Netflix Hack Day Uncovers Creative Potential

Netflix Hack Day 2014

Falling asleep in the middle of a House of Cards binge-watching session is the worst. And Netflix workers understand that. Which is why a team of engineers developed a hack that combines Fitbit data with the streaming service to ensure you never miss another minute of the Underwoods’ schemes.

During the company’s internal 24-hour Hack Day last week, Sam Horner, Rachel Nordman, Arlene Aficial, Sam Park, and Bogdan Ciuca built a sleep tracking system, which communicates between the fitness tracker and Netflix to fade out audio and pause the video when the wearer nods off.

And instead of fighting your groggy memory to recall during which scene you slipped away, just turn on Netflix and restart playback from where the stream ended, or where you fell asleep.

Check out the sleep tracking hack in action in the team’s video below.

”It is not unusual for us to see a lot of really good ideas come from Hack Day, but last week we saw some really spectacular work,” Netflix engineering leads Daniel Jacobson, Ruslan Meshenberg, Matt McCarthy, and Leslie Posada wrote in a blog entry.

During the two-day event, teams began hacking Thursday morning, and wrapped up Friday morning, in time to present a demonstration to their peers (pictured).

”The hackers generated a wide range of ideas on just about anything, including ideas to improve developer productivity, ways to help troubleshooting, funky data visualizations, and of course a diversity of product feature ideas,” the company said.

Once the ideas were categorized, employees rated each hack on a five-star scale, designating a winner in each group.

Netflix revealed some of its favorites, including Netflix Beam, which uses Bluetooth LE and iBeacons to eliminate the hassle of sharing a Wi-Fi password or signing in and out when someone else wants to temporarily log in.

And since Netflix quietly did away with its queue option, one team created a modern answer to the what-to-watch-next question: Custom playlists. Users can add titles or individual episodes, which can be saved by theme or occasion. Skip through content on the list without ever having return to the home Browse page.

Other hacks include pin-protected profiles and Radial—a new way of typing on your game console.

But don’t hold your breath for sleep-induced content pausing or personalized playlists.

”While we think these hacks are very cool and fun, they may never become part of the Netflix product, internal infrastructure, or be used beyond Hack Day,” the company said. ”We are surfacing them here publicly to share the spirit of Netflix Hack Day.”