Our team won the IBM Bluemix India Hackathon!

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14 Mar by Think201

We came to know that IBM was conducting a hackathon to get developers acquainted with BlueMix, their shiny new platform-as-a-service offering launched a month ago. Yourstory was hosting the event at their office. We decided to board the train and see where it leads…

The Idea

We were at a team dinner at Wangs, munching on momos and engaging in general chatter about work. We couldn’t help but notice that almost every table in the restaurant was occupied by couples, and they were glued to their smartphones.

Not only were they missing out on what was happening around them, but also completely ignored the person sitting across the table. The consensus at the time was an app to lock the other person out of apps that distract during “together time” would be a great idea.

The Idea for Heartlocker was born.

The Plan

The plan was rather simple. Show up at the YourStory office, try to build the app to any level of completion, and enjoy the ambiance and food 🙂 Try to learn new things – using and deploying to a new PaaS platform, iterative native app development, etc.

The App

Without going into too much detail, we built an Android native app. It runs a service that monitors the apps in the foreground, and if the launched app is on the block list, displays a lock screen. Some features:

  • List all installed apps
  • Select apps to be blacklisted
  • Pair a phone
  • Lock out the paired phone

The catch is that the locking works only when the phones are in the same vicinity. We used geolocation to make sure that the paired phone cannot be locked when the other person is elsewhere.

Node.js, Socket.io, and Express formed the backend.

The Pitch

Heartlocker helps couples spend more time together

The Judges included techies and sales folks from IBM, the head of mobile development from IBM APac region, an institutional VC, and a couple of startup founders.

The pitch focused on how smartphones have changed the way we perceive our surroundings and how Heartlocker could save the day for power couples who receive tons of notifications. The other use cases were of course about “grounded time” for kids, enforcing phone etiquette in classrooms, etc.

After a few questions about the APIs used and some Bluemix-related stuff, we got a great response from the audience.

The Aftermath

We won. We finished on top and there was laughter all around. Turns out folks from NDTV wanted to interview us as well. All’s well that ends. We celebrated by having a blast at a rooftop restaurant.

Some observations:

  • Arrive with a clear idea of what you want to build. Plan.
  • Hackathons provide real-time product feedback from potential users. Listen.
  • Use a good deployment process, and build fast. Push Code. Often.
  • Good teams make good apps. Execute.
  • It all comes down to convincing people. Pitch.
  • Finally, enjoy the atmosphere and build. Have funs. Lots.

A quick demo of the app is below.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ozas6my3-is?rel=0
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