Retail InMotion’s first internal Hackathon

As Retail inMotion’s Head of the Social Committee, it is my responsibility to ensure that people always have something fun to look forward to. We run many out of office work functions and finally decided to organize a niche event.

So, on the 15th and 16th of August 2019, Retail InMotion hosted its very first internal hackathon. I wanted to give people a break from their daily work routines and allow them to do something that they thought would be a fun idea to try out, while getting paid for it. It was a massive hit.

Read on to find out how it all went.

Why Host a Hackathon?

Hackathons are great for several reasons:

  1. Team Building. People work very closely together during a hackathon. Hackathon teams are usually made up of people from different internal teams, which allows them to meet and get to know each other better.
  2. Learning. People learn a lot during hackathons, usually out of necessity. Whether it’s about the problem landscape, a new tool or a new development framework, participants have the opportunity to discover something new that might even lead to finding a new passion.
  3. Innovation. Teams generate new ideas and solutions to problems in a very short period of time. Some ideas can be further developed and turned into fully fledged solutions that can be offered to clients.
  4. Break. Hackathons are a well-deserved break from the daily routine. They allow people to focus on something new and can give them a new outlook on their own work.

I wanted to keep the theme close to what we do at Retail InMotion, but also give our teams the flexibility and freedom to make something they are interested in. For this reason, the theme of the hackathon was “The Aviation and Travel Industry“. Teams were also free to work on anything work-related if they so desired. (Madness, I know. One team did that.) The teams took this theme and developed some excellent ideas in relation to it.

Teams only had 1.5 days to come up with an idea, decide on an MVP, build a prototype and create a presentation. Some teams utilized agile ways of working and managed to get an enormous amount of work done. Teams made heavy use of pair- and even quad- programming to get their prototypes ready. There was a massive variation in technologies used to build the various prototypes and that was really cool to witness. It seems we have someone for everything here at RiM, which speaks volumes about the skill spread of our dev team.

Below is a summary of all the projects developed during the hackathon.

HAL

An Augmented Reality Crew App that helps crew members fulfil their daily duties during flights. It transforms the pain points of Point-Of-Sales processes into seamless crew tasks, making it easier for the crew to see who needs what, instead of reading it from a list. The most notable potential features and uses are as follows: Augmented Passenger Manifest, Voice Ordering Recognition, Voice and Dictated Text Messages, Pre-Order 3D representation, Virtual Trolley Visualisation/Checks and Face Recognition Payments. This basically makes the crews’ lives a bit easier!

QuickQ

QuickQ is a simple app which provides a stress-free boarding experience for passengers around the world. It allows passengers to enjoy their waiting/boarding experience as standing in queues is no longer needed! This means no more 100-people long queues where passengers are pointlessly waiting for their assigned seats. QuickQ was built on Android and iOS.

Play InMotion: Win on Air

Play inMotion: Win on Air is a game for all ages designed to be played in-flight on portable devices. At its core, it’s a 2D side-scroller where you guide an airplane through obstacles for as long as possible to increase your score. Features like time of day and a changing architecture in the background provide an immersive experience. Future plans are to allow people with high scores to win actual prizes. Want to keep your child quiet? Give them this and they might win you something by the end of the flight! Everyone loves free stuff and quiet kids!

Shride

Sometimes, leaving the airport can be challlenging and getting in the wrong taxi can turn into a very expensive affair! Shride is a ride sharing app designed for travellers. It connects people landing at the same airport and going in the same direction so they can share a ride and save money! Driving somewhere from the airport? Offer a lift and maybe receive some money for your trouble or make a new friend along the way! Shride doesn’t provide a new transport or ride service but instead, it gives people the option to use all available services anywhere in the world.

Cash InMotion

The idea was to explore different ways of visualizing data from the Vector system instead of using traditional reports. The team focused on flight sales data and tried two different technologies: a web-based application written in JavaScript/React and an Android/UWP (Windows desktop) application written in Xamarin. The backend is a web API with a SignalR hub that broadcasts live data to the applications. The MVP explored the idea of displaying a map with a live feed of synchronized flight data in a visually pleasant way using smooth animations. It gives users something cool and interesting to look at, since we can all agree that it’s better to look at a map instead of a boring list of numbers.

Class Up

An inflight solution that allows crew members to auction off empty seats. Initially aimed at auctioning off Business and First-Class seats, it could also be extended to auction off spare meals and other items, if needed. An eBay in the skies, if you will. This project was considered the best among all projects developed at the hackathon, and I’m not saying that because I was on the team that developed it.

 

At the end of the hackathon, I hosted a presentation where each team showed off what they did via demos. The session was a lot of fun and went really smoothly. Initially, it was all going to be for “fun and learning”, but we eventually decided to offer a few prizes.

Winners

There were two winners: one picked by the judges and one picked by the audience.

  • QuickQ won the judges’ vote.
  • ClassUp won the popular vote. (Before you ask, it was not rigged even though my team won; I had the poll verified independently. )

The winning teams received a voucher for the Port House in Dundrum.

Photo of the winners enjoying their prize. Left to right: Danilo, Giacomo, Marco, Davide, Michele, Nataliia, Derek, Kiran. Not Pictured: Fikre

Conclusion and Next Steps

Overall, the hackathon was a complete success. People from different teams found a way to work together on new technologies and came up with fun and fresh ideas. Who knows, maybe some of these ideas may go on to be further developed within Retail inMotion. The feedback from attendees was excellent; they even asked when the next hackathon will take place.

RiM Hackathon 2: Electric Boogaloo is on its way!!

Stay tuned for more!

What Attendees Had to Say

“It was very interesting to work with colleagues you didn’t work with before.” – Michele Stefanelli

“It was great to be part of a new idea; a new product being created from the very beginning. It was a different role than my usual one in the office, so I gained experience and it was a lot of fun!” – Margherita Frezza

“Wonderful experience, lot of fun working with people outside my own team. It was great to design a real app from the ground up while considering how marketable our idea was.” – Davide Gigliotti