Hack Upstate VIII: The Results Are In

Sincerest thanks to all involved with Hack Upstate VIII this past weekend. It was a tremendous thrill to see so many talented Upstate New York STEM students, practitioners and hobbyists come together, collaborate, build, break and learn. The creativity was inspiring and the level of execution was exceptional.

We encourage you to check out all twenty projects on Hack Assist and take a look at the gallery on Facebook (sincerest thanks to Daniel Viau for providing his photography services).

Grand Prize

The Grand Prize went to Robert Grazioli and Augustine Cost for their project, Red Light Bell. Red Light Bell is a simple device that fits in the form factor of a hotel bell. When a driver approaches a stoplight, their device — placed on the dashboard — begins watching the light. Their algorithm then determines when the light turns green upon which the bell dings. Here’s a quick video demo:

The judges were particularly impressed with the team’s creativity, and their ability to successfully execute upon such a multidisciplinary project over the course of just 24 hours.

Important Note from Robert and Augustine:

“THIS IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR SAFE DRIVING! ALWAYS KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ROAD!” :)

First Runner Up

The First Runner-Up prize went to Stephen Shaffer for his Facebook Messenger app, Scout. Inspired by the Syracuse Roads Data Challenge, Stephen built a tool that makes it incredibly easy for CNY residents to report the locations of potholes via Facebook Messenger. Stephen then overlaid the City of Syracuse’s “Potholes Filled” dataset with the locations of potholes reported using his Scout application.

The judges were impressed with the project’s utility, and the way in which the Scout app paired community engagement with the open data set provided by the City of Syracuse.

In addition to the Grand Prize and First Runner Up, there were also two sponsor prizes as well.

Euphony API Prize

This year Hack Upstate participants were fortunate to explore a brand new text-to-speech API, Euphony.

The Euphony API makes it incredibly easy for developers to incorporate emotionally driven text-to speech into their applications. With Euphony’s collection of unique voices, developers have the flexibility to manipulate the emotion and manner (e.g., “happy”, “sad”, “angry”, “whisper”, etc) in which text is delivered as speech.

A team of RPI students comprised of Lucas Volle, Lucien Brule and Garret Premo dove into the Euphony API and built Summary to Speech, a Chrome Extension that expedites the process of reading long-form content.

According to the team:

Too long; didn’t read? Summary to Speech (STS) makes ‘reading’ long passages a breeze! Copy and paste a long article into our chrome extension (or select some text & right click) and STS will read you a shortened summary aloud.

Written in AngularJS, their application combines the power of the SMMRY text summarizer and Euphony’s API. Additionally, they assembled a clean user interface styled using Google’s Material design guidelines.

Fuz Eller, Euphony’s founder & CEO, was particularly impressed with the project’s creativity and the team’s ability to provide an informative demo.

MongoDB Prize

Last but not least, MongoDB’s very own Peter Gravelle joined us this weekend and awarded the best use of MongoDB to MyCart.

MyCart, an innovative point of sale solution, allows consumers and vendors to take pictures of bar codes and automatically populate their shopping carts on the fly.

MyCart was developed by Declan Hopkins and Arthur DeAraujo, undergraduate Computer Science students from the University of Buffalo.


With another Hack Upstate in the books, we’d be remiss if we didn’t take one last opportunity to thank all of our incredibly generous and supportive sponsors. We’re extremely fortunate to have their backing as we collectively work together and continue to advance Upstate New York’s technology community.

See you in the spring!


Anxious for next spring’s event? Fight the withdrawal by joining the Hack Upstate community on Slack.

Hack Upstate’s mission is to unite and facilitate collaboration among the greater Upstate New York technology community. In pursuit, we organize hackathons, offer web and mobile development classes, facilitate talks and lectures, and ultimately help align Upstate tech talent with promising employment opportunities. To date, we’ve built a growing network comprised of thousands of Upstate New York engineers and nearly a hundred technology employers.