Melbourne’s the place to be – startups, hackathons and tonnes of tech

Over the last two weeks Melbourne has seen the Unearthed hackathon as well as the Future Assembly Tech Expo. It’s a city bursting with startup culture!

Following success in Perth, the team from Unearthed bought their people to Melbourne for one of Australia’s only resource focused hackathon. By bringing together devs, designers and industry professionals, some amazing solutions were discovered. Teamsquare in Melbourne’s CBD became home base for the hackathon with enough food, drinks, coffee and good times to sink a ship.

Unearthed was unique and unlike most hackathons I’ve attended in the past. What was interesting was the age difference and types of participants. Instead of the usual university student devs there were an abundance of professionals, with hackers from CSIRO, Iluka and Thales in attendance. Mining experts also came along. It would have been great to see more however, as industry insight carries massive benefits. Whilst devs are great at solving problems and deriving solutions, sometimes those products aren’t viable for the end user. Make sure you always get some customer feedback no matter what hackathon you are competing in or problem you are trying to solve.

Trying to solve problems in the resources sector through innovative solutions
Trying to solve problems in the resources sector through innovative solutions

Anyways, onto the more important things – the winners, grinners and solutions!  We had motion tracking, data collection, site/hazard detection, wearable tech, data visualisation, augmented reality and more. I won’t talk about all of them because there were so many amazing things, but here’s the winners. In a close race, Solution42 came second for their monitoring solution. They used machine learning, augmented reality, sensors and 3D visualisation to monitor indicators such as sound, temperature and pressure in processing plants. First place took the cake with an impressive solution. They targeted the wearable tech challenge with their tagline “IoT is soooo last year, it’s now all about wearable technology”. Using bluetooth sensors on almost every piece of safety equipment imaginable, PPE of Things could provide real-time information about site data, hopefully preventing injury and death. Team PPE gave a humorous presentation using props to engage the audience. It’s a big step forward for the resources sector and hopefully Team PPE’s product will be developed further.

A notable characteristic of the Unearthed hackathon is the teams were slightly larger. This was no exception for the winners. The team of seven consisted of students from RMIT and staff from CSIRO. Unearthed also wanted to acknowledge the contribution of young entrepreneurs and had a young innovator award (under 25) which went to MineWatch for their implementation of bluetooth to track data and monitor sites. It’d be fantastic to see more hackathons with this kind of diversity.

Congrats to everyone who entered. Check out my events tab for more hackathons coming up!!!

Hackathons to Tech Expo

There was tonnes of hype surrounding Australia’s newest emergent technology expo, Future Assembly. If you were lucky enough to attend you’d know it was a site of great innovation, entrepreneurial endeavours and young startups. Of course companies like Tesla were present, but their beautiful Model S did not overshadow the range of technology presented by the next generation of tech companies.

Before I go on, I will say I was fortunate enough to score a test drive in the Tesla and let me say amazing just doesn’t cut it. It was an absolutely beautiful ride!!! With an all electric motor and no gear box the car transitions in a smooth and easy way. The 17″ display screen tells you everything you need to know, from your profile to electrical usage, music and tonnes more. Would highly recommend. The price tag is unfortunately well out of my reach but if I had the money I’d buy one in a heartbeat.

Back to Future Assembly now… so much sweet tech there. Plattar had a range of sweet augmented reality applications. Showing off a zombie pizza fighting game next to a business card pop up awesome-thing was just amazing! They really hit home with the diversity AR is capable of. Bitcoin was giving out limited edition gold and silver coins – no they can’t be used as currency – and wearable tech made an appearance with Hexoskin. These guys were amazing. Their technology can be built into almost any piece of clothing. They have the most sophisticated body metrics tracking including breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen consumption and steps per minute.

As usual, 3D printing was big on the scene with Make-Create and their range of printables, The Robots Are Coming who were scanning visitors and Avargadi with their neat collection of lighting. Not only are their lights 3D printed, but they’re 3D printed with corn starch making them highly sustainable. At the end of the lamp’s life, you can simply throw it in the compost bin! The globes are also insanely efficient with a 6W LED globe but the energy output of a 40W.

The guys from LAB-14 and the Melbourne Accelerator Program made sure they didn’t miss the moment with SCANN3D, Quanticare, xLabs and Relectrify showing off their respective technologies. SCANN3D were popular, giving VR tours of the site. Phil from Quanticare was seen on stage talking about predictive healthcare, a topic becoming increasingly important in today’s society as we move towards more personalised treatment.

All these technologies and companies spoken about so far have gained traction and been around for at least a number of months… but remember back to the Microsoft hackathon a few weeks ago? The teams from Dr Band and the guys who created Ani were there (having a booth at Future Assembly was part of the winning prize pool). The organisers of FA15 were thrilled to see such brand new startups and were amazed at how far each had progressed in mere weeks.

Dr Band had their tech working nicely and had some sweet business cards to go with it. The team who created Ani had morphed from OnePoint into, a company who makes cool stuff simply because they can. I won’t say too much about black… because I actually joined them! People have been saying to me all year “you need a startup”, “you’ll have a startup by the end of the year”, “find a startup and apply for MAP”. Well I can now say I’ve given in and working with black. Don’t worry I’m still the Events Coordinator at Carlton Connect and still the Hackthon Goddess (I’ll be at all the hackathons, startups and codefests going on). Yep, it’s a lot to do but it’s worth it!

I will say a couple of things about Ani and black though. That it’s incredibly awesome working with a group of amazing, passionate guys who are super talented and just fantastic to be with. This has been evident over the last couple of weeks as they put in long hours and late nights to get Ani to a stage where we had a working demo to show off to everyone at Future Assembly, and the crowd loved it! Follow black on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date.

Getting lots of traction with Ani
Getting lots of traction with Ani

Enough about that and one more awesome thing I wanted to touch on. If you were at the expo you would have noticed the unique, intricate and artistic booths. They were designed by Fold Theory, an architectural company with a passion for sustainable, temporary, recyclable and beautiful installation designs. They have simple models that worked really well for the space. I wish I had taken more photos of them, but if you are ever in the market for something really cool for an event, check these guys out.

Designed by Fold Theory. Photo courtsey of Keaton Okkonen
Designed by Fold Theory. Photo courtsey of Keaton Okkonen

Well that’s a wrap for now. I’ll be at Startup Weekend in Melbourne so look out for more write ups coming your way.

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