Hack Upstate XI: The Results Are In

Hack Upstate
6 min readApr 18, 2018


Hack Upstate’s mission is to advance Upstate NY’s technology community.

Images courtesy of Daniel Viau — djviau@gmail.com

Checkout pictures from Hack Upstate XI — Images courtesy of Daniel Viau — djviau@gmail.com

Sincerest thanks to all involved with Hack Upstate XI this past weekend. Once again it was incredible to see so many talented Upstate, NY technologists come together to build, break, and collaborate.

We started Hack Upstate five years ago to address two problems:

  1. Reduce Upstate NY’s talent churn rate. We educate the best and brightest STEM talent in the country. We’re determined to keep them in Upstate, NY.
  2. Facilitate cross-collaboration between the regional tech communities (e.g., Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and the Capital Region).

Here we are 5 years later and we’re proud to say we’ve created a network comprised of thousands of Upstate NY technologists and facilitated dozens of job placements.

Hack Upstate XI, presented by ITX Corp, was one of our largest events to date. Here’s what they built:

Images courtesy of Daniel Viau — djviau@gmail.com

Grand Prize

Every year, thousands of people lose money to telephone scams — from a few dollars to their life savings. Stephen Shaffer, a Hack Upstate veteran, sought to address this problem and built VoCat, a phone fraud protection application.

Images courtesy of Daniel Viau — djviau@gmail.com

Using Twilio’s telephony API, Stephen built an application that triggers alerts mid-call and notifies potential phone fraud victims of suspicious behavior. Once prompted with a notification, the potential phone fraud victim has the option to exit the call and report the suspicious behavior or remain on the call. Stephen’s demo wowed the judges and he walked away with the $1000 Grand Prize.

First Runner-up

The First Runner-up, BookUp, sought to mitigate the financial burden students bear when it comes to buying and selling textbooks. The College Board estimates that the average student in this country spends around $1,200 a year on books. After students are finished with their textbooks, they can then sell them back to the bookstore. However, they can only do so at a fraction of the price. To address this problem, the BookUp team built a platform for students which enables them to sell their textbooks directly to other students and to name their own prices. Winners walked away with $500.

Images courtesy of Daniel Viau — djviau@gmail.com

PUBG Madglory API

This year we were extremely fortunate to have PUBG Madglory join us as a sponsor and offer up some great prizes and swag to the team that submitted the best hack using the PUBG Developer API. The PUBG Developer Portal introduces opportunities for developers to create tools, websites and add-ons that leverage data and APIs from PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.

The team that won the PUBG Madglory API prize, PUBG Stats Display, built an application with Java and Swing that allows players to choose their four favorite items from the game, and provides them with the ability to input their own PUBG username to view their most recent stats from the past 14 days. With this data, a custom image is generated and is saved locally as a .PNG file. The lightweight, easy-to-use tool enables users to generate aesthetically pleasing images that can easily be sent to friends and posted online to showoff a player’s profile.

Buffalo Civic Innovation Challenge

Back in March, Buffalo’s Mayor Byron W. Brown launched his inaugural Mayor’s Civic Innovation Challenge Powered by AT&T, which seeks to create solutions that address social and civic issues that impact City of Buffalo residents. Using Buffalo’s Open Data platform the team behind Buffalo Crime Data built a data visualization tool which geographically depicts where crime is most prevalent throughout the city of Buffalo. The project’s underlying intent is to help provide the city with meaningful information that will help them determine where they should focus their efforts when it comes to combatting crime.

Images courtesy of Daniel Viau — djviau@gmail.com

Best UI/UX

The Best UI/UX prize, provided by ITX Corp, was awarded to GlassCycle. Buying new glasses can be very expensive, so they created a platform to help users buy and sell old frames. GlassCycle provides a very unique and intuitive interface which enables buyers to specify their sizes and their preferences when it comes to purchasing frames.

Images courtesy of Daniel Viau — djviau@gmail.com

GlassCycle also has an important twist. They’re a charity organization that’s working hard to provide new glasses for underprivileged children and teens who just can’t afford them. So whilst buyers enjoy their new glasses, they can also feel good about helping someone else achieve clear vision.

Best Hardware Hack

Last but certainly not least, the team behind the The Digital Bridge to Reality project took home the Best Hardware Hack for their augmented reality application. Using an Activia yogurt box, lots of tape, and some software, they built a box that uses a screen to project light onto an angled piece of plastic. Doing so, coupled with the software they built, allowed for the illusion of 3D holograms that could be displayed in front of viewers. During their demo they showed off 3D holograms of pets (e.g., rabbits), Princess Leia — Help me Obi Wan Kenobi you’re my only hope — and a dragonfly fly they were able to control and manipulate. They built their project using C# and Unity — a cross-platform game engine.

Images courtesy of Daniel Viau — djviau@gmail.com

With another Hack Upstate in the books, we’d be remiss if we didn’t take one last opportunity to thank all of our incredibly generous and supportive sponsors. We also must again thank our awesome panel of judges. We’re extremely fortunate to have their backing as we collectively work together and continue to advance Upstate New York’s technology community.

One last thing — if you attended Hack Upstate XI we would seriously appreciate you taking our Post Event Survey. It helps us improve and understand who is coming to our events. It should only take you 2 minutes.

You can also leave a testimonial if you’d like, and we’ll add it to our website.

See you in the fall!

Enjoy this? You may enjoy reading about projects from Hack Upstate X, HackUpstate IX, Hack Upstate VIII and Hack Upstate VII.



Hack Upstate

Advancing Upstate New York's tech community through events and education. http://hackupstate.com/ && https://careersincode.org/