Hack the Midlands

On Saturday 23 September, I went to Millennium Point in Birmingham for Hack the Midlands, a 24-hour hackathon event organised by Tom Goodman, the chair of our University of Birmingham student chapter and made possible with funding provided from the BCS Birmingham Branch.

Millennium Point, Birmingham

This event was attended by 175 young people who had all come for a weekend of innovation. I, along with the other sponsors, kicked the event off by giving a talk (from a very high podium!) about our organisations and then setting the criteria we would be judging on at the end of the event (the BCS challenge was to create something with a positive societal impact).

Photos from the Hack the Midlands event (1)

Photos from the Hack the Midlands event (2)

I was given a space to set up some info so that people could stop by and have a chat. There were also various workshops going on throughout the Saturday. The schedule was brutal!

Hack the Midlands schedule

Hack the Midlands VR

Anyone in need of some light relief could relax by shooting some zombies in VR! After dinner, it was bedtime for me... but not for the hackers who would be working well into the night! I returned on Sunday morning, fresh faced and ready to start the day... and after a few more hours of hacking the deadline hit and everyone presented their innovations to the judges.

Hack the Midlands presentation session

Hack the Midlands judges

Photo from the Hack the Midlands event (3)

There was everything from Tetris and puzzle games to ultrasound robots and exercise apps based on weather data.

Photo from the Hack the Midlands event (4)

In the end for the BCS prize (Amazon Dots) I chose VCS which looked at reducing health inequalities and improving population health and wellbeing in local areas by linking high quality research, innovation and engagement to operational practice in a community-led asset-based delivery process. And in joint first place, a cycle safety initiative in the form of a bike helmet which linked to a dashboard for the handlebars which activated headlights and indicator lights on the helmet, all engineered from scratch!

The overall winner was Bubbl which used augmented reality to allow users to “drop”, “pick up” and play songs left by other users in certain locations. Overall, we felt that this could be used in loads of other ways such as museums and zoos - leaving information to be picked up around their attractions.

This was a fantastic event to be a part of, it was so inspiring to see the unbelievable talent (and stamina!) of the participants, and the precision with which the organisers ran the event. Hopefully Hack the Midlands will continue to nurture and inspire local talent for many years to come!