About the Hackathon

Reality, Virtually Hackathon!
Returning to the MIT Media Lab October 6 – 9, 2017

The Reality Virtually Hackathon is returning to the MIT Media Lab with the same goals as last year: exposing attendees to new ideas, facilitating networking opportunities, and most importantly, exploring new and yet to be discovered applications while fostering interdisciplinary collaboration. Up to four-hundred attendees are targeted to attend the event. Some will be creating their first virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) apps. More experienced attendees will be building new applications and hopefully, they will be creating new ingenious new VR and AR use cases that no one has yet implemented. The Reality, Virtually Hackathon is sponsored by the MIT Media Lab.

Last year, the largest-ever immersive hackathon on virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) attracted sponsors like Samsung, Microsoft, AT&T, Google and HTC VIVE. The 2016 hackathon featured projects from participants in education, healthcare, entertainment and storytelling, commerce and industry, human/social interaction, and many more fields.

A day of skill-building workshops on AR and VR design, development, and platforms will be held on October 6, 2017. Workshops will feature speakers covering hardware, development methodologies, and immersive design concepts. On the last day, a public expo will showcase the projects submitted by hackathon participants, culminating in an award ceremony for the top submission selected by the judging panel. AR/VR designers, developers, sound engineers, graphic artists, domain experts, and enthusiasts are invited to apply for the hackathon here.

Quotes from our sponsors

“Many of the things that you saw created here you might see on a virtual store shelf next year or even sooner.” Richard Marks Head of PlayStation Magic Lab

“The quality of ideas, diversity, and scale of the Reality Virtually Hackathon has been impressive. It's a thrill to be supporting the VR and AR communities at the grassroots level.” Nick Nigam, Venture Investor at Samsung's Global InnovationCenter

“Very interesting to walk around, great diversity, the most diverse hackathon I have ever been too.” Benjamin Nelson, Sr. Product Marketing Manager at AT&T

2016 hackathon by the numbers

  • Over 1,000 developers, designers, audio specialists, and VR/AR enthusiasts submitted applications to attend the Reality Virtually Hackathon and 350 hackers were selected for final participation
  • 35% of hackathon participants represented women and minorities last year; this year, the hackathon organizers’ goal is to increase minority representation, and daycare subsidies were paid to participants with children to enable them to attend.
  • Teams that won the top AR and VR prizes last year, WayPoint RX and KidCity have formed companies and received seed funding
  • Hackathon winners received cash and product prizes valued at $30,000 from sponsors such as AT&T, Samsung, HTC VIVE, Sony PlayStation, and Qualcomm
  • 20 workshops were held with speakers from Unity, Tango, Microsoft, HTC VIVE, Affectiva, and more
  • 40 mentors, experienced in AR and VR design and development and domain expertise helped last year’s teams with ideation through development and implementation
  • The public expo had over 400 attendees over the course of the day, viewing 75 unique project submissions from hackathon participants

What this hackathon will accomplish

The hackathon is called Reality, Virtually because it will promote new applications built for vertical market segments. The competition will stretch the amazing advancements and expertise since last year’s hackathon to produce original and creative apps.

About our participants

Hackathon participants, including developers, graphics artists, designers, and video/sound engineers, will compete for cash prizes, gifts, bragging rights and the opportunity to showcase their work at the Reality, Virtually Hackathon on the sixth floor of the historical and inspiring MIT Media Lab’s sixth floor, located in the heart of Cambridge’s tech scene in Kendall Square.

Teams from MIT, other universities, and the nationwide VR and AR community will be invited to collaborate in an intense development competition.  Teams will have the opportunity to present their innovative and insightful VR and AR apps to the judges and general public at the end of the competition. Participants will have the chance to meet like-minded developers, industry experts, and their talented peers experienced in emerging VR and AR industries.

Participants from MIT, other universities, and the VR and AR communities around the country are forming teams dedicated to developing innovative software solutions that will unlock the technology’s potential in categories such as VR/AR for good, Film and Journalism, Health/Medicine, Learning and Education, Industry, Art, Productivity, Advertising and Monetization, Social Networking, and other vertical applications that participants feel passionate about.

We have set a goal of including at least 50% students among the participants and a goal of 40% diversity. Participants will be accepted via a formal application process.

Possible hackathon prize categories may include:

  • Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality for Good
  • Architecture, Engineering and Construction
  • Healthcare and Medicine
  • Gaming
  • Entertainment
  • Advertising
  • Internet of Things
  • Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence
  • Education

...or any other AR or VR vertical that you are passionate about

Sponsors are being given first looks at new apps for their platforms and see how developers and designers are creating app solutions that fit emergent VR and AR use cases.

Workshops are being held the day before the Hackathon, to bring participants up to speed with development platforms, specifics about headset platforms, software tools, and design principles.

Mentors, skilled in design, platform development, and vertical VR and AR applications, will be providing guidance to the teams and helping participants breakthrough conceptual and development roadblocks.

We’ve made one major change to last year’s hackathon format. This year, all judging will take place on Monday, October 9, 2017, from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM. An AR/VR research symposium will be held at the same time as the judging. Using a variety of learning formats, ranging from the pedagogical to the unconference format, we’re hoping this symposium will bring together academics and industry professionals who are excited to discuss the future of this industry.