need to push their minds to the limit and build something amazing."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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