O.K. not a bar, but into the Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom for the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon. Never heard of a Hackathon? Well, until recently, I hadn’t either. It’s an event where teams of coders compete over a very short period of time to develop an app. As I learned, the “Hacking Dream Team” is to have a Hacker to do the guts of the app, the Hipster to focus on the look and feel of the app, and the Hustler to hold the project and team together. According to the event organizers, this was the best attended Hackathon TechCrunch has sponsored yet. Over 160 teams of coders competed to develop apps in less than 24 hours.
Attending the Hackathon was like getting a glimpse into the future and included demonstrations of 3-D printing and drones. Hundreds of coders hunched over their keyboards to crank out apps that ranged from the whimsical—such as the music app Game of Tones to the practical—like an app to help you with your job search called Career Hound—to those that combined the whimsical/practical such as RoboKeg.
Three of the teams took on a hacking challenge from AT&T and Environmental Defense Fund to build an app to save water. The challenge grew out of an AT&T-EDF project to reduce the water and energy used for cooling AT&T's buildings, with a focus on cooling tower operations. The tools we developed can help other companies and organizations save water and energy too—which is why we wanted to tap the expertise and creativity of coders to look into how our tools might work as an app. We made a double green pitch to coders—saying that this app could result in environmental benefits as well as offering a $5,000 top prize and $2,000 “most creative” prize to the best apps.
After developing their apps, the teams then had 60 seconds to pitch them. How did the teams do? You can see for yourself. Here’s the link to the pitches and pages for the AT&T-EDF challenge apps:
- 1st Place- Water MAPP pitch.
- 2nd Place- WaterLog pitch and their website.
- 3rd Place- WATERMAPP ATT Windows Phone App pitch and website.
The Hackathon leveraged the talent and creativity of coders to give us a glimpse of how our spreadsheet tools might work in the mobile app environment. You can check out the Beta version of Water MAPP app for yourself on Google play now.