By now, you’ve probably heard of the spate of killer clowns cropping up everywhere around the world. And if you haven’t, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered with ClownSpotter, a clown-tracking web app that keeps tabs on creepy unwanted guests. Find out where hostile clowns are lurking and avoid their funny business … or die.

If you’ve been following the news lately, you might have noticed there’s a worldwide infestation of killer clowns biding their time to murder you in your sleep. Yes, it’s true. This horrifying trend is the inspiration for ClownSpotter, a web app that lets you track, and thus avoid, killer clowns.

Users submit sightings of clowns in their area by uploading pictures along with the date and location. Of course, Clarifai’s visual recognition API is used to verify that the sighting is indeed a clown and not just some other horrifying beast in the wild. Check out the GitHub repo to look at where clowns have been spotted all across the globe!

clownspotter

WHY WE ❤ IT

We thoroughly enjoy hacks that help us avoid things we don’t like. We hate clowns, as does anyone with a soul and a healthy regard for human life, so naturally, we loved ClownSpotter. 

HOW YOU DO IT

In the spirit of spooky Halloween stories, we asked the ClownSpotter team to tell their not-so-terrifying tale of clown-tracking adventure in narrative prose instead of our usual Q&A format. Enjoy!

ClownSpotter Team: We got to the hackathon bright-eyed, with a laundry list of ideas to make a reality. We originally went with an idea that involved matching physical symptoms to a database of conditions using the image tag matching capabilities of the Clarifai API. At around midnight, however, we realized this project was not feasible, as we did not have the resources that we needed. However, we were set on completing a project by the end of the event.

clown4With only eleven hours, less than half of the event itself, left until our projects were due, we did the only thing we could do:

We panicked.

We took breathers and spent some time thinking about it. We walked around the building, ate some cookies, got some free T-shirts, and browsed through Facebook. We noticed a trend on our Facebook timelines — scary clowns roaming around parks and backyards. The more videos we saw of people getting chased by scary clowns, the harder we laughed. One of our team members, Jose, revealed to us that he was afraid of clowns. We could not believe that this trend had made it outside of the United States, to places like Great Britain and Australia.

clown3At one point during the night, we went for cupcakes at the Women’s session and decorated a cupcake for each member of our team. You could guess what we made our team member Jose …

A CUPCAKE WITH THE FACE OF A CLOWN. Needless to say, he was not amused.

Then, Susana convinced us that we should just do the funny idea of tracking clown sightings and ClownSpotter was born.

We honestly did not think that our project would win four awards. We were writing it for the exact same reason that people go to these kind of events – to have fun. It was something we had never done before; for school, we were always assigned projects that were practical, yet boring. This was a chance for us to write about something that was relevant and fun to us. Along with that, we all learned new pieces of technology and teamwork. We hope to get the site running soon and show the world something that we are proud to have made!

clown2After some hard work, we created a website that allows users to report creepy clown sightings and later see them on a map! Our website takes information like the location and the time to generate a database of clown sightings, which is then used to create a visual representation on a world map. This will allow our users to see where others in their area have spotted hostile clowns.

Our project is awesome because while it has a silly premise, it will still help alleviate the public’s worry. Concerned parents can look at our map to find out where clowns have been sighted in their area. They can rest assured knowing that other individuals can submit reports, which will help them steer clear from the clowns.

Our team did not expect to obtain the results of our project. We got prizes for the Most Topical Project, Best Hack Design, #HackHarassment, and Best Use of MongoDB! We were thrilled at this outcome and could not contain our excitement! We definitely learned a lot about technology but we also learned a lot about ourselves and how to work well with the rest of our team members.

What did each person do?

Ana: Helped the team brainstorm ideas and get organized, set up the Flask environment and showed other team members how to use git commands. Currently working on data visualization part of the site.

Susana: Designed the user interface, created a database using Eve and MongoDB, wrote php to translate the data between the form and the db.

Jose: Learned git commands, HTML and Flask. Currently working on getting images to transfer from upload site to database.

Sandra: Learned git commands and currently working on graphic design portions.

Diana: Worked on the front-end and used bootstrap to create the front page of the webapp.

clown1

Thanks for sharing, clowns!

To learn more, check out our documentation and sign-up for a free Clarifai account to start using our API – all it takes is three lines of code to get up and running! We’re super excited to share all the cool things built by our developer community, so don’t forget to tweet @Clarifai to show us your apps.

And give Ana, Susana, Jose, Diana, and Sandra some props in the comments below. Until next time!