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Using multiple Microsoft services, the winning team of three developers created an innovative Windows Phone app during the 50-hour Hackathon at BUILD last week in San Francisco that clearly resonated with conference attendees.

And, not satisfied with simply creating a Windows Phone app, this winning team used everything in their Microsoft arsenal, including Windows Phone, Windows 8, Azure Mobile Services, and more.

The winning app is called “iSmack” and while it is not yet in the Windows Phone Store, if you have ever seen a “test your strength” game at a local carnival, you’ll soon understand what it is all about. And naturally, this winning app brings the concept to a much more portable format.

So, how do you iSmack?

The whole thing begins with someone hitting a circular plastic disc, and while this could be anything, the team chose to make one using a 3D printer that was available to the Hackathon competitors (the disc they created happened to have a very familiar logo on it … hence, the iSmack name).


That disc sits on top of a pressure sensor, which is attached to a small “Netduino Plus 2” device which sends a signal via Bluetooth, to the Windows Phone app the team developed.

(Side note: At the end of the Hackathon, BUILD attendees – primarily other developers – were invited to try all of the apps submitted, and vote for their favorites in a true peer-to-peer competition. During the voting, the pressure sensor broke from all of the abuse inflicted upon it by conference goers!)

The Window Phone app shows the results on the Nokia Lumia screen; and at the same time, those results are sent to the cloud via Azure Mobile Services.

Using Windows Live authentication, the score for the “hit” is associated with the person that did it, and the data is sent – along with the hitter’s name – to a Windows 8 client on a computer, where the name and score is displayed on a “Leader Board” showing other recent players’ scores (such as a top 10 list).

The data is recorded in 10 millisecond samples, so the entire hit will then display in a curved chart (low to high, etc.) as the force of the hit is recorded. Of course, stronger smacks make bigger charts.

The winners were interviewed by Microsoft’s Channel 9 during the final afternoon at BUILD:

Meet the winning team

The winning team in the Windows Phone app category happened to be made up of three Nokia Developer Ambassadors (pictured L-R below: Jan Hannemann, Paras Wadehra & Lance McCarthy during their Channel 9 interview), who are genuine experts when it comes to developing for Windows Phone, so it might not be too surprising that this team was able to come up with this app in such a short amount of time.


The Nokia Developer Ambassadors across North America advocate on behalf of developing apps for Windows Phone, sign developers up for Nokia’s rewards program DVLUP, and provide training and guidance to other developers on an ongoing basis. As new developers become involved creating apps for Windows Phone, they will know they are getting coached by people with real expertise in Windows Phone app development.

What’s next for iSmack?

According to team member Paras Wadehra, the app – and the related set-up – could be configured for use at your local pub, available as a game for patrons. So stay tuned … maybe you’ll have a chance to try your hand at iSmack at a bar near you.