Catherine Zeng

HackMIT, MIT Sorting Hat

A Harry-Potter-inspired sorting hat that asks you personalized questions in order select a MIT dorm that culturally fits.

For HackMIT during Fall 2017, my friends and I built a Harry-Potter-inspired sorting hat that asks you personalized questions when you put it on in order to decide a MIT dorm that culturally fits you best.

Our project was built using NLP (to scrape MIT dorm information from the web and do sentiment analysis on user responses), microcontrollers (for servo motors and LEDs to give the hat life), Android (for speech recognition), and websockets (to communicate between different components). We were awarded the Best Internet of Things prize.

For more information about this project, see 1, 2.

I think the MIT Sorting Hat is a good representation of the kind of projects that my friends and I like to build.

Because we placed servo motors inside of the hat and randomized its movements, the hat could move. We also pre-recorded random statements that the hat grumbled when not being used.

sorting hat

Unfortunately, I don’t have a video of the hat in action :(

“(…), while others applied tech in an innovative way, making a real-life Harry-Potter-themed sorting hat, or (…)” - Brown CS Blog describing HackMIT 2017