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Hulu Hackathon Adds “Virtual Masks”, “Guest Mode”, and “Haptic Video”

Stephanie Sengwe

No other industry is as rife for virtual collaboration as the tech industry, and this year’s Hulu Hackathon proved just that. The seventh annual event went off without a hitch as teams comprised of members from across the nation came together to create some of the most innovative projects to solve complex technological problems, and explore exciting new product possibilities for Hulu.

“Despite teams being entirely remote, a record number of Hulu employees and interns participated in the Hackathon this year. Interns who’d never interacted in person teamed up across states and time zones to create some of the event’s most impressive projects,” the company said in a statement.

With the pandemic still raging, this year’s event featured a special awards category, Spotlight on Helpful Hulugans, which urged participants to design projects that “ease the stress of working remotely, help Hulugans connect with important resources, and/or create opportunities for community engagement.”

This year’s Hackathon projects included:

Hulu Guest Mode

With Hulu Guest Mode, Hulu subscribers can create a special profile for house guests or visitors that doesn’t affect or reveal their saved shows, recommendations or account information. The feature benefits guests, too: while in Guest Mode, users can quickly establish viewing preferences and personalize their experience to get to their favorite shows in a shorter amount of time.

Hulu Plan Builder

Hulu Plan Builder helps new subscribers customize their Hulu plans from a wide range of offerings and add-ons. With an intuitive interface, the Hulu Plan Builder asks a series of questions related to budget and viewing habits, using the information to then recommend a plan that’s optimized for the subscriber’s needs and preferences.

Ads for Positive Actions

The winner in the Helpful Hulugans award category, Ads for Positive Actions, builds on Hulu’s interactive ad formats. This project repurposes Hulu’s innovative ad technology to connect viewers — via QR codes and optional text notifications — to nonprofit organizations and social justice initiatives.

The Masked Binger

Thanks to the Masked Binger project, Hulu’s cover images are now following CDC guidelines. This clever — and topical — project uses facial recognition technology to add digital masks to the characters and people featured in Hulu cover art, reminding Hulu viewers to stay safe and mask up.

Shareable Playlists

This is the perfect feature for anyone who has ever made a list of their favorite holiday TV episodes. The Shareable Playlists project lets Hulu users create curated playlists of their favorite content and send their recommendations to family and friends.

Haptics for Streaming Video

This innovative Hackathon project applies haptics — the science and study of how people understand information through touch — to streaming video, unlocking an exciting new dimension of storytelling. Imagine feeling your favorite Hulu TV shows and movies in addition to seeing and hearing them.

Context Switch

Context Switch is an internal tool that addresses a common problem: the stress and fatigue associated with working from home. The feature links with Hulu employees’ work schedules and sends out challenges, such as stretching exercises, throughout the workday via Slack to break up the monotony.

Acronym Breaker

A time-saving browser extension that explains Hulu-specific jargon for employees.


An ingenious new way for Hulu viewers to personalize their mobile viewing experience with customizable Hulu widgets.

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