Hackers, coders, and clever people gathered on a beautiful weekend at Hill Holiday‘s well-appointed, high-rise headquarters in downtown Boston for TVnext Hack, a weekend-long competition to build the neatest television stuff out of a APIs from ESPN, Gracenote, GetGlue, The Echo Nest (which publishes Evolver.fm), Ramp, WatchWith, and Viggle.
This being a television hack day, not every app was related to music, the way they are at music hack days, but there was still plenty of interest to listeners, especially if they like to watch the boob tube.
Here’s every music app from TVnext Hack, with the winners in bold text, as well as a short write-up about what each app does:
Best Use of Music or Video
- Affini.TV: This free web app works on any mobile device, computer, or set-top box that can handle HTML5, which can personalize any television programming to the taste of the individual user, while letting them use their smartphone as a remote control.The demo version works with YouTube videos harvested from Reddit.
- SoundTracker: This hack wasn’t at the stage where it could be demonstrated, but from the sound of things, it lets you find more music like whatever’s playing as the background of whatever you’re watching on television.
- TV Time (Best Use of Music or Video; Univision prize, Klout third prize; TMS prize; Gracenote prize; Mashery prize): Designed by a father for his son, TV Time lets children earn points in order to watch television shows by answering math questions and engaging in other educational activities. Parents can decide how many points they need to unlock a show, add their own questions, and even get a report card about which shows the kid watched, and what answers they gave in order to unlock it.
Best Use of Stats, News, or Information
- Sports Shopping Network: If you’re watching, say, a Knicks vs. Celtics game, this app can sell you related products. Examples included a Celtics backpack, a Knicks tumbler, and some handsome Knicks curtains.
- Memestream: This app lets you watch viral videos by searching the known meme-iverse by keyword. Apparently, it can also do stuff like replace ads with dancing bananas.
- Smalltalkr (Best Use of Stats, News, or Information; Klout second prize; Mashery prize): Designed for people who don’t know anything about sports, this second-screen mobile app finds out what announcers are saying about the game you’re watching using the closed-captioning data, then mines Twitter and the news to present you with clever things to say to your sportsfan friends, even if you don’t know anything about sports. It can even define terms like “rebound,” so that you don’t embarrass yourself.
- The Curation Station: This web app lets you find music that would fit into any television show. It was designed for professional music supervisors, but would also work fine for people who want a weird, interesting new way to find music: based on their favorite television shows.
- Clutch Rating: A new sports rating, this one determines how well players perform in “clutch” scenarios, like when a football is going for it on fourth down, or the game is otherwise on the line.
Best Use of Sync-to-Broadcast
- Animal Anyfari (GetGlue second prize): Designed by a father to help his kid learn about animals, this app lets people click on various beasts to learn about their habits.
- Twivo (Grand Prize Winner [4/29 Update]; Best Use of Sync-to-Broadcast; Klout 1st prize; Mashery prize): Designed by a 17-year-old girl who said she is “always” second-screening, this app asks you to enter the show you’re watching on your DVR, and then blocks all references to that show from your Twitter feed. It’s better than a spoiler alert — it’s spoiler prevention.
- Fanz: This second screen app shows real-time scores, stats, and descriptions from whatever game you’re watching. You can pick your team, then tap Cheer, Laugh, Boo, or WTF to express how you feel with the rest of the community.
- Top 10 Things for Show Fans: We are trying to work out what this one did and hope to have an update soon. The name isn’t jogging our memory.
Best Use of Play Along, Check-In/Loyalty
- Telebet (Best Use of Play Along, Check-In/Loyalty; GetGlue first prize): Designed by a bunch of guys who live together but have different schedules, this one lets you place wagers using Viggle points on what’s going to happen in television shows. Your friends can watch at their own leisure, with each bet appearing as they make it to that part in the show.
- Rinkd: “We like drinking and we like watching sports,” said this team, and this app helps with both. Sign in with Twitter, and it scan what announcers are talking about in the game you’re watching, then generates trivia questions. If you answer wrong, you drink.
- Who Am I (Best Use of Multiple APIs; TMS prize; Zencoder prize): Like a “video draw something,” this app asks the user to impersonate their favorite television questions in a video. Then, players guess which character the person was trying to be from a variety of choices.
- Earbug.tv (Gracenote prize): Designed to help people learn languages by watching TV, this app uses Google Translate to generate vocabulary questions about the show you are watching, in real time. It uses the second screen, so you can’t get distracted from your “lesson.”
Photo: Eliot Van Buskirk