The Sixth Sense

May 9th crept up on us a bit — Internally at Team #hacksoton we always talk about how quick our events come around again but this one really came out of nowhere!

When we stop to think about it, it’s a bit crazy — We’ve done six of these now. Six! Armed with free food and drink, our attendees braved the morning rain to come and join us for a day of creativity and learning, and the results were spectacular. Our audience continues to prove to us just how brilliant #hacksoton can be.

I make no excuses for the fact that I enjoying walking the floor and finding out what everyone is up to, and this event was no exception — In fact, this just might be my favourite roster of projects ever to come out of one of our events.

First up, the children (and grown up kids!) who participated in our Young Rewired State/Coder Dojo session in celebration of World Scratch Day (Arranged by YRS Soton). Scratch is a visual programming language which makes it super fun for younger coders to get into. Our child army delivered in spades by not just creating entertaining and original projects themselves, but being brave enough to share them with the whole room.

Among them, we had a sound detector, two dance simulators, a rock-dodging 2D platformer prototype and a drawing canvas (Controlled by bananas, naturally). Huge thanks to Rebecca, Reuben, The Epic Dudes and Team Make Oscar Dance (Yes, they picked their own team names!) — You were all brilliant and I can’t wait to see what you all get up to in the future.

Perhaps inspired by this awesome display of creativity, the rest of our attendees responded in kind. Zac had an old Nokia screen wired up to an arduino to revive the ultimate phone game, Snake (Sorry, Angry Birds) and Brandon showed off a Spreadsheet Webcam — With a whopping 2 frames a minute refresh rate as the webcam was translated into greyscale squares in a Google Docs Spreadsheet. Nifty stuff.

Team Strava (Matt, Andy, Dave, Rachael) showed off Strava One Up, which they described as the “Top Trumps of Cycling data” for all those cyclists out there who relish competition with their mates, Milos and Bernardo had begun work on a very cool looking single player Scrabble experience dubbed First Word War and Tetiana gave us an interesting look at Rack with her presentation.

This time around we invited @sotoncreatives to set a challenge for any willing participants who perhaps wanted a little more guidance and a goal for the day — The challenge was “Put Southampton on the map”, and in response their willing volunteers (Elbrie, Trevor, Christopher) created Soton City Data (Link coming soon!) — A repository for open data sources in Southampton which is something I’m personally excited to see grow. The scope for civic hacks with this data made freely available is tremendous and it really could be the start of an open data movement in Hampshire, so long may it continue!

The Southampton Makerspace always bring the goods to our events, and this time was no exception. In addition to 3D Printing, Jem’s WordPress craft site, this infinity mirror(!?) and Benjie’s Node-RED powered home automation (Voice activation! Light sensors!), James (XRobots) brought along a 3D Printed, life sized R6 droid. It entertained the room by driving around and playing Star Wars snippets (Plus a little AC/DC for good measure), with James at the remote controls. Not content with how utterly badass this was, he spent the day working on some more moving parts and spinning lights to add to his creation. I want one.

If you came along, I want to thank you personally for making #hacksoton 6 such a tremendous success. One of these days I’ll get tired of praising you all, but not today. Of course, behind the scenes there’s a team of dedicated individuals who help make our events possible. This time around, make sure to send your thanks to Hinge, Central Hall (and their kitchen staff!), Etch, Moov2, Southampton Creatives, YRS Soton, Phil Dye, Tom Frame and Dan Thomas.

#hacksoton will return.

- Adam

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