Last weekend the top of programmers from Switzerland and around the world has been in Zurich for the 3rd "application development" - HACKATHON. http://hackzurich.com/
Potent supporter has been in the back of the participants from the education and the economy. The IT companies like Google, IBM, Microsoft, etc ... were rather decent active in the background and none of the big 5 has been really dominant.
Well, maybe Google, but that is more related by the participants who love obviously Google somehow: Hipsters and some geeks. If somebody is watching out for nerds he’s completely wrong. It is an event where there are bright lights, and a stage where you have to do a presentation. The proportion of women, at least for the presentations was surprisingly high and show that this isn't an exclusively male domain.
It is primarily not about technical profundities, more about ideas and networking. That's a good thing, the event would be otherwise lost in the details.
The presentations of the 25 finalists wasn’t to formal. Even the IT cracks and the professional event technicians has been struggling with the connection of the PC to the projector.
The highlights I remember well:
Sentiment Mail (KPMG)
Using textual analysis of the current e-mail traffic and sophisticated filter. An application can exploring the mood of employees. That sounds somehow unspectacular at first glance, but the applications can be applied very creative in other fields.
Safe Home (SwissRe)
A web application by home sensors (typically, an alarm system), is collecting data for anomalies. It could be determined heist or anoter incident in real time. Insurance companies are very interested in such systems.
Health care chat robot (Eurapco)
Chatbots made for Healthcare are not new, even a chat frontend on a smartphone.
But in between it’s a gap, it is difficult to interpret and understanding the correct question. The approach was, to write a middleware for any language and any syntax. This is where the development team has hooked up and built an API, that can translate any language and semantics in a qualified medical request. Of course, not perfect, but I found the challenge very interessting.
Here we're coming to an actual trend of the event. Many ideas are based on language independence. The frontend should be able to work with any language. The processing of data happens in the background, independent from the language of the voice. And, yes - cognitive of course! (The new buzzword) The demos with different speech recognition applications, showed however that the technique is obviously further away than the protagonists would like. - Too much misunderstanding.
Unfortunately many ideas revolved around a more or less of ideas around mobile apps.
First place went to an American team that medium voice control can produce web pages. The show was good and the idea sounds interesting. From my perspectives, the 1.st place wasn't really awesome. I saw a lot of better ideas and technical solutions. It was for sure an event at the front of the current Information technology and the time.