NYU Hackathon Heralds New Generation of Bitcoin Apps

A weekend bitcoin hackathon at NYU's Leslie eLab showcased a new generation of apps, many written by bitcoin newcomers.

AccessTimeIconNov 17, 2014 at 11:34 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 11:20 a.m. UTC
 The Blockchain team with prize winners at the NYU hackathon
The Blockchain team with prize winners at the NYU hackathon

A bitcoin-themed hackathon held at New York University (NYU) over the weekend hinted at the kinds of applications new developers are creating, showcasing everything from new games to shopping research and trading tools.

The two-day event, titled HackBit, culminated in eight teams pitching their ideas to a panel of judges. Each team had three minutes of presentation time, followed by two minutes of questions.

About 75 attended the hackathon, mainly university students from the north east and at least one from Ohio. Also participating were established bitcoin companies Blockchain and Chain, with contestants using either company's API.


A team called To The Moon took first prize in the competition, with their concept of a Space Invaders-style game that awards the tiniest fractions of bitcoins, or satoshis, instead of points. Players can either keep their earnings to spend on game upgrades, or cash out.

The game, built on Blockchain's API, demonstrates bitcoin's ability to handle micropayments at scale and, according to participants, it's also fun to play.

Second place – and Blockchain's API award – went to BitRec, a receipt tracking system and spending dashboard that gives consumers valuable information on their purchasing habits. Third place went to a bitcoin trading tool called Bitquant.

Chain and Blockchain support

Chain co-founder Adam Ludwin told CoinDesk that his company also handed out a prize for the best use of its API. The winner, Lightcoin (not to be confused with litecoin), combined a hardware hack with innovative use of light and sound to notify bitcoin users when a transaction is made.

He said the team at bitcoin infrastructure platform Chain are big fans of both NYU and bitcoin, so it was "a great match".

"In general, we love hackathons – in fact, one of our other teammates, Charley Hine, was supporting one in Colorado while we were at NYU. Hackathons are a great opportunity for us to learn about what developers want to do with bitcoin and help shape our product roadmap."

Blockchain president Peter Smith said the company believed in supporting more developers entering the bitcoin universe, particularly students.

"To be successful as a company, and as an industry, we're going to need an incredible amount of talented developers working on bitcoin."

Most of the students involved were new to bitcoin, staying up all night to complete their projects.

The HackBit event was NYU's first bitcoin hackathon, and was held in conjunction with Hacker League, NYU's Entrepreneurial Institute and the NYU Entrepreneurs Network. It was also the first hackathon to be held at the brand new NYU Leslie eLab.

Images courtesy of Blockchain


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