Gearing up for Mobitel’s I/O Hackathon

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Google I/O 2015 is this week, but that’s not all. Mobitel is also organizing a Hackathon. Held at the Mobitel Innovation center at Trace Expert City in Maradana, the hackathon will be a 36 hour event beginning on the 27th at 9am and will end at 12am on the 29th. An event of this scale would obviously attract a great dea of attention, and boy did it ever. I hopped on over to the Innovation Centre. My first impression of the office itself was that it was a really cool place, literally. The air conditioning was very welcome and I actually spend a good 10 minutes just soaking in the cool breeze.

Speaking with Minali of Mobitel, I found out that over 60 teams had registered for the event. From these 30 teams have been shortlisted and asked to come to the Innovation Centre to pitch their idea.

Of these 30 teams, only 10 teams will make it through and proceed to take part in the hackathon. As mentioned above, if selected, the teams have 36 hours to develop their projects. In addition they also get Rs. 15,000 in cash to purchase hardware for their products, if needed. Mobitel would provide some of the hardware such as Raspberry Pi and Texas Instruments Sensor tags, but the rest is upto the teams.

Mobitel's Innovation Centre. Pretty cool
Mobitel’s Innovation Centre. Pretty cool

The main idea and theme for this year’s hackathon revolves around IoT (Internet of Things) and as such, the teams will have to base their ideas around this concept. Time to let that brain juice flow.

I noted some of the ideas which I particularly found interesting. One such idea was a concept revolving around public transport. Their premise is that if you want to know what buses will pass through the bus halt nearest to you, their app will do so. In addition, if you want to get to a certain place from your location, the app will display the relevant bus route and also indicate the location of the nearest bus. In addition, based on the current location of the user, the buses that will go passing his/her location will be shown. From an implementation perspective, the hardware would simply be a smartphone and a module for the bus in order to record its location. One comment by the judges was to integrate it with IoT as the data collected will be in a large datacenter.

The next team connected to the Judges via a Google Hangouts video call as they were geographically impaired. Their project revolves around vehicle safety, more specifically with regard to leaving children alone in a vehicle such as a car or a jeep. Their example was leaving a child in a car on a hot day. This can harm the child as there is no ventilation inside the vehicle and even result in death. The system will monitor ambient temperatures and issue a warning if there is an increase in temperatures. How far this would prove useful remains to be seen as Sri Lanka has barely enough space to park vehicles let alone parents leaving their children in them.

Another concept we found intriguing was an attempt to integrate mobile banking with RFID tags for a supermarket. Essentially, all items will be tagged and the moment a customer takes an item, it will be registered at the Point of Sales and added to his/her bill. Details on exactly how the customer’s purchases will be added to the cart and how the payments will be processed were a bit hazy and the team looked a bit unsure on the idea itself. Let’s just see how it works out.

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Smart wearables were the main area of focus for the next team. More specifically, a smart band that can connect with other wearers in an attempt to break the ice and start a conversation. It can even connect the wearer to those with similar interests and even be the stepping stone for something more. A similar idea was launched by a group of students from MIT’s Media Lab called “Social Textiles” in February. The concept looks very interesting and I shall be keeping an eye on them.

Another wearable concept is brought to the table, this time aimed at tracking and location based services. For example, if you take your child to a park, you can embed a tracker powered by either Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or GPS to track his/her whereabouts. Interesting, but not what you would call groundbreaking.

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After lunch came a really cool idea. A smart home. But with a twist. Unlike traditional smart homes, this requires little to no interaction with the system. Rather the system intelligently monitors all aspects of the house and adapts accordingly providing a dynamic user experience. I for one find it a tad creepy if my house knew things about me without me knowing that it knew. This too shall be scrutinized if they get selected.

The next team is aiming to provide an innovative power management system for a greener tomorrow. It revolves around analyzing the usage statistics of a consumer and then cut down on electricity in order to save power and money. The device is to be installed between the main power line to a house and the circuit board aka the “trip switch”. The device will have a web interface complete dashboard and various details such as usage patterns etc. The team even plan to have competitions where those with the highest saving of electricity are the winners.

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Looks like there are some pretty cool ideas coming. Stay tuned with us as we will be covering the Hackathon as it happens on the 27th. Till then, Ciao peeps.

4 COMMENTS

  1. That awkward moment when almost none of the teams the writer found “interesting” made it to the shortlist…
    Sad that mobitel seemed to focus more on the business plan than the techy details of the project.

  2. How come our idea is there in this list and didnt get selected?
    Did Mobitel just brain f*ck the best ideas and selected few scrappy ideas?

  3. Well did they actually sent out emails to the selected people? Did they do a mistake?
    We have our idea there in this post as well. Lets see what were the projects that got selected tomorrow!! 🙂

  4. Nope as Sayuru said they appear to have chosen based on how much they can earn through the chosen projects. Sad but true.. We didn’t get chosen either… It would have been better if someone actually qualified to recognize an idea based on uniqueness rather than how much it will earn. OR they should have said clearly that this is a competition for business ideas rather than a “hackathon”!

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