Hackathon Insights: August Edition



August 25, 2017

At the end of each month, we organize an internal hackathon during which WATTx-ers dedicate two days to working on side projects outside their normal scope without the distraction of daily tasks. In August, we hacked on three key projects. Read up on each one and decide for yourself which one was the winner.

Kiwi Pi

The doors to our WATTx office are controlled by an automatic lock system called Kiwi, requiring all employees to use a mobile app to access the office. To open a door, the user selects the correct one within the app before clicking a button in a subsequent step. In an ideal scenario, the access is granted within a few seconds. In an ideal scenario, the access is granted within a few seconds. However, the Kiwi app can be a bit slow and sometimes you don’t have the free hands to use your phone, especially when you’re taking your bike into the office.

Rafal, our Frontend Developer, took on the challenge of improving this process. His solution is comprised of face detection and recognition software and two pieces of hardware (a Raspberry Pi and a camera) that he attached to our glass entry door.

Introducing, Kiwi Pi:

Wen testing Kiwi Pi (at the right)

The Kiwi Pi setup requires a user to stand in front of the door and looking into the camera for a couple of seconds while the program running on the Raspberry Pi tries to match the face to pictures stored in the local database. In case of a positive match, the door opens automatically without using an app or a key. Faces that cannot be matched to the database are marked as intruders and their pictures are saved in a seperated folder.

You can read more about the technical specifications here.

Wx Roadmap

Mikhail, our Tech Team Lead, took on the challenge to convert our WATTx roadmap from an excel spreadsheet into a user-friendly web application. The application allows team and project leads to allocate personnel resources, quickly identify which employee is currently busy with which tasks, as well as plan ahead for future projects.

As WATTx has a unique way of working, Mikhail experienced difficulties finding an existing tool that covered our internal needs. So he decided to build a solution from scratch. He first prototyped his idea in a spreadsheet together with our UX Lead Tatiana. The result was aesthetically designed, however, it was a challenge to keep updated and flexible. In a final step, Mikhail translated the prototype into a web application that also allows real-time updates as well as simultaneous collaboration.


A bialetti on top of the second Cophi prototype

You’ve probably already read about Cophi from one of our previous hackathons. The Cophi Team Wen, Franzi, and Christian decided to use this hackathon to pick up the project again to improve and stabilize the solution.

In the first iteration, the project team preferred to use less electronic components in order to keep the solution cheap. They connected a scale (that assesses whether there is still coffee in the bialetti) to Wemos, a wifi and bluetooth board without its own operating system. The solution worked, however, the absence of an operating system made it hard to handle possible errors.

During the last hackathon, the project team used a Raspberry Pi instead of Wemos, which comes with its own operating system. Wen, our Embedded Software Developer, wrote a simple python script to run on top of this OS and read the sensors of the scale. The whole setup was connected to Slack, which sends messages to the team once the coffee is ready and helps team members avoid cold leftovers.