Olga and I travelled to Venice over the weekend just gone in order to represent Pusher at the latest instalment of this year’s Battlehack, BattleHack Venice.
This was my third time at a BattleHack event but it was Olga’s first. She’d read the previous Berlin, Tokyo, Athens and London blog posts and heard us extolling the virtues of BattleHack and so was suitably excited. Needless to say, she was not disappointed (and neither was I, for the record!).
The Hacking Begins
After the usual formalities of making sure everyone knew the rules, had a team, and had stocked up on delicious food, the hacking began.
It wasn’t long before servers were being booted and front ends were being designed. Some teams seemed to have almost too much energy, which resulted in this magnificent structure being created.
Olga and I did our rounds of the hacking space to get a feel for what the various teams were building and were impressed with the ideas that were being concocted. Some of them seemed pretty ambitious and some of them seemed pretty much impossible to complete within 24 hours.
If at any time anyone felt under pressure or stressed then there was a simple solution. All you needed to do was step outside and take in the views, especially around sunset, and you couldn’t possibly feel uptight anymore.
Nonetheless, the hackers ploughed on with many of the teams being braver than I was and powering through the full 24 hours without sleep. I succumbed to sleep in the early hours of the morning but it was hard to sleep for too long without the scent of delicious breakfast wafting into my subconscious.
Loaded up with food – courtesy of a veritable smorgasbord of a breakfast – everyone cracked on with the remaining few hours of the hackathon, edging ever closer to the finish line.
The Closing Gong
The usual sigh of relief was collectively released as the closing gong was struck. However, for the striker of the gong, the one and only Alberto López, it was a gong to remember. It was in fact the last one that he’ll strike seeing as it was Alberto’s last BattleHack before moving on to work for a bank; a fact that we were jokingly reminded of by John Lunn, the king of BattleHack during the prize ceremony.
As ever, the standard of the hacks was fantastic. Not only that, but the variety of technologies used along with the wide range of problems tackled was very impressive. There were a good number of the hacks that involved some sort of hardware and amazingly I think all of the presentations went down pretty much flawlessly – which is no mean feat!
There were a good number of teams that used Pusher as part of their hacks but a few of them really stood out. In no particular order:
Team SYOH spent their 24 hours on making a hardware device and accompanying app that makes sharing or letting your home much easier. It would let you grant access to your home for chosen people. The flow of using their solution seemed pretty seamless and I could easily see something like that catching on in the not-too-distant future.
The buluaa team created a photo platform that allowed people to make money and help out NGOs by taking photos while travelling and then uploading them to the site to make them available for licensing. They even added the concept of challenges so that you could challenge someone to get a photo of something specific and then they’d be rewarded for doing so. I thought it was a great idea and was a very strong contender for the Pusher prize.
ortoMio hacked away at a local produce platform. It notified people when they were close to local produce so that they could purchase some fresh food from a local farmer rather than going to a supermarket to pick up something that’s been sent thousands of miles around the world in a plane. They added in the ability to offer bulk discounts and sales to make things even more attractive. Not only this but it was all cashless and done in realtime!
ortoMio, while not winners of the Pusher prize, did finish in 2nd place overall!
While the aforementioned teams all created amazing hacks there was one team that stood out – CowHow. They were another team to make use of both hardware and software for their hack. They created a solution for co-working spaces to manage the desks that they have on offer. You could reserve a desk in the app and it would save your spot for you at the desk until you arrived. Upon arrival you could “tap in” using your phone, which would unlock the desk and the associated necessities – power sockets, internet access, etc. Again, it was a seamless experience and a really innovative solution.
Special congratulations to CowHow and a massive thank you to all of the teams who used Pusher in their hacks!
BattleHack Venice Winners
It would be remiss of me not to mention the overall winners – team CCC.
CCC built a stolen device tracking and disabling solution that involved an IoT device that you could insert into your device. If you then tracked down the device and found that it was in the hands of someone untrustworthy, or just unrealistically far away to retrieve, you could remotely destroy the device. Their presentation even involved a real-life demo of said destruction!
They combined a great hack with potentially the best BattleHack presentation that I’ve seen to date and so were more than deserved winners. Congratulations to them!
Thanks to Braintree, all of the hackers who attended, and H-FARM who hosted us supremely well. Yet again, we had a great time and are already looking forward to the next one in Toronto so be sure to say hi to Jamie and Will if you’re going!