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In the sporting world, Eugene, Oregon, is known as the birthplace of Nike, the home of the Oregon Ducks and as TrackTown USA. According to the TrackTown website, the city is “always an incubator of innovation” and has spurred the development of modern jogging and the contemporary running shoe.
However, come mid-October Eugene might be known by another name: HackTown USA. From October 14–16, the University of Oregon will host the first Sports/Tech hackathon, called “QuackCon.” The organizers are anticipating 200-plus college students from around the U.S. who will attend and participate in the hackathon, which aims to promote different types of sport innovations.
“Basically, a hackathon is an event where students come together and they have an allotted amount of time, usually between 24-48 hours,” said Joseph Livni, a sophomore computer and information science major at Oregon. “In that period of time they [the hackers] have to basically create something tech oriented.”
IDEO, an innovation and design firm, as well as Major League Hacking are the two major partners of the hackathon. Both will assist in the creative process by providing ideas for design as well as equipment to assist the hackers. Tentative judges for the event include decathlon world-record holder, 2012 Olympic gold medalist and 2016 Olympian, Ashton Eaton.
“There’s two themes with this hackathon,” said Kate Harmon, the undergraduate program manager for the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship at Oregon. “The students will be prototyping around athletic enhancement as well as audience engagement.”
Some of the different categories surrounding athletic enhancement and audience engagement are things like best outdoor product or best wearable. Besides the judges, Oregon boasts some of the world’s best athletes, and the hackathon will put them to work.
“One of the unique values is that we’re going to have University of Oregon athletes from different sports and the participants will start off by interviewing them,” according to Harmon. “I think one of the values with this hackathon is that most hackathon’s will come in with ideas and people execute them.”