Cool Hacks, Bro. Check Out These Hack Week Projects

April 12th, 2013 by Juliana

Last week was Hack Week at Chartbeat, and while Shaun’s excited to update you soon on his reader project, there were so many awesome hacks this time around, I had to share a few.

In case you didn't know, The Chartteam has a Hack Week every cycle where people can work on a project of their own choosing. The only rule is that you have to have something to show at the end of the week. This past week, we saw some pretty fantastic (and useful) hacks. Enjoy the three projects below – two of which will soon be available for you to use.

Tracking coffee consumption at Chartbeat

Coffee is a pretty big deal at Chartbeat – as in we recently built a specific countertop to fit a larger coffee making set up because we’re intaking that much caffeine every day. Josh, Justin, Allan, and Tom got their hands dirty with a system involving hardware hacking and face recognition that tracks coffee consumption at Chartbeat by individual drinker. Crazy right? Here’s how it works: 

  1. Justin did the hardware. A pressure sensor connected to an Arduino was placed under the coffee pot. Data from the Arduino was downloaded to a Raspberry Pi, which tracked the pressure (i.e. weight of the pot) over time

  2. When people took cups of coffee or refilled the pot, the system detected the change in pressure, recorded the event, and snapped a picture of the coffee consumer’s face

  3. Josh wrote an facial recognition system that labeled each photo with its presumed Chartteam member

  4. Tom wrote a web interface for looking at photos. If photos were mislabled by the classifier, people could relabel them with the correct people and the new labels were fed back into the classifier.

  5. In a few weeks we’ll know who’s drinking the most coffee at Chartbeat (so we can blame our Joyride invoices on them).

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Building Big Board 2.0

Matt decided the very popular Big Board needed a new look for 2013. So he built a new Big Board on our Sharkbeat code with a much cleaner interface. His Big Board offers both light and dark background choices, several different metrics you can filter the board with, and the option to hide numbers. Check out this sweet video of the new Big Board in action.

New Chartbeat Big Board from Matt Bango on Vimeo.
Creating a domain-based Total Total

For a while we’ve had a Chartbeat Total Total that aggregates concurrents across all of our sites. We’re big fans of displaying our Total Total around the office, and David figured some of you guys might want a domain-specific Total Total – so be built one. Total Total tells you in real time what platforms, operating systems, and browsers you current visitors are using to access your site, which might be new data for some of you. It’s an awesome get-your-data-real-quick visualization to put up on a monitor in your newsroom.

These projects will be posted on our Labs page soon – with the new Big Board and Total Total soon available for you to use. Get pumped for some awesome new visualization bling for your newsroom monitors.

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What do you think we should build next Hack Week?