Young talents came up with inspiring innovations at Singapore's longest-running Hackathon.
By Chia Han Keong
What do the 2010 Haiti earthquake and fake news have in common?
Surprisingly, they are sources of creative solutions, especially for the young coders and programmers who took part in the 12th edition of the annual hackathon Code::XtremeApps:: (CXA).
Their inspiration came from their desire to improve daily challenges and issues, which ties in perfectly with the theme of this year’s 24-hour hackathon, “Changing our world with artificial intelligence”.
The winning team from the Open Category, Artificial Idiot, said that their idea came about after reading an article about the 2010 natural disaster.
“It said that it is not the earthquake that kills, but the buildings,” explained team member Jeffrey Lau from Singapore Polytechnic. “It got us thinking that if we can come up with a solution whereby infrastructure can be inspected autonomously, a lot of lives can be saved during disaster recovery.”
So the team came up with a solution using data and algorithms to make drones recognise and detect cracks on buildings, as well as to map transport routes to enable first responders to travel safely through disaster areas.
For their stellar efforts, the three-member team won a cash prize of $3,000 each, as well as a Special Prize from platinum sponsors Motorola Solutions – a day visit to its global innovation centre in Chicago, where they will meet a senior member of its Chief Technology Office to learn more about the role of third-party application developers in building smart technology solutions.
“We want to see what kind of solutions they actually implement, how they put their innovations into use in the real world,” added Jeffrey.
Inventions that make Singapore a better place
CXA, Singapore’s longest-running hackathon, is jointly organised by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the IT Standards Committee (ITSC), with the support of various organisations and sponsors.
This year’s edition was held on 13–14 July, and saw 332 participants form 122 teams to develop solutions to make Singapore a better place to work, live, learn and play.
The teams were divided into the Junior (for primary school pupils age 12 and below), School (for students from secondary schools and pre-universities) and Open categories (for enthusiasts of all ages). Challenge statements were released six weeks prior, with additional requirements being announced only on the day of the competition.
For DefinitelyHappenStance, the School category winners from Dunman High School, their inspiration for creating a plugin for evaluating whether news on Twitter is true or fake, came from a mundane source: doing their General Paper (GP) homework.
“Sometimes when I used a piece of news found online to support my GP essay, my teacher was not able to trace the news to a reliable online source. It got us thinking about how to alert the Twitter user whether he is reading fake news or not,” said team member Tan Xiaochen.
The creative solutions created by these young innovators in just 24 hours were judged based on the criteria of challenge, innovation, value and usability, and technical features.
Taking on the challenge
Winning teams received their prizes on 27 July at the Suntec City Convention Centre from guest-of-honour Mr Leong Keng Thai, Deputy Chief Executive of IMDA.
“The quality of projects and passion shown by the participants never ceases to amaze. I am especially heartened to see the enthusiasm and inspired design thinking of young minds in the Junior and School categories,” he said.
“The hackathon is a good platform for budding and current developers to share and learn more, raising the digital literacy of the community to take on the challenges of the digital economy. I hope to see more budding young thinkers join us at next year’s event.”
His words were echoed by Mr Prabhakar Rajagopal, Motorola Solutions’ vice-president and general manager for Asia and Japan.
“We don’t know all the answers, but we know there are certain responsible ways we can guide the next generation to help us find those answers. Creativity, critical thinking and aptitude to build will make your future,” he said during the prize ceremony.
It was indeed a fun experience for all the participants.
Just ask Charcoal Leaf, the young winners of the Junior category who came up with a smart vending machine that recommends food choices based on the users’ vital statistics like weight and age.
They were unanimous in saying, “we want to come back again next year!”