Droplock, a Dropbox hack, wins BattleHack LA!

I spent the weekend at BattleHack LA, a hackathon put on by Braintree, and I had a great time working with a number of teams who integrated Dropbox into their projects. From car alarms to auctions to a tool that helps blind people run, I saw a lot of interesting Dropbox integrations. The team I ultimately chose to win the Dropbox category was Droplock: a tool that helps you when someone steals your laptop.

The Droplock team is depicted above. From left to right: Israel Torres, Brandon Whitney, and Ethan Wessel. (And that’s me on the right.)

As winners of the Dropbox category, everyone on the team won a Mini Jambox and 25GB of free Dropbox space. Brandon got a little too excited about his win and tweeted his free space code. :-) Amazingly, no one typed in the code and claimed his space before he got a chance!

Winning it all

In addition to their win in the Dropbox category, the team went on to win the entire event! That means Droplock will represent LA in the BattleHack world finals in November, with a chance to win $100,000 USD.

About Droplock

Droplock is a tool to help you when your laptop is stolen. The system consists of an agent that runs on the laptop and a website for the laptop owner. A user can report their laptop as stolen on the website, which tells the agent on the laptop to wake up and start tracking the stolen laptop. This is where the Dropbox integration starts.

When a laptop is reported as stolen, it starts storing files into Dropbox. It stores the laptop’s network information (external IP address, wireless network, etc.), and it takes pictures with the laptop’s built-in camera. Because everything is just stored in the local Dropbox folder, this works even if the laptop is offline. The next time the laptop is connected to the internet, the data will get sent to Dropbox.

The website gives the laptop’s owner a way to view the information from Dropbox (using the Core API), helping the owner to track down the location of the laptop and the thief who stole it!

In addition to tracking down the stolen laptop, Droplock had an interesting idea for allowing laptop thieves to redeem themselves. The thief is prompted with an option to donate to charity (through JustGiving, another BattleHack sponsor) or pay the laptop owner directly via Braintree. If they fail to take one of these options, the laptop gets locked down until payment is made.

As you can imagine, there isn’t time in a single hackathon to polish every aspect of the project. The team tells me they have plans to add some more functionality and make the project cross-platform. (Today it only works on OS X.) If you want to follow the team’s progress, check out their GitHub repo: https://github.com/3wit/Droplock-BattleHack.

About the Droplock team

The Droplock team consisted of Israel Torres (@theleovander), Ethan Wessel, and Brandon T. Whitney (@BxRadTweets). Ethan and Israel met as web development interns at Orange Coast College in 2011, and they’ve worked on a few iOS and Android apps together. Israel later met Brandon at California State University, Long Beach, where they took a database course together and collaborated on a few team projects.

Thank you to the BattleHack team at Braintree for including Dropbox in their event, and a big thanks to the Droplock team for building a great hack!