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December 14, 2012

INI Team's iSports App Wins ESPN Hackathon for Women

By Ann Lyon Ritchie

An image is worth a thousand words, but a new Android app created by Carnegie Mellon graduate students can take a video and give you even more.

Ditaya Das, Pooja Gada and Divya Natesan, students in the Information Networking Institute's bicoastal master's degree program, won the espnW Hack Day for female developers last month at Stanford, Calif., with their iSports app. The Android app can be used for watching sports highlights on YouTube or

It uses image recognition to identify players in the video and show facts, such as biographical information and player-related statistics using the ESPN API (application programming interface). It displays a player's measured influence over social media using the Mashery API and it mines for tweets by the player and provides other relevant YouTube video recommendations.

The trio won best in show and placed first in the category of best use of the Mashery API. The three second-year information technology grad students are at the Silicon Valley campus (CMU-SV) this fall.

"These hackathons provide us an avenue to implement novel ideas from the concepts we studied in our coursework," Natesan said. She and her team members are enrolled in a practicum, which is a capstone project that allows students to work for a corporate client in Silicon Valley on a real-world project.

"I'm delighted with the creative and innovative app developed by the team, including how they were able to take advantage of the image recognition techniques they had already explored for their practicum," said Ole J. Mengshoel, associate research professor at CMU-SV who advised the team on their practicum.

The audience of more than 200 at Hack Day was entertained and often broke into spurts of laughter as the women presented their idea for iSports with a healthy dose of humor. They recognized the app as useful and an innovative approach to watching sports videos.

"There was constant tweeting about the app and our presentation in progress," Das said.

The team's prizes include a trip to ESPN's campus in Bristol, Conn., two tickets for each student to any U.S. sporting event and a Jawbone Big Jambox wireless speaker. The team also is featured in an article in Wired Magazine ("Female Developers and Athletes Take the Leading Role at espnW Hack Day"). Among other benefits, the students gained insight and new relationships with the many professionals at the event.

"It was such an amazing experience," Gada said. "We got to meet and network with so many people in Silicon Valley."

"The professional opportunities in the Silicon Valley region have been invaluable to our students," said INI Director Dena Haritos Tsamitis, who credited the faculty and staff at the Silicon Valley campus for working to connect the students with competitions and other workshops.

The hackathon was held by ESPN in partnership with Stanford University, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Twilio and Mashery.