Content delivery giant Netflix has been hosting Hack Day events for some time, giving its product development staff a break from their daily routine to experiment with new technologies and get creative. Design and engineering staff get together to find alternative ways to do things better at Netflix. From a retro VR viewing experience to a 3D software debugging solution, here are some of the creations that came out of Netflix's most recent Hackathon.
Hack Days are about getting a group of people together, giving them a limited amount of time to come up with something weird and wonderful. It doesn't have to be practical; the whole point is to push the boundaries and create something unique. Hopefully, the process will result in the discovery of a diamond in the rough; a product that can be refined and eventually commercialised.
There's no guarantee that any of these products will see the light of day but it's fun to explore what the Netflix team came up with in the company's latest Hack Day:
If you miss the good old days of strolling around your local video stores to discover new movies then you'll be a fan of Netflix Zone. It's an alternative viewing experience that transports you into a virtual video store using the HTC Vive virtual reality (VR) headset. Netflix content is presented as old school VHS tapes that automatically play when you pick them up.
This is similar to the VR concept of watching movies in a virtual cinema. Ten points for the nostalgia factor.
Dockercraft is already a thing so why not try and integrate other software tools into the world of Minecraft? The Netflix team did this for Spinnaker, an open-source, multi-cloud continuous delivery platform that is used for releasing software changes quickly.
Aptly named Spinnacraft, this Hack Day project brings Spinnaker into a 3D world so that developers can debug, detect bad instance health and collaborate with others in a Minecraft environment.
This project has a more practical application for Netflix customers. Typically, the lists of content that is displayed on your Netflix desktop homepage is determined by the company's own algorithms based on past movies you have seen.
Tetris basically lets you customise the row lists that comes up when you access Netflix through a browser. Doesn't sound very exciting but it's probably something that would be welcomed by heavy Netflix users.
Family Catch-Up Viewing
This one is specifically for families that share a Netflix account. If you're constantly getting into fights with family members because you've accidentally watched a show ahead of them, this tool will place a marker that tells you where other profiles left off when they have watched the same content. That way, you'll know where they're up to in an episode.
Essentially, this lets you use your smartphone as a wireless headset for your TV when you're watching Netflix, handy for when you need to keep noise to a minimum when your kids are asleep.
[Via Netflix Blog]