NEW YORK — There could be (virtual) gold in them there hills — actually, in just about any physical object — thanks to the winners of PayPal’s Battle Hack event in New York City over the weekend.
Yosun Chang and Brian Kehrer of team DropDeadAR trounced the competition with an application that attaches PayPal funds to real-world objects in specific locations, using a combination of augmented reality (AR) technology and location data. Think of it like a virtual dead drop.
The pair’s prize: A trip to PayPal’s headquarters in San Jose, Calif., where they’ll take on nine other Battle Hack winners for a cash prize of $100,000. (They also won an ax trophy, raised triumphantly above.)
The Battle Hack competition — 24-hour hackathons in 10 cities across the United States and Europe — is PayPal’s latest effort to attract the developer community, led by John Lunn, its global director of developer relations.
“There are two reasons we’re doing this … you get developers to come in for 24 hours and play with your things, you can see what works and what doesn’t, and it’s a thank you to the developer community,” Lunn said in an interview with VentureBeat. He expects the final competition to be something akin to a World Cup battle among developers — something that hasn’t yet been attempted by a company PayPal’s size.
In DropDeadAR’s case, Lunn said found the team’s implementation of payments to be pretty clever. To access a payment in an object, you just need to head to a specific location and locate the object with your phone (or Google Glass). It could be useful down the line for augmented reality games and perhaps even promotional offers with brands.
PayPal’s recent focus on developers seems to be paying off. After launching its new REST API in March, which made it easier for developers to implement PayPal within their apps, Lunn tells me more than 50,000 developers have adopted them.
“This year is about moving the majority of what people want to do with PayPal onto REST, next year is about new stuff,” he said. Ultimately, PayPal is aiming to make it easier for developers to build a payment company on top of its services. “We’ve done the hard slog, we’ve connected all the banks, we’ve dealt with the legislation.”