Connected World Conference hackathon - first recap

Blog Post created by MvanderVeeken Employee on Jun 22, 2012

OSIsoft vCampus had the opportunity to host a hackathon during the Connected World Conference in St. Charles, Ill (near Chicago). To quickly explain the setup: there were three companies providing a hackathon track: OSIsoft, Exosite and ILS Technology. Contestants had 36 hours to compete in the challenge, and come up with an awesome new application build using the tools provided. They were competing for nice prizes (1st: $3000, 2nd: $1500, 3rd: iPad)


I arrived in Chicago on Saturday, and had a day to stay awake and fight the jetlag. I took a cab to the Pheasant run resort, and was amazed by the country side we passed. Big buildings in the middle of nowhere, a huge drive in cinema and a lot of parking spaces everywhere! Mind you, I'm from the Netherlands, and we usually have to fight to get a parking space near the 'big' cities. The resort itself was pretty awesome, and the weather was really nice (about 30 deg. Celcius, 86 deg Fahrenheit, 303 deg Kelvin). After taking the Sunday to do some final preperations, we had the hackathon kickoff at the 'Hackathon Pavilion'.


We prepared an infrastructure, with a PI System deployed 'in the cloud' using Skytap. Participants received an USB drive with PI Client software, Data Access Products, manuals and documentation and off course code samples.




The participants were OSIsoft customers, partners, OSIsoft employees (mainly TechSupport and Field Service) and two students from Northwestern University. Soon, teams  formed, and after having our introduction and some pizza, we headed of to our room to start our 36 hour hackathon.




You could feel the energy of programmers working on something creative immediately after we started.  The degree of experience of each participant was highly variable, from years of experience to ’What is the PI System?’ The first evening was taken to get people up to speed on the PI System and the different PI Data Access tools. Our primary focus for this hackathon was using PI Web Services and AF SDK 2012 (CTP) technologies. People unfamiliar with PI AF SDK 2012 were pretty excited about the new capabilities.


During the night, a lot of people were still working late. At about 3 am Stuart decided to go to Wallmart to get some extra refreshments and a waffle iron. This lead to some hilarity because I wouldn't believe Wallmart was open 24 hours a day (we don't have that here). So, after Stuarts return he started making waffles, and soon the whole room started to smell like a small bakery.




At about 4 am I went to bed, but a lot of people stayed up late. The two students from Northwestern didn't sleep at all. When I came back the same morning - after my morning swim - they were still at it! Later that morning, Dr. Kennedy (the founder of OSIsoft) presented a talk about Lit San Leandro that a couple of people went to. It was a very interesting talk about the effort to put in a fiber optics ring in the city to attract new business in a former industry town. Dr. Kennedy later came and visited us at our room to get to know the people and inquire about the different projects. 




During the rest of the day people were working hard to finish their projects. Stuart made some improvised home-made guacamole that night, and people enjoyed it while programming like crazy.




I went to bed a little early (about 1 am) to get some sleep for the following day. Wednesday was to be our closing session, we had a 4 hour session from 8 am - 12 am where people could finish their projects with the maximum assistance from OSIsoft people. After people finished the last hurdles, they were asked to present their project with their team. After careful deliberation a panel of judges awarded the prices. The judges were comprised of OSIsoft people, industry experts and people from Connected World. Let's have a look at the different teams and the projects they made!


1st Prize - Team Soap (Northwestern University)




Team Soap consisted of two students from Northwestern University. They named their team after the fact that they didn't sleep (or shower) for 2 days, and they had a big challenge connecting a SOAP web service to their Django (Python) environment. Their project consisted of connecting an Arduino to the PI System using a C# application, to feed information from the device into the PI System. From their they used Django (Python) to get data out of the PI System using PI Web Services to create a very slick HTML5 interface. They made it easy to connect different Arduino devices to the PI System and visualize the information in a dashboard. Before the hackathon started, they had never worked with the PI System. It was very impressive to see how much they have learned in that short amount of time. They won first prize with this project, and took home $3000!


2nd Prize - Team '3 guys, a gal and a PI System' (RoviSys)




RoviSys is a partner of OSIsoft, and they had 4 people at the hackathon! Their goal was to create a Event Frame generator using PI Notifications. They also created an HTML5 front-end that could display the Event Frames in a Gantt chart. I personally found this project particularly interesting. They found a great way to generate Event Frames. From a user perspective this is very interesting, because it requires no coding, only configuration of the Notification triggers. This is a great way of generating event frames, until we have the Event Frame Generator, or Configured Analytics to generate those event frames. The HTML5 interface was very responsive and quick. It displayed all the information related to the Event Frames in a clear way. With this outstanding project they won 2nd prize, and took home $1500!


Team Exele (James)




Team Exele (from Exele Information Systems) are also a partner of OSIsoft, and we had the pleasure of having James with us. James had an utmost creative idea! His project was to store Twitter messages in the PI System using Event Frames. He created a very nice and clean HTML interface, that allows users to submit a query. This query was then stored into an AF Element. A separate service than monitored the queries, and stored all Twitter messages related to that query in the PI System. This would allow you to store Twitter messages related to a particular subject for long periods of time (far beyond the history limit of Twitter). I would say this is especially nice for marketing, demographics and research. He also created a nice and clean interface to display the results, and pinpoint a message location on a map using Google maps. Team Exele won 3rd prize with this, taking home a brand new iPad!


We also had teams from OSIsoft participating. One particular team decided to participate in the Exosite track, by creating an interface between Exosite's OnePlatform and the PI System. They won 1st prize at the Exosite track with this. Very impressive, we will certainly follow up on this with the Exosite team!




Another team from OSIsoft created a prototype of a manual logging application with geolocation in HTML5. The application would use Google Maps to locate the assets closest to you, display them on the map, and give the user the opportunity to manually enter data. A great accomplishment, and I could certainly imagine a future for such a product! It was demonstrated on a laptop, an iPad and Android phones.




And, off course a picture of the whole group afterwards!




Looking back to the event, I found it a huge success. A lot of great initiatives were being developed. The energy and atmosphere during the hackathon were awesome. Thanks to everyone who helped out and participated! I really hope we get to do this more often. I can imagine something like this being done before or during vCampus Live! 2013 can be really interesting. What do you think? Please leave a comment below!


We have more material coming up, including videos and interviews with the participants. These need some processing, but we will be sure to post them as soon as possible!