A Rolling Good Time at HacknRoll 2014

“C is OK, ” the presenter mused, about the fact that Pebble smart watches allowed apps to be written in this language. “At least it’s not Assembly.” This last remark elicited an appreciative roar from the audience, who proceeded to send it judiciously throughout the twitterverse.

The place was “Com 1,” a hall in the Computer Science building of National University of Singapore.  The atmosphere was friendly and there was anticipation in the air.  Soon, HacknRoll 2014 would be in full swing.

An annual 24-hour event, HacknRoll is produced by  NUS Hackers, a student organization from the National University of Singapore (NUS) that is committed to being “a support system for hackers in NUS who are currently building things.” Previous participants include the founders of Semantics3, the first Singaporean startup to enter Y-Combinator, and applications developed in HacknRoll 2013 include a WiFi-­based room headcount system and a remote-­controlled car driven by facial tracking.

As a participating sponsor, we enjoyed being on site to witness firsthand the birth of several innovative and thought-provoking apps.

The event began with an opening address from Vishnu, who spelt out the rules of the Hackathon, and this was followed by a few words from the sponsors.

Palantir gave an extremely impressive demo of a web app that helps law enforcement officers locate and stop fleeing criminals. Indra, our CEO, also gave a short address.

Then a popular personality, Fazli Sapuan, spoke about his reasons for choosing Pebble above other smart watches in the market, and offered up to 10 smart watches for test purposes to anyone who wanted to develop a Pebble app during the Hackathon. Some of the apps he has written are available here.

And then it was time to get started.   It was a full house.  Hackathon participants gathered in the computer hall in groups and began their brainstorming for their 24-hour hackventure.

While Hackathoners assembled and worked on their projects, we visited with a few of our booth neighbours.  Here’s the team from Palantir, looking very smart.  Their Singapore office is in Marina Bay Sands.

We also met the two enterprising founders of Big Spoon, an interesting app that provides timely services and personalized dining experiences.

After several sleepless but productive hours, it was time to submit and review the applications.  Following careful selection, the top five teams were announced.

And after some deliberation, the winners were announced.

Distribute.io came in first.  Here they are with all their winning loot, including individual one-year subscriptions to SimplerCloud servelets.

In third place was the team Tapture the Flag – here they were during their presentation.

The event ended with tired but victorious winners heading home.  Well done, NUS Hackers – we look forward to HacknRoll 2015!  Were you at HacknRoll 2014?  What was your favourite part?