HERE at the Smart Energy & Transportation Hackathon 2015

20 October 2015 by Richard Süselbeck

The coffee was terrible. However, that's the only negative thing that can be said about the Smart Energy & Transportation Hackathon which took place at the Rainmaking Loft in Berlin on the last weekend of September. While the BMW Berlin Marathon drew slightly bigger crowds that Friday, both events were supported by HERE and the hackers had at least as much fun as the runners (though most likely a lot less sleep).

With a theme like "Smart Energy & Transportation", it's no surprise that mapping and location services were in high demand. Over half of the teams used the HERE APIs and SDKs, often in combination with APIs and data provided by other partners of the event, which included Intel, Airbus, TNT, Cisco and Deutsche Bahn.

In fact, Team X-Impact, winners of the 1st Prize, also won the HERE Special Prize for best use of the HERE APIs (which happened to be a sweet Sphero Star Wars BB-8 Droid for each member of the team). X-Impact's mobile app determines the carbon footprint of your trips and allows you to offset the carbon cost at the press of a button. What makes their use of HERE technology so special is the clever implementation of various APIs to automatically detect the user's mode of transport, such as bike, car or train.

Some of the techniques used to achieve this involve the use of the HERE Route Match API, the HERE Places API as well as the HERE Isoline API. The Route Matching API for example, computes the most probable route from a GPS trace. This allows X-Impact to match a user's trip with a route for a specific mode of transport as determined by the HERE Routing API. In addition, the Places API was used to determine whether a certain trip had passed through a set of train stations, thus indicating the use of a train.

Finally, the Isoline API allows developers to determine the set of end points of all routes leaving from a certain location with a specified travel time and mode of transport. X-Impact used this powerful feature to rule out modes of transport. For example, if a trip's end point is outside of the calculated set for public transport, the user must have used another means of transportation.

It bears repeating that the coffee was terrible. However, the rest of the catering was superb. With choices like Korean burritos by Fräulein Kimchi and Mexican lasagna from the Loft's resident chef, the excellent food kept everyone motivated and hacking away. Even late at night there was a lot of creative energy at the event, as you can see from this video featuring lots of sleep-deprived but enthusiastic people (and one very happy BB-8 droid).

Some of the great submissions created in this atmosphere include WayPay, which enables seamless ticketing and dynamic pricing on public transport as well as Ghost Race, which allows you to race yourself while on the subway. BoxBike aims to disrupt both bike sharing and package delivery at the same time while Shairbus wants to reduce companies' travel costs. Thousands of Euros of prizes were handed out when the event came to a close on Sunday evening, and every single prize was well deserved.

Yes, the coffee was terrible, but we'll be back anyway. After all, there's always Club Mate for all your caffeine needs.