Imagine a room filled with people who are not afraid to think outside the box, are not limited to their knowledge and resources, and instead, share ideas and their unique skill sets with others. 

That is what a hackathon is. It’s talented and creative individuals who come together to imagine and bring to life new and innovative technology. By the end of a hackathon, there will be dozens of products that didn’t exist days prior, and maybe one of them will go on to change the world.

While there are various hackathon types, such as virtual hackathons, health hackathons, or data science hackathons, we’re focusing on AR/VR hackathons today. Read on to learn more!

What are AR and VR Hackathons?

A virtual hackathon is a fun and competitive event where people from all sectors, including entrepreneurs, designers, developers, and so on, come together for a weekend to bring new and innovative ideas to life. 

Teams are formed based on people with similar interests, and by the end of the weekend, there are a dozen or so groundbreaking new products showcased. Software hackathons are considered code fests, and they involve programming, telling a computer what to do. Hardware hackathons involve physical parts that process data. AR and VR hackathons are unique because they are about creating virtual experiences.

AR stands for augmented reality and usually comes in the form of an interactive app that enhances objects in the real world. An example of this would be the Pokemon Go app.

VR stands for virtual reality, which is an immersive and simulated experience that can be of the real world or something completely different. Virtual reality usually requires the use of a VR headset or other device for varying levels of immersion. An example of virtual reality is a game that fully immerses users using a headset and gloves. 

The event will also host several speakers, usually with some of the best makers from worldwide. During the 48 hours, there is free food, drinks, and interesting conversation with like-minded and creative people. During the last day, groups present their product in front of a panel of judges, and the lucky winners get cash prizes and resources to finalize their prototypes.

Benefits of Organizing a Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality Hackathon

One of the best things about hosting a hackathon is that it allows people to think outside the box. The best ideas and designs are born out of drive, inspiration, and collaboration, which is precisely what this event brings.


At a hackathon, teams get pitted against one another at a chance to win prize money, resources, and notoriety. This event isn’t what you would call strenuously competitive, but more on the friendly side. 

Everyone throws out ideas, and each individual brings something new to the table. Friendly competition motivates, inspires, increases attention, effort, and productivity. What you get in the end are multiple high-quality and innovative products that didn’t even exist 48 hours prior.

No Constraints

In this atmosphere, people can throw out any idea they have. No idea is too far-fetched. Unfortunately, most average workplaces don’t invite radical new ideas, stifling their employees' passions and creativity. 

The hackathon space is perfect for those who have been restrained at work to be able to let loose their creative juices. When people are confined to only thinking inside the box, they rarely ever produce anything worthy of praise. 

Fosters Creativity

A hackathon is more than just an event. It is where visions come to life. Each team is put in separate rooms and given limited materials to make their prototypes. This might seem counterintuitive, but limiting people to only using what’s on hand can lead to quicker inventions. 

They might be more on the rough side, but they will be better than a sketch of a prototype, and problems can be solved a lot faster when you don’t have to wait for materials and supplies. Frequently, individuals can be held back creatively by waiting weeks to finish a prototype. 

At a hackathon, they ask the question of what can you accomplish in two days? For many, this is a groundbreaking concept. The result is ingenious and imaginative tech.

How to Run a VR Hackathon: A Full 7-Step Guide

There are many moving parts to prepare for and run a hackathon, but it doesn’t have to be stressful.

Follow this step-by-step guide to running the best VR hackathon.

Step 1: Screening and Registering Applicants

You will need about two weeks to process applications and screen teams and individuals. It’s essential to find people that will work well together if you want to pull off a great hackathon. Once you have selected your people, extend invitations and get them registered using event management software. 

You can also charge a ticket fee to lessen the number of people who won’t show up. Create an online social space for those registered to communicate and form teams before the event date.

Step 2: Sponsorship

Aligning the event with a brand can be a difficult decision because it has to be something that fits and makes sense. You want to choose a sponsor that is within the scope of sharing the event’s values, a company that participants can get on board with. 

When looking for a sponsor, you need to be very specific about the hackathon’s goals and try to reach out to brands that have sponsored related events. You can use online tools to find and secure a sponsor for the hackathon.

Step 3: Resources

An integral part of a hackathon has the necessary tools, materials, and resources. First, you must find a venue equipped with enough space to house the participants and all of the tools and various equipment. It would be wise to have a fully stocked electronics lab during the event.

Step 4: Catering

This may seem like a lesser detail to work out, but the food is a huge part of a hackathon. It’s necessary to provide all meals, snacks, and drinks for everyone for the whole 48 hours. 

You don’t want people having to leave to go get food, as it will cut into their time. Food and drinks are also crucial for keeping people awake and focused. It might be a good idea to find local caterers in the area so that you are supporting local businesses and also showcasing the city’s flavor.

Step 5: Cataloging

Documenting the event with photos is a great idea, not just for keepsakes but for sharing with others. This event inspires the more people. The more innovation keeps circulating. Since participants will most likely be too busy to document their work, hiring a photographer can help. You could even set up a studio where people might feel inspired to take photos of their team’s work.

Step 6: Select a Panel

You will need to find a panel of judges who can offer an unbiased review of each team’s product. Find judges who are professionals centered around AR/VR tech, like developers and engineers. You will also need to come up with prizes, which can include things like money and resources to bring a product to market. 

Step 7: Logistics

The logistics can be a pain for hackathons, but when planned properly, it doesn’t have to be. You will need to think about things like restrooms, showers, how and where to store belongings, parking, and internet. Another essential thing to consider is setting up a first-aid station and going over safety procedures with everyone participating in the event.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Hosting a Virtual Reality Hackathon

Many things can go wrong with any event, but doing proper research can help ease mishaps. These mistakes aren’t just for organizing but also to help the participants have an easier and more enjoyable time.

Read on for cool AR/VR hackathon hacks!

Mistake 1: Not Supporting Participants.

A common misconception is that participants should be left alone to figure things out on their own. One of the main reasons people participate in hackathons is to gain knowledge and experience and bring their ideas to life. 

How to Fix

Assign an experienced person to each team that can mentor them through the process. This will provide a more engaging, fun, and educational experience.

Mistake 2: Unstable Wi-Fi

This is another common problem during hackathons. That’s why during your planning phase, you should make sure the bandwidth of the venue’s wifi is sufficient. Unfortunately, this can still cause problems even with proper planning.

How to Fix

Apart from securing a venue with adequate wifi, it would be a good idea to encourage participants to download any drivers or software that they might need before the event.

Mistake 3: Not Enough Supplies

It can be frustrating for participants when there aren’t enough supplies to go around for everyone. Obviously, this is an even bigger concern due to COVID and other supply chain disruptions.

How to Fix

Secure as many supplies as you can, search for companies that allow you to pre-order and rent equipment, notify participants of the shortages and inform them to bring along their own supplies if possible.

Mistake 4: Rushing the Planning Process

One of the biggest mistakes of running a hackathon is planning everything last minute. This process cannot be rushed as it requires building relationships with companies and individuals.

How to Fix

Before even announcing the hackathon, reach out to as many people as possible and start collaborating with organizations. This will allow you to attract the right people and motivate others to join. 

5 Inspiring AR/VR Hackathon Project Ideas

Sometimes companies will have problems that they need to solve with certain products, and they will host hackathons to drive innovation within their industry.

Most hackathons have a general theme that is introduced and sometimes a sub-theme. Here are some interesting AR/VR hackathon topics that you can try out or get inspired and come up with your own.

Here’s how to find VR hackathon ideas.


  • VR pre-op, surgical plan where a patient can see inside their body and visualize the procedure
  • Using AR/VR to study a patient’s anatomy
  • Applications to view veins
  • VR medical training modules

Military and Law Enforcement

  • VR to train soldiers for combat and other dangerous situations
  • Apps to treat PTSD
  • AR tech that replicates a crime scene


  • STEM courses
  • Visualize arts and humanities
  • VR dissections for biology courses
  • Planetary immersion


  • VR headsets for dogs (service, combat, etc.)
  • AR apps that allow you to bring your pet with you
  • Visualize the animal kingdom using VR

Daily Life

  • Virtual retail experience 
  • AR wearables
  • VR sports 

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Final Points

Hackathons are events that drive innovation and artistry. They bring people together from all over the nation and allow them to think outside the box. They introduce friendly competition and foster creativity amongst peers. 

Organizing and running a hackathon doesn’t have to be difficult as long as you do the proper research and plan accordingly. By following the steps above: screening applicants, choosing sponsors, gathering resources, finding caterers, cataloging, selecting a panel, and taking care of logistics, you can ensure that the process will go smoothly. Common mistakes can be avoided with a little bit of prep work and communication with your team and participants.

Some hackathons can just be for fun, like creating VR games, while others can be more serious, like AR/VR training for medical and law enforcement professionals. The theme you choose will depend on your industry and that industry’s specific needs.

Remember, even if all doesn’t go as planned, the important thing is that people have fun and make memories that will last a lifetime. Hackathons are great because there is always the potential that something truly ingenious can come out of it and change the world for the better.