Innovative ideas emerge from North East 'hackathon'

Computer coders come together to solve problems real and imaginary

Racing cars fuelled by financial data and a fun game playing on the nuisance of Metro delays were among the innovative ideas to emerge from the North East’s largest-ever hackathon.

HackNE, which was co-hosted by Newcastle’s Bede Gaming and Major League Hacking, attracted 150 technological minds to the Great North Museum for 24 hours of coding and creativity.

Developers formed teams to tackle problem solving projects set by sponsors, as well as their own ideas.

Bede Gaming awarded a prize to a team made up of Newcastle University students Jannetta Steyn, Benjamin Kidd, Dale Whinham and Ben Lambert, for their innovation.

The team developed a means of displaying real-time data from Bede Gaming’s online games and financial data from Bloomberg, via an LED unit.

Online payments firm PayPal: Braintree, meanwhile, handed its award to the Metro Apologises project. Its creators built a platform that allows Tyne and Wear Metro passengers to have fun while venting their frustrations over delays. Users invent irreverent reasons for late-running trains and receive animated ‘rewards’ for their efforts.

The MLH award was handed to the team behind a racing game that used data from Bede Gaming and Bloomberg to generate different cars and terrains.

Bede Gaming managing director Dan Smyth said: “The great thing about hackathons is you never know which direction a project might go from an initial idea.

“We saw some fantastic innovations and it’s great to see there are so many people as passionate about creative coding as we are.”

HackNE was supported by Newcastle University, whose Computer Science student Andon Andonov was instrumental in securing the event. The university provided the venue and supported its organisation.

Other sponsors were Bloomberg, PayPal: Braintree, SendGrid, Capital One and namecheap.

Hackathons, also known as hackdays, codefests or hackfests, are a global phenomenon which began in the US in the mid to late 2000s.

MLH has pioneered competitive hackathons across America and its Newcastle event, delivered in partnership with Bede Gaming, formed part of its first UK season.

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