Interesting applications developed from back of mind ideas
iTrain and Cyberview partner to create unique event
It was a first for me. Being on a bus for an event.
It was the inaugural 1337 Bus Hackathon and it attracted close to 30 enthusiastic people ranging from those who can write software code, to business development folk and designers who can create compelling visual designs for the software written by said geeks.
To say that the enthusiastic bunch raised the roof of the bus would be an exaggeration, but at Taman Titiwangsa, the bus did lose its sunroof due to a dangerously low-hanging power line. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the uncovered sunroof did seem to energize the teams sitting at the back of the bus as the noise levels went up quite a bit from that end.
According to Hackathon organizer iTrain’s founder, Bikesh L, the point of the Hackathon is to get people together for a short, intense idea-development process.
“A lot of them have ideas they have been kicking around in their heads but they have always stayed there,” said the CEO of the software developer and training house. “This Hackathon is a catalyst to get them to act on their ideas, and if it does, to hopefully spur them to get serious about the ideas.”
Indeed, one of the participants said his motivation in taking part was simple. Says Arsyan Ismail (pic, left), “I like to code, I like to hack, and at an event like this, you can get together with a lot of really smart people with different skill sets, brainstorm and work together. And the best part, you can get to showcase your work immediately, get great feedback and hopefully gain a little bit of recognition.”
That, Arsyan did.
Meanwhile, the purpose of launching the event from the bus was to show the participants that ideas could be gelled together anywhere. For the event sponsor, Cyberview Sdn Bhd, the objective was to reinforce to the participants that it too is a key player in the tech ecosystem, and not just the land owner of Cyberjaya.
The 1337 Bus departed from Petaling Jaya, a suburb 30km from Kuala Lumpur, before moving to the city center, and ended in Cyberjaya, a township that is a part of the Multimedia Super Corridor, Malaysia’s high technology park, situated about 70km from Kuala Lumpur.
At Cyberjaya, where most of the action and excitement happened, three of the six teams which were formed for the event, walked away with three prizes each. The first two teams won the Sony Vita PSP units, a “super cool prize,” according to one of the winners, while the third place team won vouchers to stay at Cyberview Lodge and Spa.
Arsyan and his team emerged winners with a chilling app called PassOn. Perfect for those among us who are meticulous planners, including our eventual passing on.
A delighted Arsyan says, “Finally, after all the Hackathons I have taken part in, I won something,” adding that the early adopters of such an app are those who have actually prepared for their eventual deaths. Arsyan acknowledges that this is a niche product and that it is, “not really for normal people."
“[The app is meant] mostly for people who have a lot of online assets, are obviously Internet-savvy and value their assets enough that they want to pass it on, hence the app name PassOn,” says Arsyan, who is also a co-founder and CTO of Nest Sdn Bhd, a promising start-up with a product called VoucHEREs.
The second prize went to a trio: Programmers Scott Thoo and Ivan Lim, with Geraldine Mak as the artist. They were adventurous enough to come up with an app built around new neuroscience-based technology.
Dubbed Zen Diver, the app is a game where the player assumes the role of a penguin evading large monsters in the deep sea. A player can control his diving depth by controlling his thoughts; the more calm he is, the more at peace he feels, the higher his chances of winning the game.
Lim (pic, middle) says, “It sounds easy at first, until you start encountering giant creatures. Now, how long can you remain calm for?”
This game was developed using the NeuroSky Mindwave headset and Unity3D. The Mindwave headset is an EEG (electroencephalography) headset that monitors brain activity like focus, how relaxed one is, as well as various brain wave patterns (alpha, beta, gamma waves, etc).
Lim says he realized that the technology is still very young, adding that it’s still a very long way from the kind of mind-reading we see in sci-fi movies. “But even with what is available in the market now, there are a lot of interesting potential applications for developers to explore,” he says.
In third place was SINI (in Bahasa Malaysia meaning “here”) which is an iPhone application that is built on top of the concept of a social network aggregator and is an attempt to organize or simplify a user's social networking experience in a new way.
According to Tang Tung Ai (pix, left), much of the information from the users’ social network feed is aggregated based on the geo-location of the user. His app provides the user with the addtional option to choose the information type based on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and Foursquare.
Users can also filter the feed by choosing the size of the news radius, say between 10km to 5,000km.
Noting that it was a unique experience for his team, as all of them came from different companies, Tung Ai feels that the early adopters for SINI will be any social network savvy netizen who needs help to aggregate and personalize all his or hers social related feeds, promotions, photos and topics of interest.
Tung Ai, who is the founder and technical director of ICON Mobi, a software house specializing in mobile application development, notes that all three in his team are technically-oriented and were in the stages of launching their own start-ups.
Winners were announced about 10pm on the bus and it made for a merry trip back to the Petaling Jaya pick-up point where it had all begun at 8.30am.