App Developed by ESU Students Wins “Hack-A-Thon”

David Walker and Kieran Laverty

Posted by: Elizabeth Richardson on April 10, 2024, No Comments

Two East Stroudsburg University students applied knowledge acquired in the classroom with good old-fashioned creativity and took home the top prize at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s BrickHack X competition in February. The “hack-a-thon”, as it’s known, is essentially an invention marathon in which participants put innovative projects together in a short time.

David Walker and Kieran Laverty, both computer science majors, developed Pose Pose Revolution, a trivia game app that recognizes hand gestures as responses to questions. Laverty, who had attended other similar events and calls them “a great time to learn,” wanted to develop an app that included computer vision. “I picked something I don’t have a lot of experience in, or something I haven’t done before. I set a goal and used technology to reach that goal. I never did image recognition, so I used the hack-a-thon to learn something new,” Laverty said.

Walker, whom Laverty met through ESU’s Computer Science Organization (CSO), liked AppleVisionPro and its strong UI (user interface) capabilities. “I thought the gesture to control the UI was really cool, so I wanted to mimic the AppleVisionPro,” he explained. The students paired up, started brainstorming, and developed ways to utilize both features in their app. They determined hand gestures might be the simplest way to implement both aspects of the technology.

“Participants in the BrickHack have 24 hours to put something together,” Walker said. After that time, a panel of judges walks around the room surveying the final products and ultimately chooses a winner. Walker explained their process of developing the app: “We started by looking at software available to process a video feed. We processed the idea piecemeal. First, we had to get the computer to recognize our hand, then recognize a hand gesture. We liked the idea of trivia—true or false questions—blended with gesture recognition.” Players give a simple “thumbs up” for a “true” response or a “thumbs down” for a “false” response. Walker and Laverty’s app won “Best Overall Hack” in the competition.

Thanks to his courses at ESU, Walker was confident in his abilities to develop the app. “My classes gave me both the tech experience and creative problem solving. When we went to this competition, it’s just second nature to look at a problem and develop a solution,” he said. “The thought of ‘just go for it’ is also second nature.”

Laverty, who transferred to ESU at the beginning of the semester, was grateful to find like-minded students and potential collaborators in the CSO. Besides the learning aspects, Laverty appreciated the networking BrickHack provided. “I find these events to be fun and entertaining. Sometimes companies sponsor them—they’re a great way to talk to companies that might be recruiting,” he said. This event also featured workshops and different learning opportunities. He and Walker attended a program on ChatGPT and API and how to implement them into coding projects.

The BrickHack win is helping Walker finish his ESU career on a high note. After graduation, he will be relocating to Minneapolis for a job writing software with Allianz Insurance, a company he interned with last summer. Laverty has one more year remaining at ESU and is looking at summer internships.

Walker describes the BrickHack experience as amazing. “We were surrounded by talented, motivated individuals and I got to demonstrate what I’m capable of doing. I got to network and meet a lot of people and also got to learn about new technologies. It was really cool.”