Dutch developers win contest with Spotify cover scanner mash-up

Developers battled for prizes in a 30-hour Amsterdam hacking challenge

A team of Dutch developers won a 30-hour hacking challenge at the Next Web conference Thursday with a service that uses a webcam to scan album covers in the database of online streaming music service Spotify.

The service, called Covify, scans the covers and matches them with Spotify's library. "We love Spotify," but getting an album collection into the service can be difficult, the developers said. With Covify, the developers want to help Spotify users scan their CD and LP albums into the service without the hassle of manually searching for each title.

The tool is meant for people who still own a "pile of old CDs," the developers said during their three-minute presentation at the end of the challenge. They came up with the idea last weekend and built covify.com during the 30-hour competition. Users can scan covers via a Web app or sign up for a beta version of a Covify iPhone app. The jury awarded them first place in the competition and a prize of €5,000 (US$6,602) in credit to be spent with event sponsor Joyent.

The 22 developer teams competing had to use APIs (application programming interfaces) provided by different API partners. Apart from Spotify APIs, others were provided by partners including Facebook, DropBox and the Dutch telecom operator KPN.

The second prize was awarded to the developers of VersionBox, an application that uses the DropBox API to track version changes in image files. The application lets users track changes in images when collaborating on visual projects.

Third place was awarded to the developers of the energy-saving game Electric Vampires. The game entices users to save energy in their homes through challenges such using as little energy as possible in an hour or shutting off all the lights in the house. When the task is completed, the user earns points that can be viewed and compared to other home owners using the application on a global leader board. The game was also developed for use by utility companies that want to reduce power, for instance during especially hot summer days.

Developers also dreamed up services such as Parti.fi, a Spotify hack that aims to "kill the 30 second DJ at parties." The idea for the app was born out of the frustration the developers had at parties where anyone can play whatever music they want, resulting in songs being played for 30 seconds before somebody else steps in and to chooses another song. With Parti.fi, users can organize a party via Facebook and people who say they will attend get access to a Spotify party playlist so that the process of what music gets played is democratized.

Another less serious effort was called TrollBox, which uses the DropBox API, among others, to pull an office prank on co-workers who forget to lock their computers when they leave their desks. The developed application allows users to give any photo stored on the computer a troll-face. The developers said they love office pranks.

All hacks were listed on a wiki-page and some developed applications were listed on open source code repository GitHub.

Loek covers all things tech for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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Loek Essers

IDG News Service
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