Sunday, March 4, 2012

Fantastic Dublin Science Hackday event indicates that ireland has a bright future

Crochet model of a red Blood Cell
The first ever Dublin Science Hackday was held this weekend in Dublin City University. The event was part of the Dublin City of Science 2012 celebration. This event involved teams of amateur completing challenging projects over a grueling 36 hours. I say amateurs as a compliment because although many of the participants are professionals, they completed in this event purely out of their love of science and technology.

I initially planned to take part in the event myself, but as I got closer to the event the reality of spending 36 hours of my weekend working on a hack began to scare me and I chickened out. Instead I attended the kick-off talks on the Saturday and then gave a few words of encouragement to the participants before I went back to my normal weekend activities. Luckily there was lots of status updates posted to the #dubscihack hashtag on Twitter so I could follow along with the excitement from home. I then returned to DCU on Sunday afternoon to see what had been accomplished. I found the participants very much more subdued (not surprising after 36 hours without sleep), but the projects were very impressive.

You can see all of the details of the projects completed here, of even watch the project presentations on Ustream, but the prize winners were:
  • Best use of Government Data went to the YPath project which developed an application for children to track their physical activity.
  • Most interesting Use of Data went to the Financial Market Sonification project which produced an audio stream which provides an audio stream that represents a summary of the activity in the market so that traders can have ambient awareness.
  • The Hardware Award went to the Aurora Lamp  which used LEDs to project information about the level of the Aurora Borealis activity.
  • The Design Award went to Open Stats Wiki developed a cool mobile application to allow fans to use their smartphone record statistics of a match the attended live as the action unfolds. This hack will have a bright future because there are many people who share an obsession with sport and an obsession with technology.
  • The People's Choice Award went to The Aurora Orrery project build a visualization of from where on the globe the Aurora activity can be seen.
  • Last but not least, the hBest in Show Award went to the Elements Trail project which built an augmented reality layer using Layar. to build a treasure hunt game based upon the periodic table
It is also worth giving honorable mention to:
  • Tríona (@triploidtree) completed who the CIYbio project (crochet it yourself biology) which involved  using crochet to build models of things to do with biology (to help teaching). I am not sure if it was useful, but the models were certainly cute.
  • μsic developed a cool application that mixed music listening with social networking.
  • The intermeter project projected the level of Network activity from the science hackday into a simple amp meter.
I think that Ireland has a very bright future when we have bright hackers like this. Well done to everyone who contributed to the event.

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