Android Hackathon – April 2011
April 18, 2011 4 Comments
The second hacking session of the Dublin GTUG was held over the weekend of April 16/17 2011. (The first one was a one-day event held between Xmas and New Year’s in late 2010 – this one was very much a ‘dipping the toe in the water’ to assess demand, make first mistakes, etc). In essence, this was our first real hacking session in which we expected proper results.
About 20 folks turned up for the event, mostly developers with limited experience with Android, but had gone through the preparation material that Eoin had put together.
The basic structure of the event was such that folks spend some of Saturday morning discussing what apps they would like to build and Saturday afternoon and Sunday is focused on making stuff; a show and tell took place on Sunday at 6ish.
Folks had thrown out some ideas for apps prior to the event and one or two had come with thoughts which they threw out on Sat morn. This gave us a list of applications which we needed to whittle down and figure out which people wanted to work on. After talking through this list, we reduced the list to the following 5:
- Virtual graffiti – use the accelerometer to make geo-tagged graffiti;
- Nightlink waker – tag your stop and the phone will notify you when you come within range of your stop (wake you up if you’ve fallen asleep!);
- Traffic congestion monitor – app which takes images from Dublin traffic cameras and shows how the traffic congestion has changed within the last hour;
- UI Builder – an app which allows you to play with UIs on the phone – can be used when people are on the move and are thinking about new UIs;
- Speech analysis tool – app which can determine if you’re talking too fast, useful in presentation context.
The teams busied themselves over the rest of Saturday afternoon and all through Sunday to produce something which works. At the show and tell, the teams had the following stories to tell:
- Nightlink waker – this team did a really nice job of producing a simple application in which you can specify the bus route, choose one of the stops on the route and receive notifications when the device comes within a specified range (1km) of the stop;
- Traffic congestion monitor – this team built an app which enables a user to select one of the traffic cams around Dublin city and view the last update from that traffic cam; they were working on making it possible to view traffic variations over the last period of time, but ran out of time on this feature;
- Speech analysis tool – this team were able to leverage advanced functionality offered by Gingerbread which provides support for visualization of frequency analysis of an input signal to produce an app which generates the frequency response of the input voice signal: next steps involved analysis of the frequency of occurence of particular vowels and comparison with some reference/calibrated levels;
- UI Builder – this team managed to develop an app in which it was possible to add UI components to a screen and configure them using the configuration options possible in Android. This layout information could then be sent somewhere and could then be incorporated into an app;
- Virtual Graffiti – this team had some significant issues with finding any kind of realistic use case for virtual graffiti and switched to an app which records the use of the accelerometer to understand if there is a crowd dancing. The idea was to base this on input from the accelerometer and gps tagging to identify when a group of people are moving with the same rhythm. Unfortunately, this team only got some very basic plumbing working and was not able to demonstrate the concept
The CherryText guys were also hanging around, moving their stuff forward, with a view to launching real soon now.
Overall, everyone seemed to enjoy the event – one recurring theme was that github gave rise to lots of configuration problems and people usually ended up using alternative solutions. Some of the apps may go forward and appear in a Market near you; some will most certainly die. Everyone improved their Android development skills.
We’re delighted that the first proper weekend hackathon went swimmingly and we’ll definitely be doing this again in the not too distant future – once a quarter sounds like the right frequency for this type of event and the focus does not have to be Android.
Big thanks to Jean for sorting out the logistics on the Google end, without whom, it would not have happened.