Heeding the call to do.
Hackathons are less of a challenge and more of a beacon. They’re a clarion call to do better, do more, improve the lives of real people across the country and around the globe, using our overwhelming talent and laser-focused thinking.
Inspiring action, producing results
Far from the bleary-eyed all-nighters many hackathons endure, ours take teams on a multi-month journey of discovery, reflection, ideation, iteration and perfection. It’s a format that gives everyone space to bring their best thinking, encouraging us all to share expertise and ideas, fail fast and prove quickly, and unearth new ways to solve old problems. And by giving more teams more opportunities to participate, to dive into the technology and really understand it, our hackathons produce solutions that are often usable, and always inspiring.
I heard the word ‘hackathon’ and assumed I needed to be a coding whiz, but it was cool that anyone could participate and play different roles in the project.
An interesting thing happens when you let loose hundreds of builders on an enigmatic and poorly-understood technology like blockchain: things get built. This summer, we put out the call to teams Slalom-wide to help us grasp blockchain’s mysterious magic – without using cryptocurrency. With solutions ranging from airplane part authentication, prescription drug tracking, and property ownership verification, our builders really stepped up. In the end, a peer-to-peer energy sharing and distribution microgrid solution wowed the judges, and emerged victorious.
Hacking for social good
For over three months, nearly 300 Slalom employees partnered with 36 not-for-profit organizations to help further their missions – from helping people rise out of poverty, to improving literacy in Uganda. "This was a great opportunity to foster a connection between two organizations I love so much,” says Slalom Chicago’s Danny Scott. “It was one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever worked on."
Artificial intelligence hackathon
Over six months, 23 Slalom teams put their heads and hearts together to create solutions using AI. The winners: a drone that can recognize missing persons and a platform that scrapes classified ad sites for sex trafficking information.
Microsoft HoloLens hackathon
Slalom partnered with Microsoft to host our first-ever HoloLens hackathon championship. Six teams came together at Microsoft’s campus to present their innovative HoloLens creations in front of a panel of Microsoft judges, in hope of winning first place.
"Alexa, ask the team to hack the Amazon Echo"
Slalom teams worked to create new apps for the Amazon Echo. They developed skills that allowed people do things like ask Alexa to book a conference room or for advice on the age-old dilemma of what to get for lunch. “Now we know these things can be done,” says Slalom Boston’s Justin Lee, “so when developing software for clients, we can say, ‘With Echo, I was able to work around a limitation of being able to talk to something directly – and that might work here.'”
The whole idea behind our project was ‘How can AI make the world a better place?’ The most important thing we could think of was to save people from harm.