First annual "Hack-A-Thon" aims to inspire innovation

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Posted: Saturday, April 18, 2015 --- 7:04 p.m.

MADISON, Wis -- A group of "hackers" are working hard for 24 hours straight in Madison at the first ever Madison Hack-A-Thon, to come up with new technology innovations.

"It's really just about kind of creative computing, doing something that not just doing your everyday programming or development but really finding unique ways to do things, finding creating, something from nothing," said Leo Rudberg, director of the Hack-A-Thon.

However, in today's case, "hacking" does not refer to breaking into someone's computer. It refers to finding creative ways to solve different problems. A group of four at the Hack-A-Thon is working to find different ways to improve the Myo bracelet, a bracelet device that tracks forearm muscle movement. They aim to add communication features to the device.

"You can squeeze [your palm] and do the same thing [as tapping it] so why not--first it was just gonna be maybe send a text, why not have two of them communicate because they vibrate," said Jason Herzog, a junior from Iowa State University.

Herzog traveled from Iowa just to participate in the Hack-A-Thon. He and his team members, all met this morning, to compete against other teams to see who can code the coolest upgrades.

"I mean it's just a way to meet people and have a really good time, and also it kinda expands your mindset to other areas," said Sean Wilson, a sophomore at UW Madison.

To them, the endless hours of untangling kinks in the system are all worth it, and they find it fun.

"It's really hard at the time and you hate it sometimes, but once you end up getting something that works, it's like really, it's amazing," said Wilson.

The team with the most votes will receive a grand prize that will fund their trip to the global Hack-A-Thon happening in Seoul, South Korea in late July.
The winners will be announced Sunday, at noon.