Hightrack users’ productivity is in good hands. Our technical team won the Join Telefonica Hackathon last September 30th with a project called Read & Play, an app that employs augmented reality and virtual reality to help children unable to attend class. Some of the features of this awarded app might be introduced in the Hightrack’s productive ecosystem.
Hightrack’s technical team won Telefonica’s Join Hackathon last September 30th with Read & Play, an app that uses augmented reality and virtual reality to help children unable to attend class. This is just one of the possible applications of this app, as Hightrack programmers are already looking for ways to introduce Read & Play’s new features in their productivity software.
As Enrique Mendoza, CTO of Hightrack and oldest member of the team explains, the application awarded with the first prize “recognizes the images in the kid’s books and plays videos instead of them, so that students can learn better each lesson, almost as if the teacher was talking to them”.
Specifically, as Raúl Bejarano says, “It is a double application for mobile and Google Cardboard that uses image recognition to embed videos (it should work with any type of multimedia) in the illustrations of books, pictures, pictures, etc “. As regards functionally, Read & Play implies: “capturing live images from the camera, plus pattern analysis, plus video overlay”, explains Alberto Sanz (Pelocho) with his distinctive conciseness.
Enrique, Alberto-Pelocho and Raúl totalize 20 participations in hackathons, but the one having the upper hand is the former, with 12 technology marathons compared to 4 for Pelocho and Raúl. Nor is it the first time they win a competition like this.
Besides the desire to meet a challenge, they regard hackathons as a chance to meet people from the IT field, to gain experience as well as visibility for their projects. And finally, in hackathons you can get funding for your projects if you win a prize.
Enrique Gonzalo, Hightrack CEO, who has a long career as a consultant productivity and Human Resource Management, considers allowing time for his team to take part in training activities and experiences a key element to keep his team motivated and up-to-date. So the news of the award received by your IT department (Fernando Conde and Angel Sans couldn’t take part this time) made him twice as pleased.
Read & Play basically brings books to life. They named their app after Plug & Play technology, as when you point your phone to an image on the book, the picture ‘comes to life’.
The idea for Read & Play came up on the go, when time for preparation ran short because of the maelstrom of work with the Hightrack app and university (in the case of Raul), Enrique explains, “Pelocho and I spent a good time thinking (we are usually good at thinking, although sometimes we get a little dizzy),” he says, laughing. “Finally, the three of us started entering code wildly and everything was on time. I think there was even a tiny time left to get an hour sleep, at least I did so…” he laughs again.
Managing successfully a three people team to carry out a project in a hackathon requires team management skills and good productivity habits, two of the main interest focus at Hightrack. So the question of how they got organized for the hackathon is a must. “If we went all professional’ says Enrique Mendoza “I’d say we chose a project leader to plan every action, divide the workload, etc. But if we have done so, we would have lost the game approach you need in a hackathon. So instead we took on each task as they arose. You have to think of a hackathon from a firefighter’s team perspective: you have an app that is burning and you’ve got to save it! So if we have to climb the building to put out a fire with a hose, the first one available should do it! The goal is to make a working prototype of the idea that we’ve had, that is, to extinguish all the fires that have arisen in our “building” so we can play around with it :)“.
Asked whether the Programming side outweighed the Communication & Marketing or the other way around in the outcome of the hackathon, Hightrack IT team said that in such events is difficult for the jury to carefully evaluate the efforts made in terms of programming. On the other hand, Communication & Marketing skills together with a good presentation and a nice interface allow the jury to get an overall view of how the app works, as Raul and Pelocho explained.
Enrique builds on this idea of the Marketing & Programming balance: “In this type of competition presentation is the most important part! So I’d say you learn a lot more Communication & Marketing than anything else. The technical side of the app should gradually become more and more important, though. After all, a hackathon is a marathon for programmers. In athletics the winner is the one with the best skills as an athlete, so here, the winner should be the team with the best programming skills. Would anyone argue that the gold medal should go to the more handsome or the funniest runner? Thank goodness we meet the 3 conditions!,” he laughs.
CTO Hightrack and Read & Play developer believes that what gave them the competitive advantage over other projects was “Being able to make a complete application in a very short time, as well as being able to get across our project as something useful and attractive before jury members.”
After getting their €5000 check, in their way back to the office in downtown Madrid, Enrique, Pelocho and Raul were already thinking in ways to introduce some of the features of Read & Play in the future development of Hightrack’s productivity environment.