I got a chance to take part in Yahoo! Open Hack event held this year in Bangalore. I was a bit reluctant to go there as I had no clear idea about what I shall hack about and I didn't have even a friend to team up for this event. However, this event is one of its kind where you get a chance to meet and team up with other people on the spot. So, somehow I teamed up with Bhiman Patil, a fresh college graduate, who was sitting next to me and who too didn't have a team. We discussed a few ideas about what we could hack about. Then, he called up another guy, Muthu Subramanian, an independent coder, who had contacted him before to team up. So, now we had a team of three and we were now ready to decide on what we were going to hack about as hacking time period was about to start in an hour.
Muthu had a great hack idea which we set off to develop during the 24 hours given to us. His idea was to develop an emergency messaging service which could allow a person in trouble/need to send a SOS sms conveying the kind of service needed, his current location and mobile no. to a central server. The emergency service providers like fire station, police station and hospital services, all over the place are registered with their current location and contact number with this central server. The victim keeps sending such smses at periodic intervals to keep the central server updated about his current location. When the central server receives a new SOS request for first time, it finds out the nearest service provider for the kind of service requested by victim based on the location of victim and locations of service providers of that kind. Then, the central server sends an SMS to that nearest service provider with information about contact no. of victim and a URL which points to the latest location information of victim stored at central server. This way, the service provider can try to provide help to the victim as soon as possible.
We identified the tasks involved to develop this hack and divided into three pieces.
- An android app which the victim shall use to send an emergency message.
- done by Bhiman Patil
- A web interface using Yahoo! maps which gets updated when a new request is received and this interface is monitored at central server to keep track of requests.
- done by me
- Application logic to keep updating the central server database with victim's information and the application logic to find out the nearest service provider.
- done by Muthu
Surprisingly, at the end of 24 hours, we had a prototype which was working. By the way, these 24 hours were not just 24 hours of pure coding, these 24 hours were of pure fun. It included an hour of dance entertainment in the evening and sumptuous lunch, dinner and midnight dinner as well 🙂
At the end of coding hours, there were around 160 hacks submitted and hence, the judging of hacks were broken into two stages. In the pre-judging round, there were 5 groups of judging panels. Each hack idea presenter was given 90 seconds to convey his idea across to the judging panel. After that, finally 50 hacks were shortlisted and all of them again had 90 seconds on stage. This time the audience was all the hackers and not just the judging panel.
We were thrilled when our team#106 was announced in top 50 and it was the last team to be announced in serial order. We did our best to make use of 90 seconds to put across our idea to judges but it was not good enough 🙁
We were a bit disappointed but thanks to the free beer being offered at end of event, the disappointment kept disappearing with each burp. Now, two days back, I get a call from event organizers that we were in the top#25 and they would like us to send across a presentation of our hack so that they can pass it on to the other people in the company to have a look at it. If the senior folks are interested in making something useful of our hack, they shall contact us back again 🙂
Here's a small presentation of our hack.