HackDFW: Too Much Fun!

Blog Post created by tmero on May 1, 2016


“Wow! Cisco DevNet is so awesome to be one of the only sponsors left this late at night. Thank you for being so supportive!"

“I wasn’t excited about a drone as a prize until I looked up what an RJI Phantom 3 Advanced Drone was. That’s what made us decide to compete to win the drones for all of our team members!"


HackDFW is the design-thinking hackathon of Dallas. It is a place where you can be part of the nebulous, wondrous, awe-inspiring, frustrating-yet-glorious process of creating. A place where ideas aren't limited by fear or doubt, just 24 hours!

On the weekend of April 16-17, 2016, the hackathon was held at Gilley’s in Dallas, Texas. The purpose of this hackathon was to start on hacking on sponsors platforms/API’s to compete for prizes. Also there were famous guest judges too! Founder/CEO of CareerCup, Former CIO of Tesla Motors, VP of Toyota Connected, Inc, CTO Oculus, and many others. Not only did sponsors give out prizes, but there was a competition for the main prize.

Non-stop through the whole night. People brought blankets and pillows. There were deodorant, toothbrushes, and q-tips available in the bathroom.


We were one of the sponsors here. Our Cisco booth was packed with goodies! We had a ton of sunglasses and flash drives. Wow was it a sunny day on Saturday! The sunglasses sure did come in handy. We had about 4 tables connected to each other and several team members supporting the hackers around the clock. After the last of us left around 2:00AM, we had another team member come in and start at 3:00AM! It worked out since he was jet lagged and came here from Europe.

Not only were we giving out goodies, we were looking to hire new employees! We have a ton of internships available as well as open positions. It was an amazing opportunity to meet students face-to-face and learn about their project ideas for the hackathon as well as their career goals.

It was way too much fun talking with everyone. The booth was packed with people!


It was crazy how big the venue was! With 3 HUGE rooms packed with hackathoner’s, it was probably one of the biggest hackathon’s I’ve attended. I cannot wait to attend the one next year. I heard they plan on going bigger and greater!


There were people walking around passing out waters and energy drinks. It was 3 big rooms full of hackers. People coming around passing out energy drinks and water. Developer Evangelists going around helping people get started on the Cisco API’s.



Adam Kalsey kicking it off on stage being really awesome!


When it became late night, we were one of the only sponsors left hanging around. Knowing we had a lot of teams working on our API’s, we wanted to make sure they were supported around the clock, aside from a couple hours in between shifts.


There were over 150 teams competing for the grand prize at the hackathon. We had over 15 teams submit to win Cisco’s grand prize of the RJI Phantom 3 Advanced Drones. (One for each team member).


The winner of the team who made a best use case of our API’s is UniKonnect. You can read the whole story here.





Here are a few of the other teams and what they created at HackDFW:

AI Tele Service


Our Idea: We were inspired by Facebook's new feature, that allow blind to be able to hear the posts that are currently uploaded on their wall. The problem with that is, its limited only to Facebook, we decided why not remove the limitation by reintroducing/introducing it into the world in the form of an Android application.

Scenario: Imagine a scenario where a blind person has to rely on someone in order describe what is currently going on in front of him or going on the scene, instead of depending on a person to narrate the situation, he can simply take a photo of the scene and would get a call to describe the current situation.

How it is been implemented: The application is done in Android (Java), which accesses the phones camera, once the user clicks a photo it would be sent to Microsoft Azure's cloud storage and also send information to our custom rest service which uses the Microsoft Azures Computer Vision API to read and analyze the image which is currently uploaded. Once the image is analyzed it sends the information to the Cisco's Tropo voice call api along with the phone number of the user and the user would get a call with all the information about the image.

An additional feature which was added was in case the user takes a picture of an image which has text present in it then using the help of Microsoft Azures Optical Character Recognition API we are able to extract the text and would be able to get a voice automated call which describes the text extracted.

In order develop the custom rest service which communicates with Azure Computer Vision API as well as the Tropo voice calls we used Amazon AWS services to integrate all of them seamlessly.


Project: U-Talk


This is project is basically one stop shop for all the needs of user, we have created an IVR based system which constitutes an interactive system which takes inputs from user and gives related updates. There are certain categories for which user can get updates, like events on campus, today's sports, today's weather, today's stock market details and many more. We used Tropo's API to create our script based app using PHP and JSON . The API provides a mobile number end point for the service.

User request in speech is converted to text form using API and is processed to parse the JSON and extract required information.

Main advantages of this projects are: This is a service and not an app so no need of downloading anything and hence it works offline without any internet connectivity. This supports concurrent multi-user support. It provides easy to use interface and user need not be a tech savvy.

Future Prospects: Live data streaming like baseball game scores, prospective e-commerce IVR system for visually impaired and technically challenged people.


Project: STConnect


Our team chose to incorporate both APIs provided by Cisco and utilize some in the embedded capabilities of each while working in tandem as a singular process stream. The resulting application is a three-tiered client architecture server using Spark, Tropo, Flow & Zapier. It includes multiple functions modeled after a chat room; including initiating a phone call to engage in talk-to-text, text-to-talk, and providing a documented transcript from the dictation.

The working concept we began with was, ‘how would a deaf person and a blind person hold a meaningful conversation, possibly including technical or proprietary jargon? Our hopes are this could be expanded to include file distribution, conference calling for more than two active lines, and fully integrated multi-dimensional media communication for any number of participants.


Project: KonnectMe


What is your Project about? Our Inspiration to build this Application (Both for Android Devices and Web) - A lot of group/event organizing apps are message based so we decided to introduce a new concept by allowing users to RSVP to an event by answering to an automated call. Our project was about streamlining event organization to allow for personal invites to be sent and responses received in an automated, real-time manner.

Our project set out to reduce the burden for organizers in time sensitive situations. The primary purpose of the App is to aid in organizing and receiving feedback on event invites. And we used Cisco's API to automatically call invitees and record their responses.




Stay tuned to our blog for exciting news!


Tessa Mero, Cisco Developer Evangelist

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