MSFTHacks is a 24 hour hackathon sponsored by Microsoft, with the purpose of promoting Microsoft technologies. This is my 2nd hackathon experience, and I can truly say that the hackathon pushed my boundaries which helped me grow as a developer.

In a team of 4, I worked with Natalie, Shanice, and Andrew to build a bot to recommend recipes when given an image of food. (Our team gelled together quite well and we communicated clearly to each other what we were working on. Thanks, team!)

Approximately 1/3 of the food produced in the world (1.3 billion tonnes) is wasted each year. Furthermore, the average American throws away 16% of their purchased food, amounting to $640 each year. We aimed to solve the world’s food wastage problem by incentivizing users to buy only what is needed rather than blindly shopping. You can pick up an eggplant, take a photo of it from Facebook messenger, and the bot will send you back different recipes of eggplants, such that you would buy only what’s necessary to cook with.

A Microsoft representative, Justin Garrett, even said that he would consider using our bot when he goes grocery shopping. I was very excited that our technology received validation.

Although we did not win the hackathon, I found the experience extremely rewarding because I was able to learn about some amazing technologies. It was my first experience using Node.js, and the time it took me to learn the basics were surprisingly short! I attribute the ability to become fluent in a short period time to Gregor, my CPSC 110 professor (the course review can be found here).

Additionally, I worked on the connection of the Computer Vision API from Microsoft Cognitive Services. I also deployed the application on Microsoft Azure, integrated the service with Facebook Messenger, and tried to link our application to Microsoft’s NoSQL DocumentDB. Unfortunately, we ran out of time before I could complete the backend set-up. However, this is a direction that I am interested in exploring in the future.

Some screenshots of our bot in action:


Due to Facebook’s bot approval process, it is only accessible to our team at the moment. However, the code we wrote be found here:

I had a great deal of fun during the hackathon and learned about exciting cloud technologies. Going forward, I hope to expand my knowledge of the Azure platform and deploy additional apps using other Microsoft services.

Shoutout to all the Microsoft representatives who stayed up all night to help us build our bot:

Thank you, Anthony Chu, Nastassia Rashid, Andy Tung, and Michael Hou!

And, thanks to Microsoft for all the swag!

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