Apple iPhone development just got a lot cheaper and easier thanks to the winning team at PennAppsX.
The hack, called Fuji, is an Xcode-esque integrated development environment over the web, complete with an iPhone simulator for live testing. Team members were Carnegie Mellon students Maggie Bignell, Joe Doyle, and Avi Romanoff, along with Zach Latta who recently graduated from L.A.’s El Segundo High School.
Fuji’s web site streams from a VNC connection to actual Macintosh hardware which could run on virtual machines, team members explained. It would be ideal for low-income school districts where budgets might cover inexpensive PCs or Chromebooks but nothing suitable for traditional iPhone development, they noted.
Taking second place at the hackathon, held at the University of Pennsylvania, was Magic Board. This project combined a Boosted Board (electric skateboard) with a a Myo gesture armband from Thalmic Labs. That lets riders make the board go forward or backward just by twisting their wrist. Team members were University of Texas / Austin student Niko Lazaris, plus high schoolers Jason Marmon (Byram Hills, Armonk, N.Y.), Rohith Varanasi (South Brunswick, N.J.), and Greg Carlin (Byram Hills, Armonk, N.Y.).
Quitli — described by team members as “Fitbit for shit you’d like to quit” — took third place. It’s a lapel pin that gives feedback and can embarrass you into submission through Facebook posts when you engage in bad habits. Its makers are Kevin Lyman and Alexa Aranjo from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and home-fielder Shankar Rao from Penn.
What else was awesome
Best hardware hack went to a Stanford-led smart kitchen project. A new category, best healthcare hack, went to a patient discharge and collaboration application, running on a Pebble smartwatch, from students at Texas A&M and the University of Waterloo.
“The experience here was amazing,” said Kent State’s Christopher Jones, who worked on a helmet hack designed to stimulate your brain for better performance. “I loved the resources, I loved the mentors,” he said. PennAppsX was Jones’ second hackathon.
Incredible hacks you hopefully didn’t miss included an Occulus Rift / Myo game for Jedi lightsaber training, a spam auto-moderator for Facebook groups, “foodinder” which used a Tinder-like mobile app for finding a good restaurant, and perhaps most useful of all: a way to call a large company and let your smartphone deduce which numbers to press in the IVR, while you wait for the icon to display “call” indicating it found a live person.