It was that time of the year again. A weekend in the sun-soaked city of Jaffna. The Yarl Geek Challenge was in full swing. Organized annually by the Yarl IT Hub, the iconic hackathon is now in its 8th season. This year, 21 teams took part in the hope of making it to the finals. Kicking things off on a Friday morning, the teams dove into action right away.
Over the weekend, we witnessed a great many enthusiastic faces working on bringing their ideas to life. The mentors offered technical as well as business advice to each team in preparation for the pitches on Sunday. Eventually, amidst all the passionate pitches, only 10 teams made it to the grand finale. Here’s a glimpse of what we saw over the course of an exciting weekend in Jaffna.
Team Wanderers wants to address the importance of potassium in the human body. Unstable levels of potassium in our bodies often result in problematic situations. Lower levels of potassium cause hypokalaemia, while high levels would mean hyperkalaemia. Severe states of both these conditions can even lead to cardiac arrest.
Team Wanderers claim to have a better alternative. Through a wearable device, a patient’s ECG signal is monitored. Another device is connected to this wearable via Bluetooth. This device then identifies potassium levels by using the ECG signal data. Hence potentially avoiding hypokalaemia and hyperkalaemia situations. In terms of accuracy, the team claims Potassium levels could be assessed up to 85% accuracy.
The next team that took the stage, saw an opportunity to support the many home businesses in Sri Lanka. Their idea is to build a platform connecting businesses with potential customers. Currently, most home businesses thrive on platforms like Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp. By bringing them all under one platform, Home Brands believes they could offer better value. An example the team shared was by providing analytics through the app.
Alongside this platform, Home Brands is aiming to offer consultancy services as well. This is to enable businesses to perform better on the platform. Based on the particular home business performance, consultations will be offered as a service as per the specific needs. For this, Home Brands will draw the expertise of experienced individuals.
Magenda describes itself as an end-to-end agenda management solution. The team promises it to be a hub for event organizers. The app aims to offer attendees information about the event, live feedback and reactions to programmes. Similarly, for event organizers, it offers features for resource management, agenda management, task assignments, etc.
Magenda’s target market expands from event organisers to public and university clerks, and other similar segments. One may ask if this would work. The team notes that events of all sorts are happening in abundance nowadays. But more importantly, the Magenda team states that their market research shows positive feedback so far. Already, Magenda has even partnered up with 2 event management companies.
Maintaining medical records can be a tedious task at times. This is especially true in Sri Lanka where practically all medical records are stored offline. Team Pixies believe that these could be digitised for more effective use. Their idea is to scan physical medical documents, where a software solution would extract the data and store it in the cloud-based system.
Due to the sensitive nature of the data, team Pixies states that everything uploaded to the cloud will be encrypted. As an additional security measure, the medical records can only be accessed via the mobile app and not on the web app.
Water contamination is a very real problem. Particularly in a country like Sri Lanka. The team notes that there are more than 15 districts in Sri Lanka, affected by water contamination. As a result, approximately 250,000 people are admitted to government hospitals each year. Enter Neer.
Neer is a real-time solar-powered ‘system that monitors the quality of water. It collects data about the water and uploads it to the cloud for analysis. Once the analysis is done, it offers real-time insights to users through mobile and web app interfaces.
Neer is currently looking at 3 customer segments. These segments are businesses requiring clean water, corporate entities focused on reducing their waste output, and environmentally conscious government organizations. While Neer is focusing on Sri Lanka, the team has also set their eyes on other markets such as Bangladesh, India, and African countries.
From this team, we saw a virtual marketplace called FarmStock. It aims to aggregate the farming community with distributors and fertiliser companies under one roof. Techie Build believes this would help solve two major problems in the farming community. The first being high waste. The second being a lack of knowledge among farmers to effectively utilise resources.
The virtual marketplace would serve as a direct communication mechanism between the farmers and the distributors. Thus potentially encouraging more efficient production. Additionally, the platform also hopes to provide inventory management and analytics as well. The fertiliser companies connected through FarmStock could potentially buy off some of this waste.
Although similar products do exist, Techie Build claims they have a unique proposition. An inbuilt assurance system which assures farmers of their products. This utilises a blockchain-powered bidding system. FarmStock would also come equipped with graphical analytics for the farmers as well.
The premise is simple. An online store for authentic palmyra products from Jaffna. That’s exactly what team Tharuvi propose. But why palmyra? Well, for one thing, palmyra can be found in abundance in Jaffna. Furthermore, almost every part of the tree can be utilised for some productive use.
Dubbed Olai, the online store aims to promote Jaffna’s high-quality palmyra products through the digital space. These products range from coasters and handbags to boxes. It doesn’t stop there either. The orders on Olai will be delivered with an eco-friendly package as well.
Bedsores. These usually develop when you’re exposed on a lying surface for a long period. It might not be a concern for the average person. But this is a real problem for senior citizens or bedridden patients. Cuca proposes a sensor system with a special material that enables the caretaker to know exactly when to change the bedridden person’s physical position.
According to team Cuca, the material itself helps mitigate any bedsores from spreading and prevents them from getting worse. Furthermore, the team noted that this solution has currently been submitted for a patent. Additionally, the team is also keen on adding an IoT element to the solution. This includes a pressure sensor that allows for improved monitoring.
Team Fairies’ product, Thoori, is another online platform in the making. Its goal is to expand the market of Jaffna’s local jewellery manufacturers. Thoori aims to do so by offering handmade thread jewellery to the masses through its e-commerce store. The team is also keen on providing Thoori as a means of promoting Jaffna’s handmade jewellery.
Why don’t we grow our vegetables? It’s a question that may have many answers. But the most common one would be that almost all of us have busy schedules. Even if we knew how to handle plants, the time and effort may keep us from doing so. Team Musketeers hope that Happy Petal will be an effective way to combat this matter.
Happy Petal is an automated smart greenhouse. It includes an automated water system and temperature control system. The lack of any artificial fertiliser makes the harvest organic. In terms of effort, the user would only need to plant the seeds. Everything else is taken care of by the smart greenhouse.
Who will win the title for 2019?
So there you have it. Those are the 10 finalists of Yarl Geek Challenge Season 8. Now for the grand finale. The 8th iteration of the annual event will come to a close on the 20th of October at Dialog Axiata Auditorium. Until then.