Organized by the Department of Statistics and Computer Science, University of Kelaniya, and held at the Dialog Iconic building, the semi-final round of HacKLN took place on the 10th of September 2017.The preliminary round of HacKLN 2017 took place a while ago, with 24 semi-finalists from a total of 60 teams being selected to take part in the semi-final round.

These 24 teams would compete to become the finalists to go on to the final round that would be held in October this year. The theme of the hackathon was “What would you do in 2017 to improve life at 3017”. Each team would present a product or service that they felt would be of use even a thousand years from now.

Onwards With The Presentations

Each team would have 3 minutes to make their presentation and a further 2 minutes would be given for any questions to be asked by the mentors/judges. A further minute would be given to calculate the team scores, during which time the next team could come to the stage and set up.

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The Mentors gearing up for the presentations

The first team at HacKLN was Team Transcoders

Their idea for HacKLN? ShineALife. They call it a modern education fund. The problem they identified is that most students would face financial issues when it comes to obtaining primary, secondary and even higher education. By using the hashtag #shinealife, you could donate to an online portal. Once the donation is complete, it would be shared on social media platforms with that hashtag. The solution would also make use of a JavaScript plug-in for advertising on other sites along with a USSD based donation gateway. They also make use of cryptocurrency as well. The judges advice was to find out a way to see what the minimum amount of funding would be.

Team Erudites was next at HacKLN

They address a rather common problem: Freezing office syndrome. Its weird to see your friends taking a sweater to work, t if you’re in the tropics. This is where the Smart A/C Controller 1.0 comes into play. By means of a mobile app with sensors, it will take into account external temperatures and humidity. From there, it will take the temperatures values that are entered by those inside to decide an average temperature and go ahead with that. In order to calculate outside humidity, they would also user external sensors. One point that the mentors brought up was how the device would work in a centralized A/C environment.

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Team Erudites presenting

Team Fluke

Their Product, Academia aims at a platform that would be handy for a lecturer or teacher to know if their student are paying attention to the lectures. Academia will notify students when they’re not focusing on lessons, they will also get a audio clip of the lecture. If they miss a lecture, they will get a notification about it. From the lecturer’s point of view, it will notify the lecturer that their students are not paying attention. By using a camera, deep learning and facial recognition and computer vision, the platform will notify either lecturers or students. A note by the judges was that students may not pay attention to the class anyway because they would just rely on the audio recordings.

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Team Fluke presenting

Team MM Smart Klub (with a K)

Their product is an online restaurant management system. It would essentially allow a customer to make reservations from their home before they go to the restaurant. You can also choose what you would like to eat and book a table so by the time they’re at the restaurant, everything would be in place. The platform can be adapted depending on their requirement.

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Team MM Smart Klub presenting

Team Castle Black

Their product was an automated bicycle tracking system for parents who have children. The platform has features such as a speed checker, location tracker and can check if the bicycle has met with an accident. If your child meets with an accident or goes out of the predetermined range, the system will generate an alert and notify both the child and the parent. They would use sensors on the bicycle to record these data.

Team Kavalens

Their product tEye is aimed at healthy living. In the year 3017, they would need clean air and clean water. Their solution is a device that takes the composition of air and water to notify you if the air and water us usable or not. It is primarily aimed at travelers. Their end goal would be to make users aware how precious water and air is. For air, they would use carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and radiation levels as well. For water, they would use turbulence levels to see if the water is safe for bathing.

Team Nexus

Their product is a virtual vehicle sales assistant. This is aimed for those who are aiming to purchase a new vehicle. Buying a vehicle is not a simple task. By using QR codes, you can scan the vehicle and view AR demos, and then proceed to purchase the vehicle if you’re happy with it. The app would be on the Google Play Store and Apple Store as well. They would promote leasing companies when purchasing vehicles.

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Team Nexus presenting

Team Solutia wants us to keep cool

They aim to solve a common problem: the struggle to get cooled from a fan. Their solution is a smart fan rotation system. When a person enters a room, the fan would detect it and and track the person as he/she moves. If the person moves out of the room, the fan would switch itself off to save power. A note to highlight was that thus far, this was the most practical idea put forth by a team so far.

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Team Solutia presenting

Team Riuscita was up next

Their solution is a human teaching and learning process platform. They identify a number of problems such as loss of focus, pen-paper struggle and first come-only served issues. The result? Lec Buddy. This has the ability to create notes in real time . The system would involve a platform for lecturers, students and a separate device.

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Team Riuscita presenting

For example if you cant see the white board or blackboard, the system would automatically generate notes for you so that you don’t miss anything. By means of a camera, the device would recognize the handwriting of the lecturer and then convert it via OCR. The judges noted that even now, blackboards and white boards are becoming obsolete and a such, the platform would be redundant.

Team Tech Morphs

Their product is a Smart Wakkada. In case you don’t know what that means, a Wakkada is a sluice gate that is used to control the level of water that enters a paddy field. The team wants to add a bitof technology to this by making it a smart gate. They want to motivate people to do more farming with less effort and it minimises physical integration.s

Team Infinitia

They want to revolutionize advertising. Their product iHypeNG takes augmented reality to a new level. Simply take out your phone and point it to a solution of this nature and you will have a fully interactive experience at your fingertips. This is essentially a mobile app that users can interact with.

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Team Infinitia presenting

Team FitMe was up next

By the year 3017, obesity will be a predominant problem. Using inspiration from Pokemon Go and Tamaguchi, they want people to set up goals to achieve calorie burns. They would use a virtual pet whom they can feed. They engage users to remind them to eat at the right time and work out at the right time as well. By adding gamification elements and a leadaerboard, they would track the users calorie burn. By snappng a pcicture of what you’re eating, they would use Google Vision to track the amount of calories in the food to see if its healthy or not. Essentially, the pet would reflect what you eat. If you get fat, your pet gets fat.

Team Ameliorer

The team wants to make their own digital marketplace. In Sri Lanka, there is no digital marketplace for clients and professionals. They identify that in 3017, the number of professionals will outnumber the amount of available jobs. With this platform, they can seek empployment and even work from home.

Team Codemins

They want to keep Sri Lanka safe by presenting a Disaster management system. The proposed system would generate an alarm to the DMC and broadcast a signal to the radio towers where the disaster is about to happen. From there, the towers would broadcast a message to the mobile users in that area via a message so that they will be alerted about imminent disasters. Think of it as an enhanced DEWN. A note that the mentors brought up was that if you can send messages to users in the area, that means that 3rd parties can track your location, thus violating privacy. However, if they were to contact the service provider and then tell them to push the message, that would be better placed.

Team Return Zero was the last team for the morning session at HacKLN

These guys were cooking something, literally. Their product is Cook Mate, a cook’s companion. The problem they found is that 15-20% of food that is cooked in a restaurant’s kitchen is thrown away. Their solution? An AI platform that will calculate exactly how much food needs to be prepared for n event based on the number of people attending the event. If people can use the device from now itself, by the year 3017, food pollution will no longer be a problem.

Following a hearty lunch where we got to share our views with some of the mentors and the team as well, we had the afternoon session of HacKLN.

Team Originators

Water pollution in Sri Lanka is a problem and we blindly consume water without wondering whether it’s clean. What if there was a way to inform people that the water they drink is clean? This is what Ecowater does. It checks water sources like water tanks to see if they’re contaminated and then shut off the water supply after informing them. You can regularly check the quality of the water supply by sending an SMS. The judges pointed out that many of the answers they gave were prepared on the spot.

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Team Originators presenting

Team 8bit

This is a smart plant pot. It has sensors that measure the different metrics of a plant like whether it gets enough sunlight, moisture, etc. It then sends this data for you to see on your phone. You earn points for taking care of your plants. Additionally, a map shows you the location of your plants and also any belonging to your friends. You can also purchase plants with their in-app store.

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Team 8-Bit presenting

The judges pointed out that different types of plants need different amounts of sunlight and moisture. The team shared that they need to research to collect the data needed for these different plants. Each pot will be unique for each plant but the app will have the data these plants needed. This will be powered by a battery and WiFi module. The team shared that the pot will roughly cost Rs.1000, which the judges said was most impressive.

Team Undefined Byte Packets

85 million people are visually impaired as per WHO statistic. This team wants to help the visually impaired live better lives. They aim to help the blind work more freely. This is a pair of glasses that utilizes Computer vision and Microsoft cognitive services and ABS API from IdeaMart. It can detect emotions, objects, and read text from computer screens and papers and play it out. The team current has a prototype using a pair of glasses, a camera, and a raspberry pi powered by a power bank. This prototype cost Rs. 10,000. The judges having understood the product, encouraged the team to find a unique selling point.

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Team Undefined Byte Packet presenting

Team Aparecium Labs

Kidney disease is a problem that has been growing in Sri Lanka for over 20 years. Many opt for a kidney transplant but the aftercare process is a costly process for time and money and effort to give up bad habits. This team proposes a smart wristband that monitors heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, calories burned, footsteps, an SOS button etc. This connects to a patient’s app via Bluetooth and the app also allows them to connect with their doctor. This will also be available via a website.

They aim to sell 5000 units by 2019. Initially, the team aims to sell it to hospitals for in-hospital monitoring. The judges pointed out that most of the factors the wristband monitors is similar to all other diseases. The team responded by saying that the parameters differ between kidney patients and other diseases.

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Team Safe Plant presenting

Team SparkZ

Air pollution is one of the biggest problems the world faces today. The team the solution offers is to monitor the emission of harmful gasses and temperature changes. This is monitored regularly and if any sudden changes then researchers and authorities are informed. The device is estimated to cost $74. The judges felt that the product lacked a unique selling point. The team shared that it used the WSO2 Data Analytics Server, but during the Q&A session, the team admitted that they aren’t experienced with this technology.

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Team Sparkz presenting

Team Top Notch

People go through emotional stress. The team has an app to help guide users overcome emotional stress. The app takes everything on your phone to identify your happiest moments, favourite songs, etc. It would also monitor your emotions based on a picture you take. Afterwards, it would then suggest things to help you overcome emotional stress such as calling your parents or listening to your favourite song. The team makes money by advertising products and services that they believe may help its users.

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Team Top Notch presenting

Team Medsys

This team has a smart garbage collector. This offers space management. The users see a small bin but underneath there is a larger container. IT also has a series of sensors. It also has a compressor that helps avoid fire and make it easier to dispose of the garbage when the container is full. The judges pointed out that while the team aims to help the municipal councils, they don’t exactly do their job and in fact may not even come on the specified days to collect the garbage.

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Team MedSys presenting

Team Syntax

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Team Syntax presenting

Their system simulates an operation theater using AR, VR, and leap motion. It is a system that aims to train surgeons. In a demo we saw the team had built a prototype app that utilizes a Google carboard. The product is aimed at medical students. The judges pointed out that they have to do a lot of detailed animations and 3D models of the human body. The judges also pointed out that while leap motion is a good technology, operations need pinpoint miniscule accuracy, which leap motion may not be able to provide. The judges pointed out that the teams should’ve prepare proper wireframes to be tter communicate their apps to give a better idea as to how things work.

We then had a UI & UX workshop by Vimukthi Liyanage

To build world class products, you will need a good User Interface and User Experience. Vimukthi opened by sharing what exactly is the difference between UI and UX. He did so by sharing the example of the Heinz ketchup bottles and how they’ve evolved. The first bottle was designed to look good whereas the new bottle is designed to be easy to use. After defining what UI Design involves by looking into different fonts, colors, etc, UX design involves getting a lot of data from customers. “UX is not about designing the product, it’s about designing how it works”, said Vimukthi.

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Vimukthi Liyanage, Founder and CEO – MOGO Solutions addressing the audience

He then shared an example of a mobile app. UX is where your buttons are and navigation works. UI is how the buttons look and colors of the app. He went onto say that users are changing. Previously many surfaces we interacted with were big. But then screens changed and so did requirements from users. In fact, the surfaces themselves have changed. Previously these surfaces were only displays but now you can touch, pinch, and interact with them. Additionally, there’s gesture and motion control technologies to interact with computers as well. Our lifestyles are changing in a digital world.

HACKLNSo how can you test your UX? Firstly you need to define the goals of your product, which are to be achieved by building the product. You can also try sketching the app on paper and then have them try using the app to help you identify initial feedback with the app before the app is built. Use Google Analytics to track your users behaviour. Use tools to monitor user actions, and this is easily done with tools that create heat maps and screen capturing tools.

He then shared that your initial screens and forms should have simple forms. He then shared that for simple apps like a camera app you don’t need a walk-through. But if your app is a complex one then have a walk-through that explains the complex features of the app for the user with 3 -4 slides. And if you desing a product for multiple platforms, design from the smallest screen (mobile) first so that you don’t lose anything. Typography too is important by selecting the appropriate fonts and use 2 – 3 fonts. He then shared that testing should be done on a regular basis to validate your assumptions when building apps and introducing new features.

The Finalists of HacKLN were:

  • FigMe (UCSC)

  • 8bit (UCSC)

  • Syntax

  • Nexus

  • Return Zero

  • InfinitiaLK (IIT)

  • Solutia (Mora)

  • Riuscita

  • Erudites

  • Kavalens

  • Undefined Byte Packets

  • TopNotch

  • Aparecium Labs

  • Castle Black

With the finalists chosen, HacKLN came to a close. All that was left to do was to deliver the vote of thanks. The selected finalists would now have to step up their game to compete at the Final Round of HacKLN 2017 which would take place in October 2017.

We saw some pretty good ideas in the preliminary round of HacKLN and we’re quite excited to see what the finalists come up with for the finals of HacKLN 2017. Stay tuned with us for more details.

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