In October 2015, on the heels of four successful public hackathons, Media Labs hosted the company’s very first internal hackathon for employees.
During its first year as a new division of NBCUniversal, Media Labs created and instituted regular hackathons as a means for rapid innovation for the company. In October, on the heels of four successful public hackathons, Media Labs hosted the company’s very first internal hackathon for Comcast and NBCUniversal employees. The hackathon was held over a weekend at The Comcast Building at 30 Rockefeller Center. Participants represented various divisions within the company, including Technology & Product Development at Comcast and Digital Media at NBC Sports Group. Some of the hackathon teams even included members that spanned business units in pursuit of common goals.
During the hackathon, teams participated in either or both of two challenges: The Crowdsourced Comedy Genome challenge invited teams to use existing technology to find ways to make content recommendations to users better. The Next Generation Advertising challenge invited teams to find new ways to reach consumers through ads.
Team Eclipse (Justin LaRose, Chris Loringer, Brad Hein, Priya Bagchi, Peter Flanner, Thomas Carroll, and Arudra Venkat, all from Technology and Product Development at Comcast) won the hackathon’s overall grand prize and one of the prizes in the Crowdsourced Comedy Genome category. The team created “Eclipse,” a metadata tool that allows users to share annotations while watching their favorite programs. (Think Genius.com, but for sitcoms.) Users can instantly share their annotations and edit metadata using any browser-enabled device or Xfinity’s X1 platform.
Snap, a system that allows users to add tags to videos and view those tags during playback, took home the other prize in that category. Tao Lei and Charlie Han, from Technology and Product Development at Comcast, Milena Markova and Jeff Myers from Media Labs at NBCUniversal, and Dante Gutierrez and Mark Schulterbrandt from Digital Media at NBC Sports Group, were all members of team Snap.
The cheekily named Straight Outta Comcast crew took home one of the prizes in the Next Generation Advertising challenge. The team created a shoppable advertising experience that puts consumers in the middle of scenes from their favorite shows or movies, letting them shop the products and services featured in those scenes. Team members included Leslie Chapman, Leemay Nassery, Barry McMillan, and Austin Wells, all from the Technology and Product Development division.
Sam Harrell from Media Labs took home the other Next Generation Advertising prize. Sam’s InScene creates customized ads directly within content a user is viewing.
Like other technology companies, Comcast and NBCUniversal use hackathons to encourage collaboration while developing extraordinary new features for customers. Not every hackathon project makes it all the way to production, but don’t be surprised if you see many of these teams’ innovations in future product releases. Several prototypes presented during our public hackathons have already been developed and introduced to the market.
The next NBCUniversal Hackathon will take place in Silicon Valley from March 5 to 6. More than $10,000 is up for grabs in prizes!