Microsoft Uni Hackathon 2016: Hack@Home in Dresden

The kind people from Microsoft in cooperation with ThyssenKrupp Elevators decided to host a hackathon at TU Dresden. From 21.10.2016, 16:30 p.m. till 12:00 p.m. of the next day, students and others talked, laughed, coded and worked on the task of combining elevator data with IoT technology to improve predictive elevator maintenance. Fortunately for my team, we did win the challenge!  Our team, named qed∎ consisted of Daniel Linke, Dirk Legler and myself. All winning teams from every Hack@Home event and details about the projects (in German) can be found here.

About our idea

ThyssenKrupp already uses data like elevator cable runtime to predict maintenance needs. So we thought we could try to find something new. Instead of using the core functional data, we focused on any data that could be obtained from inside and outside the elevator to improve both customer experience and maintenance handling. To give an example: Measuring air quality for instance could lead to a new ventilation strategy. If the CO2 level in the elevator is too high, it could just take a trip to a floor with better air quality and ventilate for a bit.  For our demonstration, we collected temperature and humidity data, brightness and loudness with a Raspberry Pi 2 and sent them into the Azure cloud. Events like a sudden increase in humidity inside the elevator that indicate a spill would than be detected and sent via push notification to the smartphone app of the maintenance staff.

The stack

The project contained of three parts, displayed on the right hand side of the page (unless you are on a small device): The measuring device (a Raspberry Pi 2 with GrovePi sensors running Windows 10 IoT), the cloud data handling (IoT Hub, Database,…) and a smartphone app for the maintenance staff (Xamarin based). Because nobody in our team had worked with Azure or Windows 10 IoT before, we were pretty proud that we achieved our goal with a technology stack that only contained said Microsoft products (except the Android phone of course). I should note that neither of us got any sleep until the hackathon was over. Of course the same prototype could be built (far quicker) with other (more simple) tech, but since that was a Microsoft event, we thought we try to roll with them as much as possible (hence the team name). Luckily the judges seemed to like that as well.

Lessons learned:

  • If you don’t like the topic that much, find something fun. Our original point of start was a puke detector 😉
  • Sleep is overrated.
  • Stay on topic, if you have been given one. Try to use their tech if possible!
  • Big ideas are nice, but you really need a (fun) demo that you can pull off in the given time. If you have nothing to show other than a PowerPoint presentation, that might not do it
  • The Microsoft store is a bit weird
  • To us, the Azure cloud did not appear that user-friendly. More tutorials and some kind of data flow graph visualization in the dashboard would be nice. Also: The Microsoft Cloud Germany is an intriguing legal concept, but it seemed that it could not support our basic use case at that point


My gift certificate and loot

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