Twice a year, Netflix’s designers and engineers take a day off from regular work to put together the most innovative and unnecessary inventions they can imagine. It’s called a Hack Day, and in the past, they’ve made a version of House of Cards play on the original NES, turned Netflix into an old-school video rental store with the HTC Vive, and reimagined Narcos as a video game called Plata o Plomo.
The most recent Hack Day — hosted from August 17th to August 18th at Netflix’s headquarters in Los Gatos, California — turned out another crop of nostalgia-steeped ideas. A project called Teleflix wired a Raspberry Pi to a vintage AT&T telegraph key, translating an input of Morse code into USB keyboard scancodes. The aim there was to make a remote control with a single button that could be used to search a Netflix catalog. It’s not really a time-saver, but it’s fun that this guy got to wear a top hat. (You can read a full explanation of how the hack was put together on Guy Cirino and Alex Wolfe’s post-mortem blog post.)
Another project, Spookyflix, mimics the experience of Disney World’s Haunted Mansion ride: every face on the Netflix homepage is animated so that its eyes will follow you around while you scroll. Okay! This is totally useless, but could add a little much-needed levity and whimsy to your scary movie night.
Netflix’s big Hack Day recap post also asks the questions “Would you sign up for Netflix on a vending machine?” and “Which part of the TV experience do you think is the most expendable — perhaps the image part?” Netflix Audio Book Mode is exactly what it sounds like. It is a version of Netflix where all of the TV shows are actually just audio books — basically radio plays with a little bit of added narration. You might think this is not really an innovation, but rather simple gimmicky theft of a format that’s over a century old. But you might also respect Netflix’s blog editors for daring to suggest to the…