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  • January 23rd, 2013 Events Hacking Ideas SoundCloud at PennApps By Paul Osman

    Last weekend, we sponsored and attended our first PennApps, the world's largest student run hackathon held at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Nearly 500 students participated from a variety of universities across the US and elsewhere. Students were given 36 hours to get into teams, hack on projects, then show them off to the judges. The results were astounding. In total, over 100 hacks were submitted. Here are some of my personal favourites.

    Giving my API Demo


  • August 30th, 2012 Events Hacking Ideas How to Make a SoundCloud Powered Children's Toy By paulosman

    Just over a week ago we had our first internal hackathon at SoundCloud. You can read (and listen!) about it on our community blog or read some of the awesome press coverage the event received.


    We had over 60 people attend and over 20 projects were demoed. I joined a team organized by Josh Devins to build ToyBox, a children's toy that plays sounds from SoundCloud in response to physical events. The team consisted of myself, Horaci Cuevas, Josh Devins, and Oliver Hookins.

    The first task was to come up with a design for our project. An Arduino fitted with gyro, accelerometer and motion sensors provided the interface between real world events and the rest of the system. A Raspberry Pi would then run the following pieces of software:

    • toybox:downloader - The downloader polls a webapp for data about what sounds from SoundCloud should be played in response to certain events. In order to make the toy more responsive, toybox:downloader downloads the sounds from SoundCloud and stores them on disk (The Raspberry Pi's SD card).

    • toybox:playback - An asynchronous wrapper around mplayer.

    • toybox:serial - An app that listens for data on the Raspberry Pi's serial port. Event data from the Arduino is printed out on stdout for other processes to consume. toybox:serial also uses 0MQ to push event data to a web interface so you can monitor a toy's activity from a browser. The 0MQ consumer also responds to events by playing the appropriate sounds using toybox:playback.

    To provide an interface for toy owners to register a toy (id'd by the Raspberry Pi's MAC address) and associate SoundCloud sounds with events, we built a simple Sinatra application that we hosted on Heroku. toybox:webapp also provides a couple of endpoints that serve JSON describing what sounds should be played when for a particular toy. This provided the service endpoint needed by toybox:downloader.

    Knowing what needed to be built, we each started hacking on a piece. Horaci worked on toybox:serial, Oliver worked on toybox:downloader and toybox:playback and I worked on toybox:webapp. Josh focused on the Arduino soldering and coding and Oliver and Horaci helped get the Pi set up. You can see the Arduino code here.

    There was a bit of frantic integration work at the end, but it did all come together nicely. It was great to see sounds being played from SoundCloud whenever a button was pushed, or the toybox was shaken, tilted or spoken to.


    Making it pretty is a job for another hackathon :-)

  • July 12th, 2012 Announcements Events Hacking Ideas Recording and Sharing Phone Calls By Paul Osman

    A few weeks ago, I attended News Hack Day in San Francisco. News Hack Days are events that bring together journalists, developers and designers for multi day creative coding and brainstorming sessions.

    I really like the idea of hack days that bring together people from different backgrounds. After chatting with a few journalists, it became obvious to me that recording interviews on the phone is a real pain. I saw this as an opportunity to build a fun app that would make this easier for people.


  • April 11th, 2012 Announcements Hacking Ideas Create rich media experiences using timed comments By Johannes Wagener

    In the last weeks we got pretty excited about the idea of using timed comments to create and script rich media experiences. Imagine being able to trigger all kinds of visualizations & interactions for a timed comment while playing a track.

    Timed Comments with Media


  • May 29th, 2011 Announcements Hacking Ideas Hack Ideas By Johannes Wagener

    If you are looking for some inspiration for your next weekend hack project, here is a list of ideas that could be built using the SoundCloud platform. Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments!