Last month, a couple of friends and I participated in a 24 hour hackathon (UNIHACK). We were called the Swifites. Named after both the programming language and obviously ms. taylor swift.

We wanted to be a prepared team so we decided on an idea before the competition. This all changed 10 minutes into the hackathon after one of the mentors informed us that our idea had already been done. The app we planned on making was already out on the app store with basically the same core features and design aesthetics we had planned. We did Google our idea, obviously not well enough.

The moment (or 2 hours) of panic that followed, resulted in a much more fun and organic idea: Gifme. Starting from the premise that "photos are hip", we landed on the idea of creating photo mosaics with infinite freedom. The idea for the app was simple, take a selfie, tell us what you love and we will re-create your picture from the thing you love. It's better demonstrated by a video:

That's my face being re-created with pictures of Taylor Swift, all in real-time.

Weird that the app is called Gifme, right? When we started out, we wanted to eventually add GIF support. Instead of having a still representation, it'd be a livelier animating version of you! It turns out that downloading + displaying even a low dense GIF mosaic (a grid of 24 by 40 = 960 images) is not a trivial task. So we had to settle with regular old non-animating photos.

During the process we naturally hit a few challenges. Sourcing the photos was quite a task. We had to use Bing as our source because Google is very restrictive with their APIs. With Bing's (terribly documented) API we weren't able to search for images by colour. Our workaround was to request monochrome images from Bing, and then tint the images according to the low-dense representation we had formed. This admittedly did not achieve the desired effect we were after, but it was the best we could do.

Even though our start to the hackathon was a bit of a mess, the end result was a cool and quirky app. 

Next time, I'll personally Google the shit out the idea we decide on.