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INI Master's Student Wins Apple Watch Hackathon for PreziRemote App

June 29, 2015

By Emily Durham

Timing a presentation is messy business. Any presenter knows there is nothing more stressful than looking up mid-presentation to discover someone waving a “one minute remaining” sign. And tracking time yourself isn't much better — awkwardly (and sometimes repeatedly) waking up a timer from sleep mode is bound to knock a few points from your credibility scale.

But the up-and-coming Apple Watch has the potential to improve the presenting experience, as Akshay Pushparaja, a master's student in Carnegie Mellon's Information Networking Institute (INI), has demonstrated with his hackathon-winning proposed app, PreziRemote.

On June 13, 2015, Pushparaja, who is pursuing a Master's of Science in Information Technology with a concentration in Mobility, teamed up with friend and iOS Software Engineer Vikas Iyer to create the prototype for PreziRemote. Together, they entered the Apple Watch Hackathon 2015, an app development competition hosted by social app development company if(we) in San Francisco, CA. This hackathon required teams to use WatchKit, an application program interface that allows developers to create iPhone apps that display on the Apple Watch.

apple watchPreziRemote allows users to control Prezi presentations and keep track of time using the Apple Watch. “This is a really easy way to help presenters know which slide they are on and whether they are over time, and they can easily navigate through the slides using their phone,” Pushparaja explained.

Skip Potter, one of the hackathon's judges, announced PreziRemote as one of the winners, stating, “PreziRemote had a ton of utility, like haptic sensors in the arm, being able to seamlessly integrate into the experience of doing a presentation. It just felt really like something you could use the Watch device for, and it would be really seamless as opposed to holding a phone out in front of you.”

During a presentation, the app will alert the presenter when time is up using color and other visual stimuli. “[If] we set the total presentation time to one minute, when it hits one minute, the Watch face goes completely red to indicate that you are totally out of time,” said Pushparaja.

In the initial proposal demonstration, Pushparaja and Iyer visually simulated the Apple Watch's face on screen. But once the app enters the actual Watch OS, it will also use sensory feedback like vibration to discreetly signal the presenter at certain points within the presentation — “one minute remaining” included.

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