Hackathons Giving Birth to Innovative IoT Solutions

One of the fastest growing spaces in tech is the world of connected devices — often called the Internet of Things. In the embedded engineering and software development worlds, this technological shift is so pervasive some have taken to called it “The Internet of Everything.” While organizations and enterprises are increasingly putting the IoT at the root of many of their forward-thinking business strategies, one of the strongest engines of innovation stems from hackathons. Hackathons are essentially software or hardware challenges, where teams of developers or engineers are giving a task (i.e. build a smart city solution), with specified hardware or software (maybe a certain development board or programming environment), in a specific time period (anywhere from a few hours to a few days). In today’s top IoT news, we’ll take a look at a few stories in the industry about hackathons and how they are helping shape the IoT. Functional Fabric Hackathon Leads to eTextiles Innovation One of the fastest growing areas of the IoT revolves around smart clothing — sometimes called eTextiles. Smart clothing can range from simple solutions like integrating sewable LEDs into clothing to craft safer bicycling attire, to embedded sensors that are used to monitor environmental conditions for oil and gas workers. Recently, as noted in this article from “The University Network,” the Massachusetts Institute of Technology hosts a hackathon focusing on “Functional Fabric.” MIT has long been a hub for IoT innovation and is one of the epicenters of eTextiles. In the Functional Fabric Hackathon, teams of students faced the challenge of design clothing solutions that would aid soldiers, first responders and victims of disasters. The teams had three days to come up with their solutions and were competing for two grand prizes of up to $15,000. 22 teams competed and the winning solution came from an MIT student group called “Remote Triage.” Their solution was a sensor system that could be embedded in a soldier’s uniform, that would monitor not only vital signs, but could then report any injuries to field medics, provide location of the injured soldier, and even triage the severity of the injury with a color coding system. Hackathon Challenges Young Women to Build Smart City Solutions “She Builds Tech — Smart City Hackathon” recently challenged young women in India to build the smart city solutions of the future. As noted in this article from The Hindu, there were ultimately five winners — a solar energy harnessing paint, a water grid solution system, geo-fencing, a smart ambulance service, and a routing and scheduling system for tourists. The event lasted for two days and attracted over 300 girls from various engineering colleges. TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon Coming in Mid-September TechCrunch Disrupt, the event that has becoming one of the world’s biggest stages for innovative new technologies, is rapidly approaching, with the San Francisco version of the event scheduled to kick off on September 12th. The hackathon will pit teams against each other in a two-day sprint to design the most impressive tech. At the end of the hackathon, teams will have just 60 seconds to impress judges for their shot at a $5000 grand prize, a slew of gifts and gadgets provided by sponsors, and all the glamour that goes along with winning one of the countries most elite hackathon competitions. To learn more about the hackathon, or to grab tickets to watch the action, check out this article from TechCrunch. — Hackathons continue to prove that innovations in the worlds of IoT, embedded engineering, and software solutions do not have to come just from the prototyping labs of Fortune 500 companies, but can emerge from groups of students and tech enthusiasts faced with big challenges and short timeframes.

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