BattleHack Berlin

Last weekend, Pawel and I were at BattleHack Berlin, our fourth involvement in the global hackathon series hosted by Braintree. Having heard from my colleagues about the BattleHacks in other cities, I expected the Berlin edition to take it one level higher; and Braintree did exactly that! They left no stone unturned in their quest to make this the best so far – Cafe Moskau was chosen as the venue and it was gorgeous. With two floors just for hacking, you couldn’t ask for more.

The food, organisation, hospitality and set up were spot on. The Braintree team were the friendliest bunch of peeps and made sure everything was perfect! We can’t thank them enough for having us over!

Tag Eins (Day one)

As I made my way to the venue, I could see a long line of hackers waiting to get into the venue, eager to build some great thing. It looked like a massive turnout and exceeded even the numbers I had in my head. Following the opening of the doors, the hackers got straight into action – FOOD! Just kidding, although food and drinks were pretty much the second highlight of the whole event. The introductory talks followed breakfast and the hackers were reminded of the theme – to build something that solved a problem for the greater good. Tim Messerschmidt took to the stage to build up the setting and soon, the opening gong went off!

What followed was 24 hours of some serious hacking, food, drinks and massages. We had several keen hackers who wanted to implement Pusher, and others who despite not having much knowledge about us, bombarded us with questions. We wrapped up things pretty late in the night, excited about what we’d see the following day.

Tag Zwei (Day two)

Coming in pretty early in the morning, I was surprised and enthralled that everyone was still glued onto their screens, with several bottles of energy drinks of course. It truly did look like a battle field! Following some very very fine breakfast, the hackers rallied to finish their hacks. Soon, the final gong went off. At about 1.30 PM, we all sat down for the presentations. Each team had two minutes to present their hacks to the judges – Tim Messerschmidt, Tiffany Conroy, Stefan Hoth and Lisa Lang.

The Highlights

A whopping 38 teams presented the hacks and most of them were of very high quality and presented some interesting concepts. I was amazed at the numbers of teams using hardware for their ideas! Clearly, the Internet of Things trend has caught up and the hacks showcased how it can be used to solve a lot of problems. The teams also showcased their experimental side, using technologies such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Mesh networks.

Thank you Dollar managed to create a peer to peer ATM, that someone can use to get money, even when they have no data, using bluetooth mesh networks. They can then reimburse the person they borrowed from using Braintree. It was very impressive and they came in third!

Quit took second place. They created a hardware + web solution to encourage smokers to quite smoking. Using some clever nifty, hardware, they notified the web dashboard when someone opened a pack of cigarettes to smoke. If they exceeded their goal for the week, they would get penalised by having to contribute a small amount to charity. All members of the team took home Xbox Ones!

And drumroll….

The winners

BikeLock were crowned champions of Berlin! They created an IoT solution to prevent bike thefts. They accomplished so much within 24 hours – an iPhone app, Apple Watch app, IoT hardware implementations and partner API integrations! The best part? They made it work very seamlessly. The app itself was very polished and I was amazed at how good it looked and worked. The Apple Watch and phone app can be used to lock and unlock the bicycle at the touch of a button. If the bike was being stolen, it would alert all other bikes within the radius to set off an alarm, using some sensors and Pusher! While they did not win the partner prize, they did some great work with our API which impressed us! They will now go to San Francisco to compete for a chance to win $100,000!

Pusher partner prize winners

Quit took home the pusher partner prize. We had not seen a Pusher + IoT implementation like this and thought it was extremely clever. They put in a huge amount of effort, and the finished product was sophisticated, yet addressed a very important problem. Smart cigarette boxes might be the future!

What’s next?

Pusher will be a part of BattleHack Venice next and we can’t wait to head over to Italy!

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