I recently accepted a new job as a mobile developer at Multipie. I'm currently serving my (8 week!) notice period with my old company, but in the meantime they invited me out to join them at HACK²⁴!

HACK²⁴ is a hackathon local to Nottingham hosted by Tech Nottingham. The idea is to throw a bunch of people into a room, divide them in to teams, give them 24 hours and various challenges to see what they can come up with. There were 7 challenges and 1 bonus challenge available, and whilst teams can enter as many challenges as they want, we ended up entering just the one.

We were relatively unprepared and didn't have a solid idea of what we wanted to do whe we started, so we spent the first few minutes floating ideas around. Coming up with something to do is quite difficult, you want to do something that's fun, satisfies at least one challenge, and could perhaps be useful if developed fully.

Ultimately we decided to create a digital notice board. We had the idea of using iBeacons to have local notice boards that could be used by the likes of doctors offices, restaurants or museums to give patrons immediate access to digital versions of their documents. Surprisingly a quick google seemed to suggest that nobody has used iBeacons to do this before (at least generically). Inspired by Tim Cook recently tweeting this video about a nearly blind guy using his phone to zoom in on his physical school text books, we realised that this could have real world significant benefits for the disadvantaged.

This idea satisfied the requirements for the Esendex challenge which had a cool prize of a Sphero BB-8 droid for each team member! Motivated by the lure of a sweet robot, we got to work.

Adam started work on the iPhone app that would detect iBeacons, query the API and display the notice boards. Annie started designing the same app, and later the admin interface, coming up with a cool watermelon motif (Tech Nottingham loves watermelons = bonus points). I got to work building the API and the website to set up notice boards and post content.

I decided to write the API with Python/Django, mostly for 2 reasons. 1) As a swan song, since I'll soon cease working with Python or Django in a major capacity. 2) Efficiency, we only had 24 hours and I wanted to get as much done as we possibly could.

18 billion cups of coffee later, we posted our submission video which you can watch below.

Finally, it was time to reveal the winners. The room was tense, wave after wave of winners with awesome projects entered into other challenges were announced. Eventually it came to the Esendex challenge. We won! And for our prize, the room was subjected to Samuel L Ipsum passed through text to speech (also the sweet BB-8s too!).

If you're interested you can check out our code on GitHub

written by Michael on 2016-03-21