Awesome Netflix/Fitbit Hack Detects When You’ve Fallen Asleep, Auto-Pauses Your Movie

Next Story

After Being Acquired By Yahoo, Personal Assistant App Donna Shuts Down

Done right, internal hackathons are awesome. They encourage company developers to build all the crazy stuff that they’d normally never dabble with, be it for lack of time, fear that their co-workers/bosses would think they’re nuts, or because their ideas are just too far from “the company vision” or whatever. When all that’s on the line is bragging rights and beer, people build surprisingly awesome stuff.

Like this hack from Netflix’s internal 24 hour Hack Day. It uses the data from a Fitbit to determine when you’ve fallen asleep while watching a streaming movie, and pauses your flick at that spot:

Fun fact: If you follow me on Twitter (you really should. I throw secret dinners for select followers at least once a month. And by “secret dinners” I mean I heat up a Hot Pocket and by “select followers” I mean me. But do it anyway), you might remember that I tweeted pretty much this exact idea (but with audio books) yesterday. A coincidence, I swear! While I wasn’t there and am just hearing about this Hackathon today, it actually went down a week ago — so these guys had this idea way before me. Plus, I’m sure I’m the 9 millionth person to have that idea.

But wait, there’s more! Here are a few other entries that Netflix opted to share — no word here on who won.

Playlists lets you build multiple playlists (instead of having one big queue), and skip back and forth between movies/shows without going back to browse.

Radial is a keyboard for typing out search queries on consoles, allowing for much faster input over the oddly-common linear keyboard found on most consoles.

Netflix Beam lets your friends temporarily use your Netflix account on their own devices when they’re at your house, and automatically logs them off when they leave

PIN protected profiles lets you lock down your profile on a shared account with a 4-digit pin, so that your friends/kids/burglars can’t screw with your queue:

Any and all of these would make damned fine additions to Netflix’s feature set*. Seriously. Give them to me. Alas:

We should also note that, while we think these hacks are very cool and fun, they may never become part of the Netflix product, internal infrastructure, or be used beyond Hack Day.

[* You know what else would be a damned fine addition to Netflix’s feature set? An API that isn’t awful and/or friggin’ CLOSED, so that people outside of Netflix could build awesome things.]