The view on the 15th floor of Dialog’s new HQ is indeed a spectacular one. How do we know? Well, quite simply, because we were there. No not to check out the view, but rather for a hackathon. Yes they do seem to be popping up all over the place aren’t’ they? Oh well, ‘Tis the season to be hacking I guess.
This hackathon to be more precise, was organized by Dialog Ideamart in conjunction with the University of Moratuwa. Called “MoraHack 2015, it is the 3rd annual hackathon organized in collaboration with the E Club of University of Moratuwa. That being said however, akin to the Hackathon organized by the university of Peradeniya, this too was only open to undergraduates from University of Moratuwa.
The event kicked off with a bit of motivation from Ruwan Dissanayaka. You may remember him from TADHack 2014. Ruwan is a tech entrepreneur today and was also a member of the winning team during MoraHack 2013. Getting up on stage, he shared his own insights with regards to his experience with MoraHack.
“It is rather useless even if you build a number of features onto the app but fails in the demo if you can’t present it. Implement at least one thing that works.”
His primary example was TaxiBuddy, a product that came up as a result of the hackathons and is now making a name for itself in the industry and the startup behind it, Extrogene Software which Ruwan runs to this date.
Up next was Shafraz Rahim introducing the hackathon and the rules and regulations to the participants. Each product must incorporate at least one API foformIdeamart API. Shafraz also adviced the teams to carry out their own market research and directed them towards social media platforms as they offer the widest possible area to target your products.
“Make use of Facebook groups to get insights and comments on your product.” he said.
With rules set in stone (well not literally, but you get the general idea), it was then time to hear the ideas from the teams. Each team would nominate a single member to present the potential problems that they have identified, the product they would build and the features that the proposed system would incorporate. We saw a range of ideas based on Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, IoT and even Wearables.
And with that, the teams disperse to their preassigned tables to begin on their projects. They have a little over 12 hours to come up with an entire solution for a problem they have identified. To help them, there’s Redbull and Sri Lanka’s favorite murukku in various dishes available. The ambient party music also helps pumps things up a notch.
Saturday dawns bright and rather cool (although the latter is probably due to the central A/C in the Dialog HQ). 12 hours have passed and the teams are just adding the finishing touches on their projects as well as their presentations. Remember, it’s not only the coding, there’s a presentation as well. Both must be equally attended to in order to win over the panel of judges.
Each team will be given a total of 15 minutes for their presentation, 7 of which is purely for the presentation and the remaining 8 minutes is for the judges Q&A session.
Team AnRo was up first with their project titled “Online Energy Meter”. Sounds simple? Well it actually is. It’s a device that can measure the elements such as the power flow and energy levels of electrical appliances that are connected to it. This is also helpful for government organizations as they can monitor power levels remotely without visiting individual houses or construction schemes.
Team ARTron was up next with what they refer to as a “revolutionary” new product that would help children interact with objects. Called “Smart Book”, we saw the same project at MIT GSL Demo day. It basically scans any image from a book and presents it in your smartphone via a mixture of augmented and virtual reality.
Team BitMasters’s AMPlus project is also nothing new as we saw it at this years’ Hackathon 2015 powered by Google. It’s basically a digital signboard that can analyze the viewer’s gender, age and even the time of day and display relevant advertisements. It uses a number of algorithms and competes with the likes of intuilAB, Phillips Signage Solutions and BrightSign.
Team Captiosus’s Uniployer project was up next. This is basically a service platform where you can match university students with professional medium and large scale companies. So rather than hire professionals to get your work done, you can opt for this as it is cheaper and offers the students experience in those fields. The signup process is rather simple involving USSD codes and a secret key. According to the team, a possible competitor could be Parttimejobs.lk.
Team Enigma certainly had some wheels spinning (and heads too) with their project titled Autowheels. It offers users a platform to buy, sell, and maintain vehicles. You also can buy spare parts. Rather than go by model, you can search by the shape of your car. As for features, it comes packed with everything but the kitchen sink (which may get added via a service pack update). It uses a 3D model of the car you have selected which according to them is the first time that it has been used and has a list of repair shops if your car breaks down and has target based location advertising such as brand and price range for vehicles. If you are in an area, the app would send you offers if available.
Team Navitaz was up next with their project which uses a mixture of Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Google Cardboard. The app basically splits the display into two equal areas and displayes identical content on them both. The cardboard is then used to fuse both images together and the augmented reality kicks in when certain areas of the content are interactive and seem to “pop” out at the user. Quite an interesting concept, repetitive, but interesting.
Next up another familiar face – Team Romankaarayo. We have seen them on many an occasion, the most recent being Hackathon 2015 organized by Mobitel. Their project, Spandha is a web based SMS based personal health tracking system that enables the user to keep a check on the location, vitals and heartbeat of their loved ones. The location is tracked by USSD/SMS.
Team Titan was up with their project “Glamor”. The next generation fashion community, they can add outfits from retail outlets via a web portal available to the community. It also tracks preference and has location based suggestions on discounts and special offers.
Team Waves was the last team for the day. Their project “M-Switch” allows users to stay in control wherever he/she goes. Think of it as a smartphone application to monitor and control appliances in your household, based entirely on USSD codes. The initial setup requires a User ID and password. From there you can select the categories of appliances and then switch them on and off as required.
With that the presentations came to a close. Hasanthaa Malavipathirana, President of E Club, Department of Electronics and Telecommunication was on stage to deliver a speech on the hackathon whilst the judges convened in the adjoining hall to tally the scores to decide the winners.
After a brief break (during which we explored Dialog’s brandspanking new HQ and took a selfie too) we were back at the hall for the announcement of the winners.
*Insert drumroll here*
With that, MoraHack 2015 officially came to a close. Kasun Withanaarachchi was up on stage to deliver the vote of thanks followed by Shafraz Rahim who thanked the judged, his team mates at Dialog and Ideamart and the participants.
What good is an event without some crazy memories right? Well we too got involved in some funky pictures before we headed back home. Another event, done and dusted.
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