HackZurich 2016 was a huge success with 565 participants attending from 48 countries from across Europe. Swiss Re was among the 41 sponsor companies as a bronze level sponsor but we achieved a gold level impact. Attendance at our workshops was exceptionally high with around 130 of the 565 participants (25%) attending the Swiss Re/IBM joint sessions. Furthermore, a disproportionate number of teams opted for our challenge. Instead of an expected seven teams, three times more or 21 teams responded to the Swiss Re/IBM challenge.
The Swiss Re/IBM challenge: Smart Homes and Insurance
In future, data from home sensors and the surrounding environment will contribute to making the world more resilient. IBM offered data from their smart home in Berlin along with access to their Bluemix cognitive platform to HackZurich participants. The challenge was to assess, reduce or manage risks in the home through preventive risk alerts. Several case scenarios were promoted such as addressing the needs of the ageing population.
In the forty hours leading up to the submission deadline at 9:00 on Sunday, 150 teams developed around the clock to deliver a functional app and pitch their idea to the jury. The jury chose three main winners, 10 Workshop Awards, 7 Techtalk Awards and there was also an Audience Award.
The jury’s favourite was team ‘Ivy’ who won CHF 5’000 for an intelligent voice-controlled app that allows you to design a web-sites in minutes using non-rigid voice commands. The application of a Natural Language Processing API to make the programming process easier also fascinated the developers and the Ivy team went home with the Audience Award as well.
The Swiss Re/IBM workshop resulted in many good pitches. Some teams shone with their data science skills, while others wooed the audience with their ideas. For example there was a very entertaining mock-up of a pair of glasses that send images to an image recognition service to spot various types of danger.
The winning team however convinced the jury with a cleanly executed app that addressed a practical on-topic problem: ‘Triangle Works’ created a Smart home solution that recognizes unusual activities such as large fluctuations in energy consumption to create risk mitigation alerts for friends, family or insurance providers.
Our workshop was an invitation to reinvent insurance with Watson and the Internet of Things. Furthermore, the Swiss Re ‘Smarter Together’ and ‘making the world more resilient’ narratives seem to resonate well with the target audience of talented and innovative developers. The IBM/Cognitive brand also exerted a strong pull. The many visitors to the Swiss Re/IBM booth, watched the Swiss Re video loop, picked up our materials or engaged in conversation. Besides the many participants who wanted to know more about our activities in the smart analytics field, our team had many good conversations with other sponsor companies including clients and potential collaboration partners.
Everyone wins actually
Sometimes, a Hackathon leads to a start-up company or project that develops the idea. However, everyone has the chance to make friends and establish contacts, so everyone is a winner in this sense. And from a recruitment perspective both IBM and Swiss Re came home with some very good names and phone numbers.
For more information contact Sergio Vaccani or visit Hack Zurich.
Location: Zürich, Switzerland