A weekend of coding at the Eneco Toon Hackathon in Amsterdam
- Posted on April 30, 2015
This is a guest blog post written by Avanade alum, Rosan Mosterman.Last month, I participated in the Eneco Toon Hackathon, an event that brought together 60 contestants who were challenged to develop a new application for the smart thermostat Toon. The fun of joining a hackathon is a full weekend doing the thing you like the most, coding! Also, it is fun to speak with colleagues you do not see regularly.
The Toon is a smart thermostat, which can give people insight in their energy use and allow them to set up programs, and turn these on and off via the application. Also, you can control the smart plugs and Philips hue lights. At the moment, the Toon app is only available for Android and iOS devices. We from Avanade wanted to show the possibilities of the Windows platform so we built a Windows and a Windows Phone application
Here’s how the event unfolded over the weekend:
Hackathon participants met at café Radion in Amsterdam before the hackathon started at 8pm. At the opening, Eneco explained the rules and goals of the hackathon. Every table had a Toon thermostat installed with one smart plug and three Philips hue lights. We shared the tasks within our group of ten colleagues. Together with a colleague, I started building a data caching layer. We wanted to make sure the application could show the data immediately. It was a challenge to make sure that only new information was downloaded and existing information was kept on the device.
A bit more tired than the day before, we returned to the hackathon. Surprisingly, I learned some colleagues worked the whole night! I continued working on the background task, an app feature that checks if new information is available. This was an interesting learning experience for me, especially the part of making this work cross-platform (for Windows and Windows Phone).
During the day, organizers videotaped the event so people at home could follow us. Fortunately, my colleagues were so kind to do the interviews. (A camera in your face after a few hours of sleep is not always pleasant.) I learned it is important to tell your story briefly and to keep your goal in mind. “I am here to sell my product and I am here to convince you of my great product.” This is the kind of attitude you need.
At 12 o’clock, all work stopped on app development. The camera crew came by to film a demo of all the products so teams could view their presentations prior to the pitches. Our team made a Windows application and a Windows Phone application so you can read the current temperature, configure programs, control hue lights and smart plugs, get insight in your energy use displayed in graphs and even connect to Cortana.
Later in the afternoon, awards were given to winning teams. Congratulations to the winning team, “Who pays Watt” for their app that provides housemates with an overview of their personal energy usage. The event concluded with drinks and we all had the opportunity to talk with other teams and organizers from the hackathon. I had a really nice time, it was an educational weekend. Many thanks to my colleagues who also participated:
- Sander Schutten
- Geert van der Cruijsen
- Derk Hudepol
- Kelvin van Geene
- Joris Kommeren
- Tim van Driel
- Jeroen Nijhuis
- Stefan van den Braak
- Ruben Middel
I hope to see you at the next hackathon!
Below is a video demo of the app we created at the event, enjoy.