The Way Out West Hack Battle 2

The Way Out West Hack Battle 2, a 2 day music hackathon conducted in conjunction with the Way Out West music festival in Gothenburg Sweden shows that when in comes to music hacking, there’s no place like Sweden.  In 24 hours of hacking the 125+ hackers put together a total of 32 hacks.  These hacks were some of the most clever and innovative set of hacks put together at any hackathon.


The SendGrid API workshop (Photo by Andrew Mager)

The hackathon began with short API presentations by companies such as Spotify, Facebook, Sendgrid and The Echo Nest.   When I presented the Echo Nest API, I asked how many folks had  heard of the Echo Nest. There were quite a few who didn’t know anything about the Echo Nest. But at the end of the hackathon I was quite pleased to see that half of the demos used the Echo Nest’s API.  Some of my favorite Echo Nest hacks at the event were:

Music MAP – Music MAP is a Spotify app that lets you explore the world of music using a 3D globe. You can narrow your search down to country or region and filter the searches by genre and year. Looking for blues artists from the 1950s from Mississippi? The Music MAP can help you out.   Music MAP was one of the winners of the Echo Nest Prize.

Lego Rock Raiders  – This team built a Guitar Hero style game that you play by smashing on fruit (yes, real, juicy, sticky, messy fruit) that is connected to your computer (via makeymakey of course).  This team used the Echo Nest API to find the notes and beats used to drive the game. Quite fun and creative.  This hack also won an Echo Nest prize.

Other notable Echo Nest hacks were:

  • intro ninja – similar artists and songs music guessing game – with a really good design
  • beatiful –   an infinite runner game for IOS – it uses Echo Nest analysis data of a song to generate the level.
  • Time Traveling music machine – a music discovery tool that helps you find artist influences. You  enter an artist and a year and go back in time to find that artist’s influences from that time.
  • meshuggafy – a nifty web-based remixing tool
  • SVT Playlist 2.0 – Uses the Echo Nest fingerprinter to identify music in TV shows shows. With this tool you can instantly find when your favorite music was played in your favorite TV show.
  • My – Uses the Echo Nest data to help recommend music based upon your physical activity as determined by a fitbit.
  • hackatune – A very nice looking and simple to use festival app that uses the Echo Nest to find the hotttest songs by festival artists.
  • Autopilot – Get a customised festival schedule based on your social profile on Facebook, Spotify, Last-fm and Songkick. Then you can simply put on the AutoPilot and enjoy the ride!
  • The Saddest Stylophonist – My hack – makes any song sadder and more pathetic by automatically adding a Stylophone accompaniment to the track.
  • Spotify Screensaver 2 – Party Mode  – a Chrome extension that adds a “Party Mode” that shows cover art, song name and Fan Art.

I had a great time at the event. I got to meet some really interesting folks.  I sat next to Jens Nockert for much of the weekend.  Jens is famous for writing audio decoders in Javascript. I hope he works for the Echo Nest some day.  Jens was kind enough to let me tether through his iPhone so I could submit my hack when the local wifi connection to the Internet was getting overloaded.

The Oculus Rift in action

The Oculus Rift in action

I also got to chat with Per-Olov Jernberg.  He brought an Oculus Rift to the hackathon and built a really nifty 3D music explorer with it.  I got my first try with the 3D virtual reality goggles and I was really impressed with it. Quite immersive.  Per-Olov is quite the hacker – he’s been adding  Oculus Rift support to three.js.  I was excited to hear that he’s joined the Spotify team and may be applying some of his considerable hacking skills to improving their API.


Hacking with SendGrid, Chalmers, and Facebook folk at #wowhack2 (Photo by Andrew Mager)

I also met a number of students from Chalmers University – they were a pretty innovative and tech savvy bunch of folks.


Paul Sonkamble giving some opening remarks (Photo by Andrew Mager)

#wowhack2 was a really great hackathon. Thanks to Paul Sonkamble and Andrew Mager for organizing such a cool event. Now for a day or two of exploring the Gothenburg city and countryside. It really is a beautiful part of the world.


A path in the woods on the island of STYRSÖ in the archipelago

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