A guest post by our very own Liad Bokovsky, who stepped up to the plate as Mashery developer evangelist so that Neil could fly off to India and catch the last third of Amit’s wedding. German language phrase inserts compliments of Neil.
The stars aligned for a great weekend from the get go. Berlin was set as the backdrop early on Saturday morning, Sebastian Vettel, the German Formula 1 driver and 3-time consecutive world champion, took pole position at the Indian Grand Prix and was about to clinch his 4th title in 4 years! That signals the beginning of a great German weekend! Meanwhile, in the Berlin Arena, developers started queuing for the first TechCrunch Disrupt Europe Hackathon and it was obvious that if everything went according to plan — that this was going to be another weekend that the Berliners would remember for a long time.
For the first time, European companies and developers did not have to make the trip across the pond in order to get noticed. Disrupt had come to Europe.
The hackathon, which took place two days before the main Disrupt conference, attracted developers from all over the world. Developers from Uruguay, Mexico, Kenya and Dubai showed up and joined many other hackers from a number of European countries. As diverse as the crowd was, so were the hacks themselves with people building anything from small apps to complete hardware solutions for radiation monitoring! From apps about music nostalgia to social influence and travel apps.
A Hackathon with a Unique German Flavor
The hackathon organization was flawless, thanks to the local Berlin teams on the ground as well as to TechCrunch. Great food, great location, brilliant snacks… and when the clock struck midnight, the local Berlin beer came out.
At just about the midnight hour, just outside the Berlin Arena, on a docked boat, was the thumping Hoppetosse Club. It’s bass-line accompanied the event throughout the night until the late hours of the morning. While I am sure it was not planned by the TechCrunch organizers, it added a nice little twist to the location.
Whether you were sore from clubbing on the neighboring boat, or from just hacking too long on your laptop, an intense back massage might be just your thing. Big kudos to Lufthansa for providing non-stop back, shoulder and head massages at their sponsor table (I may have indulged one or two times).
Hacking Die Ganze Nacht Lang
It was a long weekend. 24 hours of development which produced 90 hacks! Each team had 60 seconds to demo their creation and get the crowd excited and the conditions were ruthless. While most people did well, this nerve wracking experience took it’s toll and a few great apps got little to no recognition, crushed by a non-forgiving 1-minute limit. Some team members got too nervous and lost the crowd and the judges very quickly. This was significantly different from the almost family-like atmosphere you experience at smaller European hackathons.
Source: TechCrunch on Flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/techcrunch/10508989055/in/set-72157636973272026
Die Besten Und Bemerkenswertesten Häcks
I was lucky enough to catch all of the demos, and here are a few notable hacks that stood out.
Source: TechCrunch on Flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/techcrunch/10513969984/in/set-72157636973272026
- foursquare preCheck-in (demo video)
The foursquare preCheck-in app gives users the possibility to let people know about locations they plan to visit. This was the overall winner and seem like a really nice and useful tool to find out what people plan on doing in an area you are about to visit.
- Era (demo video)
Era used the Rdio API (which is managed by Mashery) to create an app that delivers a musical blast from your past. Login with Facebook and you’ll be able to scroll back in time to view photos from your younger years shown to the music of Britney Spears, NSYNC, Hootie and the Blowfish, and other artists of their era. In my case it revealed some gems like Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails and Einstürzende Neubauten. But each to his own I guess!
Era won the Mashery award for best use of a Mashery managed API. They got to take an iPong Pro - a ping pong (table tennis) professional training robot with all associated kit included! (except the table)
- Twpple (demo video)
Twpple developers came all the way from Kenya to bring us this new conceptual idea of getting paid for the influence you have on social media sites. They used the Mashery managed Klout API to check for influencers’ K scores and created a market place for connecting small business owners with social media influencers and opinion shapers.
This is an awesome little tool that identifies what glove size you need! If you’ve ever tried to buy gloves online, you will know how amazing this tool can be. Glovr helps you to find gloves in your size from Zalando’s web shop and is using a leap motion device to measure your palm. Very cool! Glovr won the Zalando award.
- The Social Times (demo video)
The Social Times is an online news site that fetches your Twitter information and analyses the relevance of links shared by those who you follow. It’s a nice little way to read news and follow people online.
- How to Get Into Berghain (demo video)
This is Berghain: http://bit.ly/HtK0BO - Getting in is borderline impossible without the right attire. This little app will explain to you what to wear and where to buy it!
- Open Radioactivity Warning System (demo video)
This is probably the most ambitious hardware hack of the weekend. The goal of this project is to establish a global network of sensor nodes for radioactivity, which transmit their measurement results in combination with their geographical location in regular intervals to a central server. The server is responsible for communication with the sensor nodes and the visualization of the data.
This is tool is designed to be a warning as well as an educational tool.
- Tech Crunch GP (demo video)
In case you were wondering, Sebastian Vettel did clinch his 4th consecutive title with a world class dominating performance at the Indian F1 Grand Prix. Our friends here built a multiplayer GP game which they demoed on screen while some of the racers were in the crowd!
Das ist das Ende
Overall it was a great weekend of networking, brain storming, fine food and an excellent atmosphere. TechCrunch has set a high bar for future European large hackathons, but I am sure that others will rise to the challenge helping us create more awareness and generating success for European-based companies and developers in the future.
Until the next Disrupt! Auf Wiedersehen!