Hacking Thrives in Toronto at Pixel Hack

Pixel Hack Day took to the stage for their second go around after the success of the first one this time last year. It’s meant as a weekend to connect the developer and designer communities in pursuit of an awesome hack.

Taking place at the end of Global Entrepreneurship Week, it is just one of many events that are taking advantage of the growing startup community in Toronto. Presented by 500px, one of Toronto’s breakout success stories in the last few years, 500px’s mission is to empower photographers to discover, share, and sell their best work.

The goal of Pixel Hack for 500px is in part to uncover great talent in a straining market where developers and designers have been a rare breed and competition is fierce for their skills. As more startups are created the demand and scarcity of talent has become an increasing issue many companies in town.

Taking advantage of the 500px, context.io, Aviary, and sendgrid API’s were the major requirement for Pixel Hack with specific prizes being given out for the best use of their APIs. Participants can form groups or work as individuals in pursuit of bragging rights and a plethora of prizes like the Canon EOS 5D MK II, iPad, and others.

One of the hacker said that “it was a good hack day” that was “showing growth the engineering talent in Toronto with apps being made for many platforms” in just a “limited time with just a few small teams.” Jeff Jewiss said that compared to last year there was great turnout with a lot of talent and well over a dozen projects summited at the end of it all.

Pixel Hack was hosted at Extreme Startups new office which is situated in the Boroughs building in Toronto’s west end. Having just finished their second cohort, Extreme Labs has quickly made a name for itself throughout the local startup community and is just one of many new places that startups compete with to call home for a spell.

Matt Stevens whose day job is at a startup at Extreme Labs said that PixelHack shows that there is a lot of support in the community with the great prizes and venue. Matt goes on to say that there was lots of energy throughout the event, with a duo coming all the way from France to take part in the hack. Their team Pixelytics whose iPad app showed stats in an infgographic form from images they accessed through the 500px api.

The big winners for the event chosen by a group of judges that included 500px’s CEO Oleg Gutsol, Erin Bury, Managing Editor for Beta Kit, and Andy Yang , Extreme Startups Managing Director. The best business idea was Insitu an iPhone that allows photographers to show off their work in context, be it for advertising, portraits or artistic.

The winner of Best Design was Travel by 500px which took photos and made the user be a pirate searching a map for bounty in the form of pictures taken at a specific location. It had a fun vibe and a great graphical style that stood out among the apps.

The grand prize winner of Pixel Hack this year was Camo (I may have spelt the name wrong) which was art installation that makes use of your web cam. It takes the video from your web cam and displays photos based on the colours shown on the web cam using the 500px API.

There were a lot of other prizes given out for the best uses of the all the APIs at Pixel Hack. Context.IO gave an Apple TV to an app called Why Can’t I use all these API’s, it wins if only for the awesome name. This iPhone app made use of every API that was available at the hack.

The best use of the Aviary and sendgrid APIs went to Pixel Card which turned you 500px photos into personalized post cards and allowed you to modify the photos through Aviary. Microsoft gave a $500 gift certificate for a surface tablet to Grid Pics which had an app that just created a space to organize photos in a grid like fashion.

Dustin at 500px said that the entire point of Pixel Hack was to bring together the design and developer communities. And they did that in great measure with over 70% of registrants coming out for the event, which was a significant bump from the event last year.

Here is the full list of the winners at Pixel Hack:

Overall Winner: Camo
Tyler Ball
Andrew Sibley

Best Design: Travelby500px
Bartek Ciszkowskil
Scott McAllister

Best Business Idea: 500px – InSitu
James Cam
Garth Gutenberg

Best Windows 8 App: Gridpix
Kare Desu
Sinthushan Sivapatham

Best use of SendGrid and Aviary: PixelCard
Arseniy Ivanov
Katerina Lyadova
Eugene Yagrushkin

Best use of Context.io: Why Can’t I Hold All These APIs
Adam Shutsa

Hopefully some of these hacks make it past the hack stage to become something more. Congrats to all the winners and participants and keep hacking ( I so wish I could do what some of these devs and designers could do).