Geek

Seeking Innovation, The JomHack Series Strives To Convert M'sian Consumers To Inventors

A hackathon (also known as a codefest) is essentially a social coding event where computer programmers and hardware developers come together to collaborate on building a new software project surrounding a particular theme.

So if you’re familiar with the local hackathon scene, you’ve probably heard about the JomHack series before.

One of the themes that JomHack works with is IoT. IoT (The Internet of Things) is all about removing the human element from device or technological communications. Objects such as sensors, vehicles, machines and almost any device you can think of are able to interact with each other via cloud computing and networks.

Participants of JomHack are required to build IoT solutions based on LoRa Technology to help with city management related problems, and also to make existing operations more efficient.

The LoRa technology allows for devices to talk to the internet without 3G or WiFi. It also features low battery usage, long range and low bandwidth, thus making it perfect for IoT solutions and fits the “Smart City” theme that participants will be working towards.

JomHack’s main IoT ecosystem partner, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) is a big player in the development of the IoT industry in Malaysia and has been actively involved in the local hackathon scene as well.

Currently, MDEC is working with various partners to roll out LoRa technology nationwide.

Hacking To Success

Image Credit: JomHack
Image Credit: JomHack

The first hackathon JomHack had organised was in collaboration with MDEC, Cyberview, and The Things Network back in August 2016. Participants were given LoRa technology to help think of innovative solutions to improve Cyberjaya as a smart city.

It met with great success as all 30 team slots were filled up by the 90 participants and the ideas presented during the Demo Day were full of innovation.

The grand prize was awarded to a team who came up with a Water Leakage Detection System for the issue of RM1.3bil worth of treated water going down the drain every year in Malaysia.

The next event in September called “iflix_Hack” was in partnership with iFlix Malaysia and was organised for participants to come up with cool features to be implemented into the iFlix app. The 15 slots allocated for the teams were taken up quickly with great responses from the community.

With this being the third entry into the series focusing on the theme of “Smart Cities” and LoRaWAN technology, the JomHack committee aims to make it even better and improved. and you may have heard that they’ll be returning with a new event very soon.

And this time, they’re back with a brand new location.

The Next Stop

Now with two events in the Klang Valley area under their belt, JomHack Malaysia has decided to bring the series up north to discover new talents all over Malaysia.

This 18th to 20th November, JomHack will be in Penang with its theme of “Smart Cities with IoT” in conjunction with MyIoTC Week 2016. It’ll be held at @CAT (Accelerator for Creative, Analytic and Technology) in Georgetown, Penang.

Once more, they’ll be collaborating with MDEC with other partners including MyIoTC, Cytron, Kerlink, Microchip and more.

Image Credit: JomHack
Image Credit: JomHack

“JomHack Penang is all about Smart Cities and LoRa. LoRa technology is designed to make it super easy for implementations of IoT solutions, so creating awareness on this technology will hopefully help accelerate the IoT scene,” said Inbaraj.

Participants will be given 24-hours to build IoT solutions based on LoRa technology to help solve city management related problems, as well as make existing operations more efficient.

So not only will participants gain valuable experience, a total of prizes worth RM20,000 are up for grabs along with the opportunity to work with these organisations to further develop their solutions and implementing them on a larger scale.

(Hint: There may even be additional funding from these organisations too!)

Cytron will be providing the hardware to build the IoT devices, Microchip will be supplying the LoRa nodes and Kerlink will be settting up the LoRa gateway.

JomHack has planned for this event to be exclusive for only 40 teams with 3 members per team. Professionals are charged a standard entry fee of RM25 per person while students get a little bit of a discount with RM15 per person.

Through this hackathon, the prominent solutions can then be implemented by the Penang city council and other relevant bodies while creating awareness on LoRa technology among Malaysians.

Behind The Hackathons

After having run two successful hackathons in Klang Valley, Creative Director of Pixaworks Creative Sdn. Bhd Inbaraj Suppiah talked about his inspiration to continue organizing more.

“I’ve always seen hackathons as an encouragement for people to do things, instead of just talking about ideas and creating presentation decks. Once you’ve built your product and it works, those will come easily. We hope to see more startups being launched based on prototypes built during our events. That’ll be a great success story for us,” said Inbaraj.

JomHack Malaysia was a new initiative started by Pixaworks Creative Sdn. Bhd to make hackathons cool. It strives to be one of many platforms In Malaysia that aims to help young people start their interest in the startup scene.

He shared that the main purpose of running hackathons is innovation.

“It’s always amazing to see people hacking new ideas or improving existing ones. I’m excited that JomHack is quickly becoming a great platform for young techies to come and test their skills, build their ideas and hopefully kickstart new ventures,” said Inbaraj.

The ability of hackathons to convert everyday consumers into inventors by giving them the resources and opportunity to bring an idea to life is truly exciting.

Image Credit: JomHack
Image Credit: JomHack

When asked why Penang was chosen as their next location, Inbaraj shared, “The plan was always there to take JomHack nationwide after we saw the success of our first event. Penang also has a very active tech community now. When our main ecosystem partner MDEC, and Malaysia IoT Consortium initiated the MyIoTC Week in Penang, we were immediately onboard.”

He said the most challenging part about managing hackathons is the Demo Day itself.

“On the Demo Day, it’s hard to expect what’s coming, or if anything good will come out of an event at all. But so far, both of our Hackathons have seen great projects being displayed on Demo Day, better than what I personally expected,” remarked Inbaraj.

In terms of future plans for JomHack, Inbaraj mentioned how for the immediate future, there would be another hackathon event coming up in December.

“For 2017, we’re hoping to do more events around the country to bring this platform to more young people nationwide. We’re excited to reach out to more young Malaysians outside of Klang Valley who may not have that many opportunities to create something for themselves,” said Inbaraj.

JomHack: Smart Cities with LoRa will run from the 18th to 20th of November 2016 in Georgetown, Penang.

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