X24 Season 5 – Our SMARTest Hackathon Ever!
September saw the much-awaited return of Extentia’s premier hackathon event of the year, X24!
X24 is our annual 24-hour hackathon where our teams race against the clock to complete a diverse set of challenge statements centered on a particular theme. This season was particularly notable as it focused on SmartScape technologies.
Every single day, Extentia, along with our exemplary partners and associates embark on a seemingly endless set of quests to provide our world with the tools, the technologies, and the tenacity to face challenges as daunting as climate change and resource scarcity.
It is for this precise reason that the X24 spotlight shifted to SMART technologies for this season. While SMART technologies are becoming more and more ubiquitous in the day to day lives of ordinary citizens, the jury is largely out as to whether IT organizations are designing, developing, and deploying these technologies to their maximum potential or efficiency.
This year we asked ourselves -- when we hold in our pockets, repositories of information that can exceed the greatest libraries, why do we persist with living in environments that are identical to those that we inhabited decades ago?
X24 Season 5 focused on harnessing the full measure of Extentia’s developmental, technical, and creative capabilities. The aim was to direct it towards creating theoretical SmartScape solutions that fundamentally change the paradigm of how technology can improve the spaces in which we live while remaining sustainable, feasible, and cost-effective. It also acted as a trial-by-fire proving ground of sorts, through which we were able to test ideas that were formally merely ambitious concepts.
Season 5 also featured an eclectic mix of developers, designers, and sales specialists who all came together within their respective houses in pursuit of a common goal. A number of exciting pre-events took place in the lead up to the event including a SMART Quiz and a SMART Creatathon. The winning houses for these events earned unique advantages going into the actual X24 competition. The SMART Quiz winners got to pick the best tables and preferred cabins while the Creatathon winners were allowed to choose their challenge statements.
The lead up to this year saw the introduction of specialized training sessions with external coaches. Our two SMART Senseis, Arijit Mallick and Rahul Swaminathan were tasked with preparing our teams; taking them through a series of engrossing sessions and workshops focused on teaching them the ins and outs of working with various forms of SMART technology. Thanks to their expert tutelage and careful guidance, our houses were better enabled to face their respective challenge statements. Both Arijit and Rahul were also available on both days to guide teams as well as to offer them invaluable advice.
This year also awarded teams for attending and excelling in these external training sessions. The Infinite house recorded the highest attendance and received 15 valuable minutes of consultation time with Umeed. Parikrama won the prize for scoring the highest grade on the technical test and received one additional wild card entry.
In addition to all of the above and in a delicious twist, it was revealed that the Gurus would be awarding bonus points to teams that collaborate to solve any of their given challenge statements.
Judging our teams’ SmartScape solutions this year was an eclectic quartet of Gurus made up of Badri Subramaniyan, Shashikant Shimpi, Subhadra Ramaswamy, and Yogesh Shinde – each of whom brought a different area of expertise to proceedings. They were no pushovers by any stretch of imagination and our teams needed to test the very limits of their abilities in order to sway them.
Just like every other season, X24 was managed and organized by a special core group made up of select Extentians. This core group was assisted by a comprehensive support staff made up of Extentia’s system administration team and a special crew that managed multiple aspects of the entire event including logistics, content, design, and online support. The live feed showcased photos, videos, hourly updates, and a busy comments section. The hackathon was also live-tweeted over 24-hours, along with updates on Facebook. Twitter posts were favorited and retweeted extensively using the hashtags ‘#HackathonX24’, ‘#Smartscape’, and ‘#X24’.
September 18 saw the Core, Org, X24 teams, and Crew assemble in RANGE for a pre-event session. It commenced with a SMART partner reveal -- once again we had multiple partners returning and new ones joining the X24 Season 5. This was followed by some new rules for the teams to follow during X24. This season had Wild Cards – three per team as well as SMART Kits and a base board that had to be utilized by the teams while creating the solution. After introducing the X24 SMART Gurus, the Org ran through the master schedule and judging criteria for the 2019 season.
Season 5 saw the introduction of a SMART ‘shop’ from which the teams could peruse a collection of mobile and Techquarium devices. Some of the wares on offer in the shop included iPhones, Chromecasts, NFC Stickers, a 3D Printer, and much more. It was made clear to participants that they needed to officially inform the Org before taking a given device out of the shop. Next, the Org announced a collection of new sensors and devices that the teams could make use of for their SMART solutions.
In addition to all of the above and in a collaborative twist, it was revealed that the Gurus would be awarding bonus points to teams that could connect their solutions together to solve any of their given challenge statements, for example, a SMART highway and a SMART toll.
On September 19, the Org, the teams, and the crew assembled in XEN LAB in the wee hours of 6 A.M. and began their final hour of preparation as they awaited the countdown to X24 Season 5. When the clock struck 7 A.M., X24 officially kicked off sending every team into a frenzy.
The challenge statement for each house was as follows –
1. Constant Variables – SMART Highway
The road transport authorities are in need of a solution that will help them to monitor and manage traffic by providing users with proper signals for speed limits, changing street lights based on vehicle movement, and notifying nearby vehicles of congestions.
2. Infinite – SMART Toll
A newly developed highway needs a smart toll system and is looking for a solution that will display the speed limit, optimize lane traffic to avoid congestion, collect toll charges based on vehicle type and weight, capture a vehicle’s image, open/close the toll gate, and alert authorities in case of non-payment of toll charges.
3. Parikrama – SMART Fire Control
The DB Mall wants to upgrade itself with some smart safety features detecting a fire and sounding an alarm, displaying the fire’s location on public screens, showing emergency exit lights, notifying customers and employees about evacuation plans, emergency services and sharing the GPS location with the fire station.
4. Royal Brigade – SMART Store
To create a SMART customer experience by tracking energy consumption based on lighting and cooling, changing the fan speed based on room size and the number of people, tracking the product inventory based on pressure on the shelves, displaying temperature, and screening product advertisement when someone passes by a specific location.
5. Spartans – SMART Farm
Create a solution that allows users to switch from electric power between the State Electricity Board and a windmill, control lighting for better growth of the plants, schedule watering based on the weather and fixed schedule, start/stop water pumps based on water levels, measure truck weight while leaving the farm with produce, maintain an appropriate temperature for the plants, and geofence livestock.
6. Unicorn – SMART Home
To enable a new house to change home light intensity based on ambient light, play music based on the specific time of the day and presence in the house, switch fans on/off with required intensity based on the room temperature and humidity, stop an alarm clock buzzer based on pressure, switch home electric power between State Electricity Board and solar panel, open and close the home garage gate based on car arrival/departure, and evaluate electric vehicle battery level.
Over the course of the staggered 24-hour time frame, each of our teams pushed themselves to the very limit in order to put together their respective SMART solutions in accordance with their challenge statements. At 3 P.M. on September 20, their time ran out and their fate was left up to the panel of judges.
The judges were taken through 15-minute pitches and demonstrations of each team’s SMART solution. Following this, they were invited to ask questions pertaining to each solution in order to thoroughly test and ascertain the scope of each SMART implementation. The pitches took a little over two hours and by 7 P.M. on Friday evening a champion was crowned.
Proceedings culminated in a grand closing ceremony where Naazneen and Umeed offered their gratitude to our judges, coaches, and participating teams along with the Core and the Org.
Shortly after, the moment we’d all been waiting for arrived as Naazneen announced the winners of X24 Season 5.
Constant Variables, Royal Brigade, and Unicorn were named the SMART Winners. Parikrama and Spartans shared the title of the first runners-up.
And finally, the winners of X24 Season 5 were – Infinite!
The announcement triggered raucous celebrations with a sea of yellow converging on the podium alongside our equally exuberant judges. Their victory party and parade raged long into the night and cries of joy could be heard across our offices.
Congratulations to all of the houses! It’s been a wonderful season and we’ll see you all next year.
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