Inspiring blend of talent, teamwork and innovation at #hackDUB

April 21, 2016

The future of airport and passenger innovation looks extremly bright judging by the ingenuity and skill displayed by the enthusiastic challengers at #hackDUB last weekend, who delivered an array of exciting new concepts and prototypes to improve passenger experience and airfield capacity for Dublin Airport.

Bringing a fresh perceptive to the aviation industry, the contenders ranged from students, seasoned hardware and software engineers, and even a twelve year old budding inventor, to a clinical audiologist and an architecture student studying the effect of architecture on people with disabilities and autism.

Winners of the SITA prize,Team 'GateMate' with
Mary Rose Everan,
Patrick Sherry, SITA Product Manager, BagJourney API (center) and Garry Kelly, Lead Engineer, SITA Lab, (right) with a developer

Hosted by DAA (Dublin Airport Authority) in association with DCU's (Dublin City University) Alpha Innovation Center,
RTÉ (Ireland's National Public Service Broadcaster), and Frontline Ventures, the three-day hackathon event proved a huge success, with twelve ideas being nominated to go forward for the winning prize of €7,000, and runner up prize of €3,000.

The challenge to provide an intuitive, enjoyable and memorable experience for passengers as they journey through Dublin Airport inspired ideas to assist all passenger types, including people with mobility problems, parents with children, and passengers with hearing loss and other disabilities.

Two innovative ideas using LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) technology for debris detection and runway inspection impressed the judges as solutions for optimizing capacity on the airfield to facilitate growth and improve aircraft turnaround time.

The overall winner of the event was the 'Air Ally' team that developed an airport specific internet app which was immediately available on wifi contact at the airport, with no download necessary, which provided flight information (using the FlightInfo API), social media, entertainment, and retail experience.

The second prize went to team 'Runway Wall-E', who developed a working prototype of a mobile robotic device which used LIDAR imaging and other sensors and detectors for measuring weather, visibility and other critical factors for ensuring safer runway operations.

Our SITA team awarded a prize for best use of the APIs. It was a tough decision for us with so many brilliant ideas using our FlightInfo, WaitTime and BoardingPass APIs. The winners developed a simple 'virtual companion' device called 'GateMate' that can be picked up at the airport and clipped onto luggage or a backpack. The device provides location contextual information and step by step instructions at every stage of the airport journey, to guide passengers with special needs or autism, or anyone who might need extra support.

Other concepts included a social app for connecting fellow travelers with common interests, a smart mirror for surveying restroom users, an incentivization app for optimizing airport facilities and passenger flow, and a 'Buddy Band' for tracking missing children. One interesting startup is developing smart ear phone devices that can filter out background noise while enabling relevant communication to be heard. Led by a clinical audiologist, with a team of hardware and software engineers, their POC for the event was to allow passengers to receive relevant, location contextual, flight notifications and information aurally via a smartphone while going through a noisy airport ... using APIs, of course!

For some interesting feedback and commentary on the #hackDUB results, check out Mark Lenehan's blog