Small teams step up and hack New York City travel

New York City was the ultimate playground for 19 travel hacker teams last weekend.

And the Big Apple was at its inspirational, accessible and walkable best on two clear and crisp November days.

Offering four travel challenges with the city neighborhoods and activities at the core, Tnooz brought its first THack to New York.

Developers tackled challenges to create inspirational travel journeys, new approaches to selecting accommodations and multi-modal transportation (including walking). They also were asked to emphasize mobile applications, New York neighborhoods and local activities.

The winning projects are summarized below, but here are some highlighted ideas, applications, APIs and developer dynamics from the weekend:

* One team of three built a personal travel assistant using Amazon’s Alexa device that demoed the upcoming wedding plans of one team member. The project (Tnooz’s large team winner) used voice commands to search flights and lodging (driven by Sabre APIs) and delivered a tropical location for the wedding trip.

* A lone developer, who started the weekend on a team of three, finished as a solo hacker with one of the more creative projects called The Murals. Billed as a walking tour of NYC’s street art and showing Bronx community art as the use case, the Android app mapped specific must-see wall art. The project also included an augmented reality tool that encouraged personal photos with the art and allowed mobile phone users to “lift” the artwork and paste it into the photo.

* An ex-Google solo developer prototyped an Android app that used Fareportal’s airline API and IBM’s Bluemix hosting platform to build a group travel service called Discover2gether.

* Two-member team Oleilla built a breezy NYC mobile guide in iOS with Tinder-like swipes of stacked information cards of recommended activities.

* Judges had special praise for Where Should I Travel Next (Tnooz’s small team winner) and another single developer who build a travel inspiration application based on Instagram profiles and IBM’s Watson tools.

THack New York City

The weekend kicked off with 19 teams forming, but only 14 presenting. Five teams either drifted away overnight Saturday or couldn’t code a viable project to demo on Sunday. One team member commented:

“We saw the Chrome extension that team demoed and decided not to present … this was our first hackathon.”

THack New York City hackathon

Here’s the list of winning projects as selected by API sponsors and Tnooz’s independent panel of judges, Larry Smith, Thematix; Valyn Perini, Nor1; and Bill Beckler, All The Rooms:

Tnooz small team best project – Where Should I Travel Next, slick travel inspiration application with recommendations based on Instragram, Sabre theme search, IBM Watson and Google Maps. Prize: $1,500.

Tnooz large team best project – Alexa, in-home travel planner on Amazon Alexa personal assistant programmed to use Sabre APIs to search flight, hotels and destinations … in this case, for a tropical wedding by one of the team members. Prize: $1,500.

Tnooz People Choice (as voted on by developers) – (tie) Alexa and Hackahotel, a white-hat hack project to expose flaws on credit card protections on online booking engines. Prize: $750 each.

THack New York City hackathon

Fareportal best use of API: Discover2gether, a social travel planner that used Fareportal’s air API and IBM’s Bluemix cloud hosting to support its Native Android mobile application. Price Parser, a clever use of contextual “text hovering” to create inspirational bubble messages with travel details. (Two prizes: vouchers for free travel)

IBM Bluemix prize for best use of hosting/tech – Where Should I Travel Next and Groupaway, group accommodation finder based on group travel interests. Prizes (three): Apple Watches for each developer.

Priceline best use of hotel booking API – Dencity, a Chrome extension that inspired hotel choice based on neighborhood, points of interest, safety and other “coolness” factors, such as user-generated photos.

Sabre Dev Studio best use of APIs – Alexa, for voice search of air and destination information. (Prize: $1,000).

THack New York City hackathon

THack hackathon new york city

THack New York City

THack Hamburg October 2015, with ITA’s NDC APIs

THack China September 2015: Mobile’s the theme

THack São Paulo August 2015: Get social

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Gene Quinn

About the Writer :: Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a co-founder of Tnooz and was CEO from September 2009 to December 2016.

He is a pioneer in digital media and chairman of leading travel research company Phocuswright.

An editor, columnist and reporter in his first career at The Chicago Tribune and previously Philadelphia Daily News and Wilmington News-Journal, Gene has since been involved at the forefront of the new digital economy.

He has held advisory, executive and board positions at a string of media, technology and marketing companies and organizations, including Newtrade Technologies, Checkfree, MTV Networks, BzzAgent, the MIT Media Lab and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, the birthplace of the Mosaic web browser.



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