Hack24 2016!

After last year’s triumph of a weekend we, along with much of Nottingham’s tech community, were poised over our refresh buttons at 11:59 on the day of the midday Hack24 2016 ticket release. I think we broke some sort of record this year snaffling up our 6 tickets in less than 30 seconds.

As with last year, we then spent the next month musing over the challenges and various hare-brained schemes for apps we could design and build in just 24 hours. Here are a few of the ideas that fell by the wayside:

The Mars Communicator- Using open source APIs made available by NASA to build an app that showed weather conditions, landscape images and rover updates from the Martian surface. We were really inspired by this idea, but struggled to make a convincing use case and fit it in well with the specifications any of the challenges… next year Hack24, next year!

DeadPlant- A popular idea that became the name of one of our teams. Inspired by the dead IKEA fern languishing in the MultiPie office, we planned to build an augmented pot plant. We’d insert light, moisture and PH sensors into the pot to monitor the plant’s condition. We’d then program an app to allow the plant to demand attention from anyone nearby when the sensors picked up a need. Unfortunately the smart people at Parrot apps had already thought of this and there’s a product on the market. Though I think their plants have less personality than we imagined ours to have!

In the end our two teams came up with two very different ideas. Team ComForg developed a real-time cooperative game that represented the app development process whilst team DeadPlant settled on using Bluetooth beacons to develop digital noticeboards.

For a far more dynamic explanation than I can give here, take a look at the videos we submitted to the judges.

We’ve taken a lot away from the weekend. This year team DeadPlant managed to hit a good balance between aspiration and practicality. We were able to get all the features we had planned in on time and had sufficient energy left over to put together our video. We learnt from last year’s errors there! Winning the Esendex challenge further confirmed we’d made a good call. This was of course a major highlight for Michael, Adam and I… once our over-tired brains had had time to work out what had just happened!

DeadPlant Win

A semi conscious team DeadPlant trying to work out why they’re on the stage.

The event was also an excellent team building experience. Michael and Jamie will be joining our development team this spring and it was great that they were able to join us for the hack ahead of their start date. This year the feeling of community was extremely strong across the whole event. Internally MultiPie will benefit greatly from having had such a good environment to get to know our new team members. Externally it’s fantastic that as a small company we are able to build relationships with other tech companies in Nottingham, and even better, that there appear to be hardly any barriers between small SME’s, large multi national companies and the city council.

If you read many of our blog posts you’ll know I keep saying it, but I think Nottingham has something special in its tech community. It’s extremely open and vibrant. I can’t imagine there are many cities where representatives of goodness knows how many companies large and small get together on Slack, send pug gifs and have a watermelon as a mascot!