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Successful at Nokia Hackathon in Monaco

We were invited by Nokia to attend their Hackathon Widget coding contest alongside the Nokia Developer Summit in Monaco/Monte Carlo (we mentioned that earlier). It was a great chance to get to know many interesting people in the mobile development space and especially in the area of widget development based on Nokia’s Web Runtime (WRT).

The hackathon contest was all about implementing ideas of customers in a 24h period and we implemented an idea for a travel planner widget by Bruce Hopkins from Joplin, Missouri, USA. The basic idea was to create an application to collect all travel related information, such as flight numbers, times and car rental reservation info of a trip to have that handy while you are on the go so you would not have to mess around with printed paperwork. But let’s tell Bruce the whole story (and myself a bit about PavingWays and the contest):

Related to one of our new services, called Panda Route, which is a travel diary service (with a planning part), we created the Panda Route WRT widget - a useful and cute application to have all your travel data at hand on your S60 device while you are on your trip. Before you start your trip, you enter all the details you need to remember and the widget will show you on the homescreen of the device (on a N97) which step should be your current one and when you should arrive at your destination. Additional to that you get Tweets related to your destination location - a great source for events, disease warnings, weather and anything else people care about.

We programmed almost throughout all of the 24 hours, that is I was programming while Diana attended the business-related keynotes and talks of the summit. There was a small party break of about 3 hours with some drinks, a gourmet buffet and Synchronous Swimming action at the Monte Carlo Beach Club and I even managed to get 2 hours of sleep.
At the end the contest things became a bit hectic for almost all of the teams. There were issues with the WiFi, probably because all of the contestants were accessing it at once and some of the pre-production N97s would not play along as they were expexted to. After all we even managed to do some testing of about 10 minutes and the final deployment to our N97 happened 3 minutes before the countdown hit 00:00:00.

Admittedly we didn’t develop the most advanced widget in regard to the technologies used, we integrated only one external API (Twitter), apart from local storage didn’t make use of any of the device capabilities. But apparently the jury was not only looking for technology, but also for marketability and usefulness from the customer-perspective. So maybe our cute panda and our strict focus on developing an application that fulfills a real purpose and that would work, even if you’re not connected to the web (such as on a plane) helped. Finally we were chosen as one of the top 3 teams out of all competing companies from all over the world. Then there was a final presentation and judgment in one of the big conference rooms and we placed 2nd runner up (that’s 3rd place) and scored some cash along with 2 weeks of premium placement for our widget in Nokia’s OVI store that’s soon to be launched. As I was presenting the Panda Route widget to top executives of Nokia and a fairly big crowd of developers I was glad that the thing worked as it should.

We had a great time in Monaco and want to thank Nokia for this awesome event and the chance to meet all these great people from Brazil, Mexico, Singapore, USA, UK, Finland, Slovenia and even Germany, of course also for the price we won.

We are really excited about the travel planner widget and we are sure it’s going to be an exciting time once OVI is open to the public and real customers actually start using our Panda Route widget.

There was massive blog, video and picture coverage throughout the event, so if you want, you can check that out on the event page, vimeo and youtube. And if you are into travel diaries, make sure you sign up for the Panda Route travel diary service as well!

A final note: we were often referred to as “Pavingsway” by Nokia, there must have been a bit of a mixup, but it’s not a problem at all, we quickly reserved that domain too ;)
Sources: Nokia Blog Forum Nokia Blog