On This Year’s Hackathon

Written by Cristina Radu
Published on May 10, 2019
Read time 10 min
Category Team

It’s that time of the year again! Here at Mobiversal we had an amazing day dedicated to a full 12 hours Hackathon! The project that our developers worked on was all about implementing Augmented Reality in a mobile app that provides virtual tours inside our company. Yes, it’s true. A virtual map of our company! The purpose of the app was to come as extra help for our newest (and oldest) colleagues so that they familiarize faster with our building and open spaces.

This is not the first time Mobiversal organised a Hackathon. We’ve done this in the past few years and it was a blast every time! But what is a Hackathon?

A hackathon which is also known as a hack day, hackfest or codefest is a sprint-like event in which developers and also others involved in software development, including graphic designers, project managers, interface designers, etc. collaborate intensively on a specific software project.  The main goal of a hackathon is to create a usable software functioning product by the end of the event. Also hackathons are very specific in their focus, including programming languages, operating systems and applications.

Before we get into some more technical details of the app, let me share with you how we prepared and thought about the app development process for this day. Participants in the Hackathon were mainly our developers, but also the rest of the team helped with management procedures.

Our CTO, Claudia, brought together two teams in the competition: the first one, iOS&Java backend group included Dani, Constantin, David, Paul, Alex and Diana, versus the Android & JavaScript backend made by Csaba, Levi, Alina, Zoli, Noiemi, Obed and Cristian.

They started coding at exactly 7AM (yes, being on time was a bonus for the winning team) with no break until 7PM. If you see pictures of them eating, well they were eating and working at the same time! Claudia, Cristian and Sebastian were not directly involved as developers in the teams, but acted as coordinators and elected the winning team. If you are interested in how we’ve the winning team was chosen, here are the criteria: completeness of the project, creativity, complexity, correctness, architecture and following coding standards.

Besides creating this awesome app and learning together on what Augmented Reality is all about, one of the main purposes of this project was to unite the team within our company and motivating them to have an exciting attitude towards new tech features. This was possible because of the coders efforts, but in the near future, we would like to organize a get together similar to the StartUp Weekend series, which would be a brainstorming event for prototyping new personal apps in which all team members (both technical and non-technical) could be included.

Here is a more in-depth explanation from Claudia: “The iOS team used the ARKit development platform, while the Android team used the ARCore development kit. This was a great moment to compare the two competing libraries, and our first conclusion was that the ARKit was easier to use, and so the iOS team was the first team to finish an AR prototype for the Augmented HQ app. We will know more details as the implementation advances.”

The atmosphere during the day was very intense due to our highly competitive colleagues! But at the same time, everything was friendly, very professional and we also had lots of fun while working. We pride ourselves in having a passionate and talented team in the company. During these 12 hard working hours, we can strongly affirm that we have learned very much about one another by pairing in teams. Teamwork isn’t always easy is what we found out, especially when working under pressure. There were also many ups and downs; just when one team thought they’ve found the key to the app and be declared winners, they realized the track they were on was not good and had to reinvent themselves all over again and fast! By the end of the day, fatigue had accumulated and everyone felt it deeply, paying attention to the clock while writing their last lines of code to reach the finish line.

The highlight of the day for us was shooting live moments from the Hackhaton! We did small bits of on the spot interviews with our team leads explaining how the app developing is evolving, what obstacles they faced as a team, how they managed to overcome them and first impressions about the project. We posted live videos on our Facebook page during the day and we invite you to take a look at how it went!

Who were the winners? After 12 long working hours of coding, it was time to wrap it! Taking their turn, each team presented what they managed to accomplish within the day.

Let’s see what the iOS team has to say. Constantin, the iOS team lead explained to us the technicalities:

“Well, on the server side all the requests were done, we created the push notification profile (where we had some technical problems with the firebase) and also the request for the facial recognition. On mobile, we did the app flow with four screens (camera, rooms, owner and notification screen) and their adjacent (edit, update & save). We finalized the add-saving-loading room and the pins on the map, so basically, the core functionalities were all done.

I also have to mention what we did not manage to do and that is the total integration of the API, photo/video sharing at pins, editing and deleting a pin, creating multiple rooms (at the moment we only have one camera working and the detection logic/loading of rooms.”

And from the Android team, Alina shared with us:

“Yesterday’s experience was unique compared to everything else. There was a lot of pressure having to finish on time but all of our team members gave their best and cooperated for the final product. Even though we did not manage to implement all the features from the specs document, I think we did our best by adding the most important criteria and that is Augmented Reality (AR). Being a new library with which none of us has worked before, the final product was much more than we expected.

The team was present from the start and we kicked it off with a constructive meeting where we clearly established the tasks. The day was very much like a rollercoaster, going through lots of emotions. The most intense were enthusiasm, concern, joy, frustration, and pride.

Looking back on it, we learned new techniques, got out of our comfort zone and we became on the spot decision makers. Under stress, we cooperated well and really helped each other.  At the end of the day, we felt the satisfaction of our work.

Claudia concluded and announced the winners of this 2019 Mobiversal Hackathon edition:

“Well, first of all, a big congratulations to everyone involved in this difficult but amazing team project! What we all wanted from the beginning was to get everyone involved and through this hackathon to unite the team by collaborating on key issues and also challenge people to be open to new technologies. Observing our two teams in action today I can say that we have reached our target. Besides creating an interesting and exciting new app, we are very satisfied with the people’s wise results that we had. We will definitely continue the good work and prepare other actions like this in the near future!

And now to present this year’s winners: …the iOS team won this time! Let us congratulate them on their great effort and accomplishment. Sincere congratulations go for the Android team too, as they also did an amazing job and showed great tech skills and involvement!

I know that we promised a surprise for this winners edition and that is why the iOS team will celebrate their success at a great restaurant downtown! Well done everybody!”

We’d like to invite you to watch our live videos from the contest on our Facebook page to get a real grasp of the event!  

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