The Tech Zone at the 2017 AIB Build a Bank National Finals

Johanna Haughey sees what all the Micrisoft HoloLens fuss is about, in the Technology Zone at the 2017 AIB Build a Bank Finals

On the 25th April, we attended the 2017 AIB Build a Bank National Finals in the RDS, Dublin. Build a Bank is a second-level schools program and competition that AIB has ran for the last 15 years. Schools from all across Ireland (North & South) compete, creating themed banks in their own school. This year over 1000 students participated, from 199 schools.


The program helps teach the students invaluable skills — marketing, finance, communication and perhaps most importantly— teamwork.

This year’s winners were the incredible ‘The Butterfly Bank’ from Presentation Secondary School Tralee, Co. Kerry.

Presentation Secondary School, Tralee, 2017 Winners

We’ve been involved in the event for several years and this year we provided content for the “Tech Zone”, where invited speakers gave inspirational talks and invited companies & ourselves showcased innovative technology.

We had five separate tech demos for the students to try out in the zone:

Journey to a Different World — VR experience. Our friends in Samsung Ireland gave us Samsung Gear VRs and demos to showcase — and they were incredibly popular; the students (and their teachers!) loved them.

Watching the reactions of people trying out a decent VR experience for the first time is priceless — screams, laughs, shouts, we saw it all.

Always give the VR users seats, in case they fall over!

The Holographic Future — Microsoft HoloLens demo. Microsoft Ireland joined us for the day, where they showed of the amazing HoloLens — one of the first good “mixed” reality devices. Unlike VR, where you only see what is presented to you by the VR device, in mixed reality you still see your actual surroundings but you also see holograms that are projected around you.

A student trying out the HoloLens

It kind of has to be experienced to be understood, but attendees loved it. I loved the hologram of the solar system, where you could zoom in on individual planets for greater details — all holograms that only I could see when I was wearing the device.

Chat with a Bot — chatbot demo. A chatbot is a software program that responds to questions automatically, with no human intervention. They are a major trend in tech at the minute and something we’re quite interested in. For the event we built a small chatbot, about the event, for the students to try out.

The chatbot, deployed on Facebook Messenger, could answer questions like:

  • “Who is speaking in the Creative Zone?”
  • “What’s to eat here?”
  • “Is there wifi?”
  • “What’s a chatbot?”
  • “What schools are here from Kildare”

and the like. Of course, it got a whole lot of strange and wonderful questions from the students like:

  • “Will you shift my friend”
  • “What are the i and j axises in Applied Maths?”

and my personal favourite of the day:

  • Who is your creator, is it Darth Vader?”

It was great to show the guests an emerging technology that is likely to become more and more widespread. More on our work with chatbots here.

Touch the Data

One of our data scientists (and astrophysicist!) Eoin Murphy built a interactive data visualisation for a large touchscreen tv, of data about the event.

Eoin enthralling the crowd with Data!

Your Face is the Password — facial recognition demo. Dave Maxwell from the team showcased a facial recognition app that could identity you and guess your age, gender and mood!


The Technology Zone also hosted talks and a panel from some great speakers — Dermot Daly, founder of Tapadoo, Niall Richard Murphy from Google, Garret Flower, co-founder of Krust bakery and more recently, ParkPNP and myself from AIB Research & Innovation. It was MC’d by the always interesting Johnathon McCrea.

Johnathon, Garret, me, Dermot and Niall in a panel discussion

I gave a short talk about the future (or what I think the future will hold in store!) and the other speakers gave great insights into their work and their journeys which took them to where they are.

All in all, the event was fantastic, with very positive feedback received from the students and their schools. We loved being part of it and showcasing new and emerging technology, along with having a lot of fun. These two look like they were enjoying it too.

I’m not entirely sure what’s going on here!

Others also brought great content to the Tech Zone —

Robotify — showed off their awesome kits to help kids (or anyone!) build and programme robots. We’re definitely going to try them out ourselves! More info here.


and showcased their site for finding and comparing CAO courses. More info on them here.


360 Video footage

We also shot a whole lot of 360 video footage, using the great Gear 360 camera from Samsung, once it’s edited into a coherent video we’ll share that to give a real sense of what it’s like to be at the Build a Bank finals.

If you have any comments or thoughts just let us know below!

If you liked this, feel free to hit the little recommend heart below, and / or go all out crazy and share! Andy




Goings-on from AIB’s Research & Innovation team

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Andy O'Sullivan

Andy O'Sullivan

Creator of Boxapopa, the iOS game for young kids with zero ads, just fun!

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