London hackathon

Christophe Pons, from the Philips hue marketing team, shares his experiences as a non-programmer at last year's London hackathon...

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend my first hackathon, organized diligently by Techmeetups, a global network of Tech communities from San Francisco to Sydney. Venue for this was the awesome Rainmaking Loft, a fancy but affordable co-working space for promising startups and enthusiastic entrepreneurs. That pretty much sets the tone of the reigning atmosphere, allowing for a great weekend full of energy, networking and ideation. With the Tower Bridge, the St Katherine docks and the Tower of London at just a stone’s throw away, our team had the opportunity to throw in some tourist time during downtime. Good stuff!

Having no previous experience or expectations whatsoever with this kind of event, I was truly amazed by the ideas and drive that the participants showed all along the weekend, coding, improving and perfecting their apps. Well, let’s set the scene; we (as the Philips Hue team) were presenting sponsors at the event, and we surely hoped that people would be eager to get started with the physical developer kits and SDK’s that we brought along.

Yup, that’s right. People can get creative with the open Hue API and develop own apps that will boost the Hue ecosystem with extra functionality and, in the end, result in a more diverse and crowd fueled platform, centered around our lighting system and low-cost home automation. Exiting times ahead!

In that context it was truly incredible for me to see what those creative minds came up with, related to our hue ‘personal wireless lighting’ system. An app that could augment the emotions and atmosphere during the start phase of race games, one that shows you the shortest in-store route to the shelf that contains your desired product in a supermarket (using unique colors shown by LED light strips) or another which reports realtime on the satisfaction levels of customers in restaurants. Use-cases that our own bright minds hadn’t necessarily come up with behind their Eindhoven desks.

Furthermore, it was a pleasure to see our own technical people getting out of their daily routine, and meet up with other programmers and ideators, boosting their own motivation to improve the existing system in the future. Presenting our developer program and our vision of the future of hue, coaching and helping out people who got stuck after hours and hours of programming … They offer a valuable extra for these guys. And it showed!

Finally, thanks to Mirjana at Techmeetups and Oli at the Rainmaking Loft for the extremely interesting and enriching event. Beautiful venue, quality audience, tasty catering and most importantly for a Belgian citizen … Stella’s :-). Makes me wanna come back for more!