Announcing our pick for Most Useful Everyday Hack at PennAppsX…

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We’re big fans of PennApps, and this is the second year we had the privilege of awarding $1,500 to the team with the Most Useful Everyday Hack. With so many impressive projects to choose from, it was a tough call! But we ultimately decided one app best fit the bill.

And the winner is…


listenUP uses ambient noise detection to automatically lower your volume when someone starts speaking to you (or when they specifically say your name). To say this would help a lot of people at 50onRed daily is putting it lightly.


The charismatic crew behind listenUP caught our attention during PennAppsX demos, when they flagged down our team for a live demonstration. We caught up with one of the listenUP hackers, Sunny Nahar, to get the backstory to listenUP and find out what they’re planning to do with their hack after PennApps. Check out the Q&A!

How did your team come together?

Our team formed pretty much on the spot. We all got into PennAppsX and we were all from CMU (Carnegie Mellon University), but none of us had a team. The first time we met each other was about a week before the hackathon.

Any stories about hacking listenUP?

About 12 hours in, we still hadn’t decided whether listenUP was the project we would be working on. Our team was experimenting with different hardware in the hopes that we could develop something interesting. We hadn’t been able to find the proper APIs for our idea to work, but after some time, we slowly began to construct the pieces of what would later become listenUP.


Are you planning to take this idea past PennApps?

We think this idea has a lot of potential. Right now, there’s only a desktop version, so we plan on building it for different mobile platforms as well. There are also quite a few extensions we had in mind, for example, alerting you if your phone was ringing (only yours, not anyone else’s)!

Congrats, guys! We wish you the best and hope you continue to use your tech-savvy talent to create even more awesome stuff.

Check out our PennAppsX recap to browse photos from the event and read highlights from our mentors.