Spring Hackathon unleashing the power of creativity

08 July 2016
Mateusz Chrominiski
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Our Development Centre in Poznan recently played host to the 4th Cognifide Hackathon. These are fantastic events when we set time aside to think outside of the box and push the boundaries of what is currently possible. This time it was all about unleashing creativity and was therefore open not just to Java Developers but to the QA Practice, the UI Practice, TPMs and also to our clients. A huge thank you to the team from GSK who took the time to join us - it was great having your input!

The Hackathon in numbers

  • We hosted 54 participants, split into 18 teams. Although these events are collaborative, they are, of course, also highly competitive!

  • We took an entire floor and used 4 conference rooms, linking all spaces using appear.in so that we could all keep an eye on competing teams and create a shared sense of purpose.

  • We set up 50 monitors, with full network capability, and hundreds of metres of cable (thanks IT!).

  • We hacked for 7 hours and presented ideas to each other for a further 2.

  • There were 2 outright winners - one team voted for by the participants and the other voted for by our Jury that included our COO, Stu and Managing Director, Marcin.

The outright winners

The audience vote on the night went to Team Nobles, made up of an interesting collaboration of Devs and QAs, who came up with an incredibly useful tool for use around a release. It’s a dashboard that works like a symptom checker pre-release. It provides an interface that allows you to check if there are any impediments to launch an application, such as open bugs, failing builds or uncommitted changes.

Not only is it an innovative idea but it was brilliantly and dramatically presented with music, sound effects and a fantastic story. It will certainly be a very useful tool that will provide a fail safe green light before any Go Live situation. Look out for it appearing in our toolbox soon.

The jury vote

The team that took the jury vote on the night were the rather inaptly named ‘Smart but Lazy’. They certainly exceeded the expectations of the audience with a visionary project combining Target, AEM and Microsoft’s face recognition service, FaceAPI. It’s a solution that will close a gap in personalisation during the customer journey. Whilst personalisation currently focuses around the data generated when a customer is engaging via desktop or mobile, it’s harder to gather data on a customer - and react to it - when they are engaging with content displayed in a dealership, or on a kiosk or advert in a shopping mall, for instance.

Using a camera attached to the display, the solution uses FaceAPI to detect personal attributes such as gender, age and facial characteristics and adornments. Adobe Target can then be used to create customer segments around these attributes. For instance, at its most basic, a middle aged woman wearing glasses may be served an offer on contact lenses. As you can imagine, the opportunities could be endless!

Creativity unleashed

Other great ideas ranged from practical solutions for day-to-day office needs such as catering logistics, room booking, a desk locator and a fussball matchmaker (essential!) - to the incredibly technical. One team has rewritten the microservice templating engine from NodeJS to vertx - this is now available open source on https://github.com/Cognifide/knotx.

Celebrating teamwork

There was a prize giving the following evening at our annual spring party held in the dystopian surroundings of Poznan’s old slaughterhouse. A truly atmospheric setting in which to celebrate such incredible innovation, where the winners were awarded a traditional keg of beer (which no decent Hackathon should ever be without).

Thanks to everyone who came and made it such a great event. We have to keep innovating to stay ahead and it’s events like these that produce the ideas and technology of tomorrow. Watch out for some of these new initiatives hitting our work bench or even making it to Open Source soon.