Thanks to crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, the internet is flooded with ridiculous gadgets, devices that over-promise and under-deliver, and straight-up scams, all vying for your cash. Maybe that’s why this Stupid Hackathon, which encourages people to invent stupid things, is so refreshing—no one is desperately begging your for money.
Organized by Sam Lavigne and Amelia Winger-Bearskin, this year’s hackathon took place on February 25 and resulted in 75 pointless projects, although some of these creations still have more value and merit than half of what you’ll find on crowdfunding sites. Here are some of our favorites, in no particular order or ranking of ridiculousness.
Brandon Liu created a version of Pong that’s played through clever eyeball tracking. But in order to move the paddle to the left or right, you need to look left or right, taking your focus off the game and making it next to impossible to connect with that tiny square dot. You can try it for yourself right here.
Brian Moore’s @robotpornaddict is an artificially intelligent machine learning system that has never seen pornography before, but has been tasked with narrating and describing what’s going on in each scene. At times its descriptions are as awkward as watching a love scene in a movie with your parents.
Jono Sanders created what very well may be the only selfie stick actually worth using. When raised over your head to snap a “shot from above” selfie, the Beer Selfie Stick also dumps a cold one down your throat, and inevitably all over your face, shoulders, and shirt.
AugmentAd Reality, created by Aliza Aufrichtig, Vijith Assar, and Rich Harris, using augmented reality, to bombard wearers with targeted ads for nearly everything they’re looking at. Instant profit, and still better than Google Glass.
Zac Bensing created a belt-driven temporary tattoo machine that uses a vibrating Sharpie marker to stipple a dagger, heart, or any design onto any body part you’re brave enough to bring near it.
Is there anything more relaxing than the terror of potentially being electrocuted if you don’t chill out? Obviously not. So Maddie Horowitz, Ben Ely, George Bargoud, Sean Macgahan, and Joe Frasier’s Zen Volt machine monitors a user’s brain waves to ensure they’re calm and in a meditative state. If they’re not, it delivers electric shocks until they relax.
If you assume that all of your friends hang on your every word, and spend all their time patiently waiting for your next DM, Anastasis Germanidis and Iain Nash created a simple Facebook Messenger client called Godotify that lets you put that to the test. It makes it look like you’re typing a response, but secretly is just timing how long your friends are willing to wait for your next words of wisdom.
If WebMD scares the crap out of you, definitely don’t use Emily Xie’s Hypochondriapp. It looks for the worst possible disease based on your symptoms. We told it we had a cough and fever, and it diagnosed us with Leukoencephalopathy with vanishing white matter—a terrifying neurological disease we hope we don’t actually have.
Once you throw on a pair of virtual reality goggles, you’re in your own little world. But what if someone back in real reality needs to get your attention? They can either punch you, or use Matt Romein, Sam Sadtler, Yifan Hu and Sean McIntyre’s VR Doorbell which lets someone wearing an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive system know they’re needed in the real world.