Hack Cambridge 2016 has happened!

Hack Cambridge
Feb 11, 2016 · 8 min read

We can’t believe that the first ever Hack Cambridge hackathon has been successfully completed (barring some minor WiFi issues). Thank you to Thales e-Security and all our amazing sponsors, MLH and especially all the amazing hackers who attended. Here you can find a timeline of the events, as well as all of the awesome prize winners. As always, you can find our website at www.hackcambridge.com, follow us on Twitter and reach us on Facebook.

07:30am: The event started early on Saturday morning, as we scrambled to get some final bits and pieces in place while introducing sponsors to the venue and helping them set-up.

In just a couple of hours, this room will be packed, and then some.

08:00am: Hackers starting queuing well before the 9:00am opening, eager to get inside to their swag and introduce themselves to each other.

WiFi Status: Good

Our lovely volunteers, start separating and getting wristbands for everyone ready.

09:00am: The doors unlocked, everyone is eager to get inside. The first ever Hack Cambridge has officially opened.

WiFi Status: Good

11:00am: ahem. The opening presentation was meant to have started, but things might have been slightly behind schedule.

WiFi Status: Some people having issues, surely a blip right?

The hackathon hasn’t even started, and we are already one down!

11:35am: The opening presentation finally starts. With awesome talks being given by some of our awesome sponsors, including Cantab Capital Partners and Thales e-Security.

WiFi Status: No one seems to be able to connect.*takes a deep breath*

Thales kick-off the event with their keynote speech.
All six organisers are on stage for the opening presentation.

12:00pm: The opening presentation continues…

WiFi Status: No update, surely it will be working after the opening presentation right?

Some cheeky hackers have already got to work.

12:10pm: The hackathon begins! (so does lunch).

WiFi Status: Panic starts creeping in, a riot may break out if this continues.

The brainstorming is strong in this ones.

03:00pm: Turns out the WiFi has collapsed in on itself and it still isn’t working, however many hackers are making do and at this point we can’t thank them enough for their patience.

WiFi Status: It’s working in the UIS rooms where the workshops are taking place…

Someone has taken hacking to the next level, becoming one with a free Two-Sigma Bluetooth speaker.

06:00pm: It’s dinner time. After that most project will be entering the long, overnight crunching period.

WiFi Status: The on-site support, engineers from Two Sigma and even one brave hacker have spent the afternoon in the trenches, trying to track down the issues. Fixing one small thing at a time. There are minor improvements but most people still don’t have a connection. It is a battle for the history books.

We even had a couple of 3D printers which were put to good use.

07:30pm: Half the hackers end up having to move from the Corn Exchange to the University rooms we had booked-out as a back-up for the WiFi issues. Their understanding and graciousness helped immensely and this allowed everyone to have a good overnight experience.

WiFi Status: After load re-distribution, everyone can connect! Although, will it be ready for tomorrow? The WiFi warriors have made some changes which should hopefully help with that…

The University of Cambridge’s Titan rooms in the New Museums Site are packed out. WiFi, is back up.

Night: The hacking continues, only interrupted with a midnight pizza.

WiFi Status: Good!

What hacks are these people working on???

06:00am: Early mornings are usually the hardest part of hackathons, with most people having been up all night debugging, fixing and slipping further and further behind schedule on top of being incredibly tired. The end is still so far-away that the surge of Adrenalin has yet to kick in, however the sense of urgency does start to increase. Luckily there is always texty-bot to keep people awake and breakfast is at 07:00am.

WiFi Status: It’s seems to hold up in the Corn Exchange when people head there for breakfast… *fingers crossed for judging*…

So dedicated to his post, one of the organisers, Tudor, has decided he would rather nap than go back to college and rest.

10:00am: 2 hours left, Devpost instructions are announced, people crunch and start submitting their projects.

WiFi Status: Good.

The Adrenalin is at maximum capacity now.

11:55am: The end is in sight, so close that the seconds just keep ticking past.

WiFi Status: Bracing itself for the afternoon load!

Tom and Christian discussing the definitely not last-minute plans for what happens after 12:00pm.

12:00am: Hacking is complete! Submissions are no longer possible and everyone heads to a well-deserved lunch on the balcony while the crew are busy clearing the tables for the judging-fair.

Wifi Status: Still holding up, still holding up, still holding up…

Some sleeping deeply, some waiting patiently, some in conversation; all amazing hackers.

01:30pm: Everyone comes back down to set-up and present. The first-round judging has started and all the projects on display are awesome. It’s definitely a close competition.

WiFi Status: Still working! Everyone has limited their usage and it seems to be coping!!!

So many things on display… so little time.
A judge from Thales is checking out one of the many Virtual Reality projects.
Someone in this picture is wearing an awesome shirt.

03:15pm: The first-round judging closes, as the numbers come-in, everyone heads back to the balcony.

WiFi Status: The warriors are still on standby, but it’s holding up well-enough for judging so it seems like they won’t be needed! A couple issues here and there, but they get resolved one-by-one.

The points are tallied in very hushed tones.

03:30pm: The final round judges present themselves on stage, as the final-round teams start to come down to the stage.

WiFi Status: It seems to keep in there for the rest of the event. Phew!

Thank you so much to Professor Cicilia Mascolo, William Tunstall-Pedoe, Robert Whitehead, John Britton, Dr. Robert Mullins and Tim Fogarty for being our judges.

03:45pm: Magic IoT lead us off with the final round presentations, showing off how Kinect can be used to control the devices in your house. You can even view them all here and Magic IoT’s section starts at 5m50s.

We definitely learned “on the job” for this event, but despite our awkward introduction Magic IoT delivered confidently and showed an awesome Kinect-based project.
The judges watch the presentations intently, Tim scratches his chin.

03:50pm: Metabolise go next, showing you can easily track your fitness with care. Their section starts at 12m10s.

03:55pm: Unchained is up! Demonstrating how the technology powering bitcoin can enable free speech, everywhere. Starting at 18m25s.

04:00pm: docuflow are next at 25m, showing a document viewer that reads your mind. Looking at where your eyes focus and determining your concentration.

04:05pm: MyTro is up at 32m, showcasing how Myo can be used to interface with games.

04:10pm: Viral start their presentation at 37m, modelling how epidemics spread in modern society by using two different layers to both represent awareness of and actual spread of contagious diseases.

04:15pm: Smartjar hit the stage! Connecting a dumb kitchen weighing scale to track the food the person eats in combination with other software. Their presentation is at 42m41s.

04:20pm: Last but definitely not least, The Deadlock Empire round off the finalists! Showing off a game that teaches how complex multi-threaded code can deadlock at 47m35s.

04:25pm: All the awesome presentations are over! The judges head back-stage as the API and themed prizes are announced. They won’t be listed here as that’s spoilers for later.

Christian announcing all the prize winners, rounding off Hack Cambridge 2016.

05:00pm: That’s it. Hack Cambridge 2016 is finally complete, the first ever Hack Cambridge. We can’t thank everyone who took part enough, participants, sponsors and partners. It was a fantastic event and we are already looking to the future and 2017.

WiFi Status: We made it!!!!!!!


All the projects were brilliant, however these in particular impressed our sponsors and judges with the prizes won highlighted below.

Hack Cambridge 1st Prize

The Deadlock Empire impressed our judges greatly. Not only battling through the incredibly competitive first round, but also coming out on top when asked to present on stage in the finals! Creating an educational and exciting game, where players are presented with multi-threaded code which they then have to coax into a deadlock, The Deadlock Empire did a great job.

Hack Cambridge 2nd Prize

Smartjar were really inventive with their use of hardware. Taking a bog-standard kitchen weighing-scale, hacking into it and connecting it to the cloud. They created an application that tracks perishables with applications in automated delivery, fitness-tracking and cooking.

Hack Cambridge 3rd Prize

Metabolise, fitness tracking done right. Combining the functionality of apps that calculate calories in (eg. MyFitness Pal) and those going out (eg. Fit Bit). Using wearables to get up-to-date and dynamic data. This is definitely something to keep an eye out for.

Hack Cambridge People’s Choice Award


The Thales e-Security Challenge

Clear Pass

Best Hack in Gaming/Virtual Reality by Improbable

The Deadlock Empire

Best Hack in Hardware by ARM


Best use of HPE Haven OnDemand API

Saato: Elegant ML & Data Science for Industry

Best use of Mendeley API


Best use of Beaker API

Cluster Punk: A Little Exploratory Research

Best use of Nessie API


Best use of Amazon Web Services

Authorify: machine learning with dictators and T.Swift

Best use of Google Cloud Platform


Best domain name registered with Domain.com

MLH.sexy, nuff said.

Best use of OpenTSDB

GreenHouseGases Visualiser

Bloomberg’s Favorite Hack

The Deadlock Empire

Funniest Hack


Hackers at Cambridge

We are a student-run technology society, promoting a culture of creators and innovators by organising workshops and events for any student who wants to take part. This blog is a platform to spread the thoughts, opinions and projects of the tech-enthusiasts who write for it.

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