NYC developers to hack new photo apps

A New York City hackathon this week will explore new ideas for photo-based software and services

Hoping to spark some entrepreneurial creativity in the Big Apple, online tools provider Aviary has organized a New York City event for developers to hack together new photo-based applications.

To be held this weekend, Photo Hack Day is the latest in a number of hackathons held in New York City, all staged to help boost the city's fledging start-up culture.

It is an especially good time to be building photo-based applications, said Alex Taub, who leads business development for Aviary. Available bandwidth is now at the point where photos can be shared as easily as text messages, he explained.

"I think we are just at the beginning at what will happen in the photo space," Taub said, pointing to how Instagram, Hipstamatic and others have carved out new markets with innovative services. "Audio and video are still little ways away from being instant, but you can share a photo almost instantly."

Participants can indulge in two full days of intense coding and instruction at the free event. They will be provided with workspaces, wireless access and food. A number of different companies--such as Picplz, Canvas and Aviary--will offer tutorials and consultations on how to use their APIs (application programming interfaces). Participants are free to use other APIs as well, or none at all. The workspace, provided by General Assembly, will be open all night for those willing to code into the wee hours.

On Sunday the developer teams can demonstrate their creations, and a panel of judges will select what they feel are the best applications. Creators of the winning entry will be awarded US$5,000 and their software will be displayed on the NASDAQ electronic billboard in New York City's Times Square. Cash prizes will be awarded to the runners-up, and participating companies will also award their own prizes for the best use of their APIs.

Thus far more than 170 people have signed up to participate. There is no limit on what kind of apps can be made, be they for the desktop, for mobile phones or for online access. On the event's website, Aviary and other sponsors have suggested a few possible apps that could be created, such as a mobile flipbook for photos, a virtual bulletin board for sharing photos or a game involving the manipulation of photos.

Aviary is one of a growing number of start-ups in New York City--others include Foursquare and Meetup--that combine technology and social media to create new mobile and online services. Earlier this year, hack days for games and music were also held, and next month the video format will be subjected to a development day as well.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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