Entertainment Reimagined at the Comcast NBCUniversal Hackathon
Two years after becoming one of the world's first Google Glass developers, Sean McCracken and his team took home the top prize at the Comcast NBCUniversal Hackathon in Orlando. The hackathon was one of an ongoing series created and organized by NBCUniversal’s Media Labs to bring top developers and designers together to innovate for our company and attract skilled technology talent to our businesses. Winning that competition led Sean to a job with Universal Creative. He’s packing up his home and family in New Mexico and preparing to move to Orlando, where he’ll be joining the Universal Creative team.
Early in his career as a game developer, Sean focused on creating games for iOS and Android devices. When the team behind Google Glass solicited ideas for their wearable augmented reality devices, Sean submitted a compelling pitch over social media. Google loved the idea and invited Sean to start building it out, but with one catch: Sean had to personally pick up the test equipment from an office in New York.
According to Sean, he didn't wait to return to his home in Albuquerque to get working. "I immediately started hacking [Glass] in the hotel room that night," Sean says. "By the time I got back to Albuquerque I had finished a little game called PSYCLOPs. I released the game to the small number of Glass Explorers, and one of them posted a video of my game."
PSYCLOPs earned praise from news outlets like The Guardian, Engadget, and GigaOm. With influencers like Robert Scoble in his corner, Sean started a company to "figure out the proper user experience for wearable devices through game development." He compares games for wearable tech to early PC games such as Minesweeper and Solitaire, which helped people figure out how to use a mouse. He "felt that games could help teach people how to use Smart Glasses."
Comcast NBCUniversal Hackathon grand prize winner Sean McCracken (left), landed a job with Universal Creative Studios, two years after becoming one of the world's first Google Glass developers.
Flash forward two years, to 2015. Sean’s friend Bill Klein, of Rival Theory, suggested that the two of them head to Orlando for the Comcast NBCUniversal Hackathon at the end of March. When Sean and his team got to Orlando, he noticed many teams signing up for the creative challenge. He shifted gears and entered the marketing challenge instead. He and his team developed a virtual reality experience, dubbed SorcerAR, which allows users to tour the popular Universal Studios attraction from their own homes.
Although he felt confident in his technology, Sean says he was surprised to end up taking home the grand prize. "Even though I had won other hackathons in the past, that was certainly the one with the largest pool of talent," he said, "I was just hoping to win one of the challenges going in."
Sean’s win led to some career-shaping introductions. He met members of the Universal Creative team at an ACM SIGGRAPH event, where he demonstrated SorcerAR. Some contract work validated Sean's ideas, leading to an offer to join Universal Creative full-time. "I am still in shock " Sean says. "It's an amazing honor and a dream job."
"We are very excited to have Sean on board with Universal Creative," says Sanjay Macwan, NBCUniversal Media Labs CTO. "He joins a growing number of talented tech hires from our hackathons."
In his new role, Sean says he can "focus on what I'm good at without getting held back by the daily business minutia. I have a truly talented team around me to bounce ideas off of. It's great."