Groundbreaking Ideas From Hulu’s Open Innovation Hackathon

Published Nov-16-19

Syncing Hulu videos with IoT devices for immersive viewing experiences, an eye-operated TV remote control and other innovations coming out of Hulu’s annual hackathon.

Hulu, United States

The Story:

Groundbreaking Ideas From Hulu’s Open Innovation Hackathon Hulu is a U.S.-based subscription video on demand service that is part of a very competitive media landscape with companies constantly innovating to get more viewers to watch their programs.

One of the ways Hulu tries to stay ahead of the curve is through open innovation hackathons that harness the creative potential of an audience of Hulu employees and interns.


The purpose of 2019's hackathon was to improve Hulu viewer experiences and Hulu employees' lives with a particular focus on accessibility.

During the 48-hour open innovation event, participants designed and created 40 projects that pushed technical and creative boundaries.

In an interview for participants Rafael Soltanovich, Vice President of Software, Development at Hulu, said:

“This is an opportunity for you to work on new ideas that you never got to before, to try out new technology, or to try to move our product in a direction that's going to really move the needle for our customers."

Among the standout projects to come out of the hackathon were:

Eye remote control for Roku devices: A conceptual project that could be of enormous benefit to viewers with reduced mobility - a remote that lets you control Hulu on Roku players.

Hulu Immersion: A way to sync Hulu video with IoT (Internet of Things) devices such as smart light bulbs and smart thermostats to provide an immersive viewing experience.

Campfire: Integrated video and text chat that lets viewers watch content together even when they're not in the same room.

Project Chromatism: Color correction settings for color-blind Hulu viewers. This would involve using a simple visual aid on the settings page to guide users in selecting the most suitable colors and contrast levels for them.

Accessibility Auditor: a tool that provides web application developers with immediate accessibility feedback. For example, developers will be notified if a page doesn’t meet contrast ratio thresholds or if words are not visible enough as well as a range of other impediments to inclusive design.

Not every project will be utilized by Hulu, but the open innovation hackathon is more than just a creative hub for groundbreaking ideas.

"In the past, a lot of the projects that came out of the hackathon ended up being deployed in production," added Soltanovich.

"And beyond that, you can't really put a price tag on the intangible effect of the team building and the camaraderie and just being able to work on something that will be tremendously satisfying at the end of the day. This is what being an engineer is all about.”

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