Hackathon at Viki

There are two things I really love about Viki, and these two things share something in common—they’re both bridges. The first is the bridge to the future. We bring the world from where it is to where it can be. We change the way videos are consumed, and we will continue to do so in meaningful ways. The second is the bridge across nations. We narrow the gap between nations by providing an avenue to translate shows from one language to another. I think the world is a better place with Viki in it.

This wouldn’t have been possible without the exceptional dedication of the people at Viki. We consistently find ways to improve and to serve our users better. Thus, one Friday, we decided to do what every responsible developer would do… slack off at work do a hackathon!! Woohoo!

The theme was quite simple: come up with something helpful. It’s creative, informal, and borderless. People can do whatever they want, as long as they’re helpful, they’re cool.

Out of the many participants, three projects emerged victorious…

Viki University

Viki University

See those subtitles? Viki University allows you to see two subtitles at once. This allows you to learn other languages as you read them alongside with one that’s familiar to you. This takes learning other languages to a whole new level. Enjoying the show is great. Learning a new language is great. Enjoying the show AND learning a new language, now that’s totally awesome! And if in case you’re wondering what that split window below the video is for, Viki University also allows you to click on whatever word there is in the subtitle and it’ll open up the dictionary to tell you what that word means. Awesome stuff!

I also had the chance to interview the brilliant mind behind this Ryo Chikazawa.

Q: How did you come up with the idea to build the app?
Ryo: When I started studying English, I relied on subtitles. I remember one time watching Prison Break with English Subtitles. Because I had difficulty understanding a new language, I would have to pause the video and consult the Japanese text to know what the English words mean. Thus, I realized how much easier life can be if we can have two subtitles up there together to learn. That’s how Viki University started.

Q: What advice can you give to those who want to join a hackathon?
Ryo: I actually did the project alone. I think it’s very helpful if hackathon projects are done in a team. So next time, I’d like to be part of one and come up with something cool together.

Viki Time

Viki University

Viki Time is a standalone desktop app that allows you to watch shows from Viki. It’s lightweight, easy to use, and immersive. In case you’re wondering where the word Viki Time comes from, well it came from Popcorn Time! The brains behind this awesome gem is Lim Chee Aun… and since I had lots of fun interviewing him, I will leave the transcript unedited.

Q: How did you come up with the idea to build the app?
Chee Aun: A long long time ago, hahaha… what the hell! Pointing at me. Hahaha. What’s the question again??

<after about 1 minute of awkward laughing>

Q: How did you come up with the idea to build the app?
Chee Aun: Because I was using this app called popcorn time. It was illegal and I shouldn’t use it. And then I find that the experience is exquisitely awesome. I don't like a lot of movies but I suddenly watch a lot of movies because of Popcorn time. So the user experience is very important. I just want to build a desktop app like Popcorn time for viki.

Q: What’s the most challenging part in building Viki Time?
Chee Aun: The most challenging part is to play the video. Because different platforms have different codecs. There’s this FFMPEG thing that is not included Node-Webkit because of licensing issues so I have to figure out how to do it myself. So I need to get FFMPEG decoder for each platform. Same issue with Popcorn Time. But since they did it, I just copied what they did.

Viki Cinema

Viki University

Remember good ole Ethan who was featured in our previous blog? He’s back with the cavalry and stood tall over this event with an app that he has been longing to create for years now. Together with Neerav, Fadhli, and Aysha, they crafted an impressive video streaming feature with chat functionality, allowing people from around the world to watch the same video and interact while watching. Cool!!

Of course, I’m not letting Ethan off easy without an interview right? So here goes!

Q: What impact to you think this app will make?
Ethan: Actually, we built this while piggybacking on Timed Comments. It is successful. User feedback is that they have the feeling that other users are watching with them. I wanted them to be more interactive and social.

Q: Anything you’d like to share about your experience in this hackathon?
Ethan: I think it is a successful hackathon. I am very excited to see more projects presented. Everybody did a wonderful job!

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