The Hack of the Week Series highlights a new hackathon programming project each week.



Augmenting vision with details about whomever you’re looking at is no longer just a trick for artificially intelligent machines in a post-apocalyptic 2029.

A team at hackday.tv in New York swept both the people’s choice and first place awards Sunday with an iPhone app that gives you “terminator vision.” The app locates a person’s face through the iPhone’s camera and then reads his or her Facebook profile (you need to be Facebook friends for it to work). It uses the profile to provide you with a name, gender and birthdate on a red-tinted screen. If you want, you can hum some suspenseful music to yourself for the full effect.

Now that we’ve seen it, we’re not sure what took so long for someone to make this app. A face recognition API called Face.com has been making it easy for developers to add this capability since 2009. Isn’t this the next logical step?

“I think it’s the kind of thing that you can throw in the App Store and I will pay $1 for it,” says Reece Pacheco, co-founder of Shelby.tv, while announcing the hackathon winners. “And there are at least a million [people] like me who will do the same thing.”

Rich Cameron and Haris Amin, who both work for DailyBurn during the day, haven’t put the app on the App Store yet for potential trademark issues. “There’s going to be a cease and desist letters as soon as the story runs,” Cameron says.

But of the five hackathons that Amin has participated in this year, he says this was the most fulfilling.

“I just didn’t want to do something useful,” he says. “This was way more fun.”

More About: Gadgets, hack of the week, hackathon, hacking, iphone apps





Google will discontinue news-reading tool Fast Flip, to shift resources to its more widely used products. It will be removed from Google News and Labs in the coming days, though its approach to web content display will be integrated into other tools, Google announced on its blog.

Fast Flip, which celebrates its second birthday this month, is at the top of the list when sorting Google Labs projects by popularity. The tool aims to replicate the print-reading experience online by allowing users to browse stories more quickly. It came at a time when more news organizations were willing to experiment with web content distribution and boasted it had an impressive list of launch partners, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Fast Company. These media companies share ad revenue generated through Fast Flip with Google.

Though the product didn’t show much promise from the start, it may have seen success if it had been reworked as a tablet app. As evidenced by CNN’s acquisition of Zite and AOL’s release of Editions, news organizations are shifting focus to optimize mobile reader experiences in a big way.

News aggregation apps Flipboard and Pulse are seeing growing audiences as tablets continue to prove themselves as great content consumption devices. Google may have been better off creating a feature to simplify browsing news on a tablet rather than the conventional web.

Fast Flip is one of nine in a batch of products to be discontinued from Google Labs. The company announced it would shutter Labs experiments shortly after releasing its second-quarter earnings results in mid-July.

Other Labs products Google will shut down:

  • Aardvark: Social search product that helps people answer each others’ questions.
  • Desktop: Gives instant access to data while online or offline.
  • Fast Flip: Provides a faster, richer news content browsing and reading experience.
  • Google Maps API for Flash: Allows ActionScript developers to integrate Google Maps into their applications.
  • Google Pack: Makes it easy to download and install a package of Google and third-party applications.
  • Google Web Security: Protects against web malware attacks.
  • Image Labeler: Helps people explore and label images on the web.
  • Notebook: Helps people combine clipped URLs from the web and free-form notes into documents they can share and publish.
  • Sidewiki: A browser sidebar that lets people contribute and read information alongside any web page.
  • Subscribed Links: Enables developers to create specialized search results that were added to the normal Google search results on relevant queries for subscribed users.

Would you have used Google Fast Flip on a tablet? Tell us in the comments below.

More About: google fast flip, google labs