Jibo East Coast Indiegogo Hackathon

This weekend marked a huge milestone for Jibo-- the first official Jibo Hackathon for participants who purchased the Hackathon Perk during the Indiegogo campaign. Developers from all over the world came to the MIT Media Lab-- the birthplace of social robotics and Jibo co-founder Cynthia Breazeal’s lab-- to use the Jibo SDK and meet Jibo himself.

Preparation for the hackathon was in full swing Friday night for Jibo employees as they tinkered and tweaked to make sure everything would be perfect for developers the next morning. Robot Technician Aaron Westelman updated, tested, and packed up 25 robots so they could leave their comfy home at Jibo Headquarters to make the trek across snowy Boston to the Media Lab in Cambridge. Members of the SDK, Marketing, Platform, and Customer Care teams all worked late into the night to make sure everything was flawless.

Bright and early Saturday morning the robots were lovingly loaded into vans and driven to the Media Lab, where setup took place quickly and efficiently. Westelman, the SDK team, and the Platform team connected each of the 25 robots to the MIT network and prepared each robot so that every developer would have an individual robot to test their skills (robot applications) on.

The first developer to arrive flew in all the way from Oklahoma. His enthusiasm for Jibo was apparent even before the hacking began, as he met Steve Chambers, the Jibo, Inc. CEO, and the rest of the team, excitedly exchanging ideas about the future of Jibo. Developers arrived from DC, Alabama, Indiana, and even South Korea! The excitement was palpable as Steve Chambers introduced the team and kicked off the event with a presentation and welcome speech, and then turned the microphone over to Jonathan Ross, head of the Jibo SDK Engineering Team. Ross walked developers through the installation of the SDK and the creation of a simple skill. When the developers pushed their very first Jibo Skills to the robot, a gasp went through the room as Jibo instantaneously came to life. Developer Marc Hadfield (founder of Vital A.I.) noted in his blog that:

There is a magic in creating an arc of motion in the simulator, hitting the “Run” button, and having Jibo swing into motion.

With that, the developers were off. Personalities shown through as each developer took a different approach to Jibo and the SDK. Some designers stuck close to the Animation Editor, creating beautiful screen graphics and body animations for Jibo. Some more experienced developers dove deep into the APIs, using JavaScript to script detailed applications. One developer took on Jibo’s Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and created a full Jibo skill that he presented to the group at the end of the day. This fun skill allowed a user to exchange knock-knock jokes with Jibo, who giggled and swayed in response.

After the hacking was wrapped up, developers and Jibo employees headed to Mead Hall for drinks, food, and conversation. Developers were quick to give feedback, both positive (the ease of pushing from SDK to robot, the simulator, and the animation editor) and constructive (everyone wanted more time with the SDK!). Several developers lamented not living locally, wishing for more frequent access to Jibo. It was great for Team Jibo to see the SDK and robot being used by some of their early supporters; the team is thrilled with the response from the developers to both the SDK and the robot. We’re looking forward to our next hackathon on the west coast in a few weeks and to the skills that Jibo developers bring to life!


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