The Legend of Hero Hacks (vol. 1)

My name is Marco Chiang and I am a die-hard fan of wearable technology. Mind controllers, shooting beams from your hands, super strength, super speed, and super intelligence. It wasn’t long before I combined two of my passions: wearable tech + hackathons.

This story doesn’t begin on another planet or a galaxy far, far away for that matter. The Legend of Hero Hacks begins in the heart of Silicon Valley where heroes are made, not born.

The April air was cool as I exited the airplane. Energy was infused with the San Francisco winds, invigorating my spirits. A huge contrast from the usual humidity from back east, which saturated my clothes and slowed me down. Stanford’s annual entrepreneur bootcamp called upon me and so I took a few days off from school to check it out.

On the second day of the trip I set foot into Hero City, a grand coworking space decorated with a Tesla car as a reception desk, a Boeing airplane engine as a round table, and super hero phone booths for private phone calls — it was the epitome of inspiration. Located in San Mateo, CA, this haven for super heroes aimed to encourage today’s entrepreneurs to take risks in the hopes of overcoming insurmountable feats.

The origins of my heroic spirit can be traced to this moment of discovery. There are incredible places where impressive people of all backgrounds gather together to solve problems and create what had not been created before.

I set out to recreate my own haven for heroes and wearable technology. Comic book heroes like Batman and Iron Man use tech to overcome their physical limitations and so can we. There is so much untapped potential in the realm of wearable technology making it the best time to be working with it because everyone thinks we’re crazy.

Hero Hacks wasn’t created to recruit heroes for their super powers or to force heroes to solve our problems. We wanted to bring the best tools and gadgets to the table so our hero hackers could solve their own problems and discover their own ideas. Wearable tech is the future. It will give us the power to see, hear, feel and control what we could not before.

Jean Grey using telekinesis to control objects
Hero Hacker using the Myo Armband to control objects @HeroHacks

The quality of the hackers and the projects created in just 24 hours blew me away. Few slept and the sleepers slept little.

Heroes created a sign language translator using the Myo Band to translate American pseudo-sign-language to text to allow handicapped individuals to communicate with others.

Heroes created a visual detection platform using the Oculus Rift and a head-mount camera to pin point individuals in large crowds. They could potentially use the tech to spot suspects by the color of their clothing and then use facial recognition software to identify potential perpetrators.

Heroes created a personal assistant on their Pebble smart watch to make sure you’re never late for anything.

Other amazing projects from the event can be seen here.

Above is a recap video of Hero Hacks, which took place in Wearable World - a startup incubator for wearable tech companies.

The Hero Hacks organizing team overcame a lot of obstacles to successfully put on the event in such a short time and essentially on no budget. Our experiences can surely help the next generation of hackathon organizers and I would be more than happy to share them in a next post upon request.

‘Till next time, heroes. Continue creating your own futures!

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