Innovation and Inclusion Take Center Stage During Hulu’s 2019 Hackathon
by Joe Bentley, SVP of Engineering and Rafael Soltanovich, VP of Software Development
This summer, Hulu’s tech team held its annual Hackathon in Santa Monica and Seattle. More than 100 Hulugans and interns spent 48 hours designing and coding 40 projects that pushed creative and technical boundaries.
In the spirit of the Hackathon, teams worked tirelessly on features that aimed to improve Hulu viewers’ experiences and Hulu employees’ lives, including an enhanced navigation tool for Hulu HQ’s growing campus, a feature that allows co-watching on Hulu, and an eye-controlled remote. Though not all of these features will become part of our product, they all demonstrate Hulu’s commitment to innovation and creativity.
More than a quarter of these projects also addressed the needs of viewers with disabilities. The teams behind these projects were in part inspired by Hulu Hackathon’s Spotlight on Accessibility, the tech team’s major push to encourage inclusive design across the event (and across Hulu).
Let’s take a look at some of the most exciting Hackathon projects Hulugans developed in 2019:
Hulu’s Spotlight on Accessibility award-winner, the Accessibility Auditor, is a tool that web application developers can use to get immediate accessibility feedback. The tool will notify developers should a page not meet contrast ratio thresholds if words are not visible or large enough, and address a whole host of other impediments to inclusive design.
Campfire enables Hulu viewers to watch content together — even if they’re not in the same room — through integrated video and text chat. Campfire guarantees you’ll never have to miss another Handmaid’s Tale watch party again.
Eye Remote for Roku® devices
It’s right there in the title — a conceptual remote that allows you to control Hulu on Roku devices using only your eyes. On top of being incredibly innovative, this conceptual project could have huge potential implications for viewers with reduced mobility.
A team of five Hulu interns developed Hulu Immersion, which syncs Hulu video with IoT (Internet of Things) devices like smart light bulbs, smart thermostats, and smart speakers. The result? An immersive viewing experience that surpasses your TV’s boundaries and includes light, sound, and temperature effects.
A feature that uses facial recognition technology to help viewers identify and discover more about the people they’re watching on Hulu. Viewers click the “Hu’s That?” icon in the Hulu app, which brings up performers’ names and links to their IMDb pages.
Project Chromatism provides color correction settings for Hulu users with color blindness. Located on the settings page, the feature uses a simple visual aid — Hulu’s logo in a circle — to guide users in selecting the colors and level of contrast that are easiest for them to see.
If you’re interested in working on projects like these and powering play at Hulu, see our current job openings here.
Roku is a registered trademark of Roku, Inc. in the U.S. and in other countries. Roku is not affiliated with the Hulu Hackathon and the conceptual eye remote for Roku devices mentioned was developed only for the purposes of the Hackathon.