Hello Bot! The Hackathon

A little Telegram’s bots cookbook
22 October 2017
Un pomeriggio con PwC
8 March 2018

Twenty-four hours to create the best chatbot, eleven teams, five members for each team, a lot of great ideas. We can resume our last event with these numbers. Hello Bot! The Hackathon was the third and also the last event of our series of events about chatbots. It took place on the 11th and 12th of November at “Rinascimenti Sociali”, a coworking space in Turin. The main idea behind the hackathon was to put into practice all the notions learnt during the first two events (Hello Bot! and Hello Bot! 2). There were no particular constraints for the teams, we gave them a Raspberry Pi, a bunch of sensors and the possibility to develop their bot as they wanted. They could develop a chatbot for Telegram or Facebook Messenger, a mobile or web app, even an Alexa based home assistant (using Amazon’s API and the Raspberry Pi). We asked them only a one, tiny, little thing: their product should be stick with the theme of the day, “University life in Turin”.

Saturday’s morning started with the presentations of our chapter and of our sponsors. In particular, our main sponsor for the event was Kiwifarm, a company specialized in the development of IoT solutions. The morning continued with the composition of all the teams and with the start of the competition. The role of our chapter’s members was to support the teams as mentors, helping them through the realization of their idea, with all the issues connected to it (code and electronics’ problems, how much their idea was pertinent to the theme, ecc..). Food and beverages were provided to all the participants, who continued to develop their ideas for all the 24 hours, coffee, after coffee, until Sunday morning. There were ideas of all kinds, embracing all aspects of student’s life: chatbots to find the best events in the Turin’s area, to organize study group, to find nearest and cheapest market, ecc…

At the the end of the hackathon, each team had the possibility to introduce its product to the other participants and to the jury. This last one was formed by our chapter’s board and by our main sponsor, which provides one of the prizes. The team who won the sponsor’s prize, 400 euros in e-learning, developed an idea similar to “Stack Overflow”, but for the chatbot’s world: you can use their Telegram’s bot to ask a question or to respond to another user’s question,  being rewarded with respect to the quality of the answer. The team who won our chapter’s main prize, instead, developed a chatbot able to help you to deal with crowded places. In particular they used a proximity sensor connected with a Raspberry Pi to detect how many people enter and exit from a certain place (study room, university’s canteen, ecc…), in this way they can communicate to the user if there is any seat available and which are the best hours to visit that place.

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