Santa Party

Remote Work 2020 Hackathon: Branded Video Chat Software

What was the challenge/problem your team wanted to solve?

Santa Claus was exposed to COVID-19 via contact with an elf that tested positive.  To reduce risk, Santa went into a mandatory two week quarantine.  

To continue conversations with kids from the Nice List, Santa wanted his own video chat software branded with the North Pole™ official style guide. 

What was your initial idea that you wanted to build?

We built a secured React portal with the following features:

  • Live video/audio from Santa’s webcam (Chime)
  • Live chat from Nice List kids who could ask Santa for toys (Chime)
  • Ability to broadcast the production feed to television and cable (MediaLive)
  • Ability for moderator to select kids to ask Santa directly via their own webcams on the live feed (Chime)
  • Ability for moderator to host 1-1 screening video interviews with kids prior to promoting them to the production feed (Chime)

What were the top 1-2 obstacles you encountered?

  • Kids that were approved to have live chat with Santa were sometimes dropped from the call, which may lead them to think they were demoted to the Naughty List.
  • Chime SDK has a lot of features, and a lot of state management, which makes it challenging to grok within a 48 hour hackathon.

What were the top 1-2 wins/successes you had while working on the project?

  • Chime is difficult to grok quickly, so thankfully their team has built some solid SAM templates to accelerate.  We leaned in heavily to them.
  • The React portal was visually fun and thematic.

What end product did you ultimately build?

Exactly what we set out to build!

What were the top 3 things you learned?

  • SAM is really the way to go.  Our prior hackathons were all CloudFormation but SAM really simplifies the process.
  • Chime is a rich SDK that is difficult to quickly grok and we’d recommend developer onboarding time be added to schedules.
  • Building feature rich video platforms isn’t as big a challenge as it seems, and companies can safely consider this option instead of using 3rd party products.
Date posted: December 21, 2020

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