LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — More than 1,000 college and high school students from all over the country competed last week in a virtual hackathon.
Participants submitted their final projects along with short demo videos according to four different tracks or themes: COVID-19, Los Angeles, Entertainment and Sustainability.
The winning submission in the COVID-19 track, QRantine App, helps people who need to leave their homes for essential needs keep track of where they have been by saving and displaying check-in timestamps. If the user subsequently tests positive for the novel coronavirus, the app allows them to anonymously report the dates and times of the places they have visited.
The app also displays real-time information from the Los Angeles County Public Health Department on confirmed cases in their neighborhood.
The Los Angeles winner, an app called place.it, uses data from the city to help city planners, architects and citizens analyze the social, environmental and financial impact of a proposed building.
The entertainment track winner was an app called Musick Space that offers a virtual platform that allows musicians to practice alone, rehearse together and perform online.
The sustainability track winner was an app called Group Greenery that creates a new social media network that connects users with local community gardens, gives real-time data on the health of their plans and allows them to collaborate with fellow gardeners.
The competition's overall first place winner was Archiscape, an app that helps city planners, architects and landscape designers automatically convert 2D floor plans into 3D models.
The second place overall winner was Mood for Zoom, a facial-recognition software that helps lecturers, educators and hosts using Zoom to check the general mood of those on a video call.
CheaterBeater, an app that helps hackathons, venture capitalists and tech companies assess if the source code of a project has been copied or used in another application was the third place overall winner.
LA Hacks, an annual student-led hackathon, has been hosted at the University of California, Los Angeles's Pauley Pavilion for the past eight years. But, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the event was held virtually this year — allowing students from across the country to participate.
"An unbelievable amount of good came out of this year's event," Sriram Balachandran, a second-year computer science major at UCLA and one of the co-executive directors of LA Hacks, said in a statement. "In a time when everybody is at home, our LA Hacks team was able to provide a platform for students around the country to make use of their skills and talents for society."
In total, more than 1,000 students developed almost 200 software projects and demos aimed at improving the quality of life in Southern California.
"Despite tremendous changes at home and at school due to the pandemic, students went above and beyond," Andres Cuervo, director of UCLA's Centennial Celebration, said. "Their dedication and collaborative spirit — the sheer potential of their ideas and projects — are an inspiration during these times and a reminder that our next 100 years will be transformed by the optimism and innovative thinking of students."
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