At the Daimler Hackathon, held as part of the me Convention, 65 young developers got to demonstrate their skills in Frankfurt. For 24 hours, they tinkered and finetuned digital solutions for the future of mobility. Backed by the DigitalLife@Daimler initiative, which launched this Global Hackathon Series last year, the event aims to infuse corporate culture with more pioneering spirit while giving up-and-coming talents the chance to shape the future of tomorrow’s mobility.

Gallons of coffee, countless lines of code, and 65 young developers in green hoodies looking slightly worse for wear after a solid 24-hour hackathon spent developing and honing new ideas. Yet when they presented their results to the assembled audience and renowned digital experts, their determination was palpable. After all, the event’s top prize was well worth the effort: a ticket to the Web Summit. At the world’s largest tech event, this year held in Lisbon (6-9 November), participants get to rub shoulders with some of the industry’s most prestigious minds.

Hackathon participants working on their prototypes
The developers’ determination is palpable.

Last year, the hackathon joined the permanent event roster of DigitalLife@Daimler, an initiative dedicated to promoting digitalization within Daimler.

How do you infuse an established corporate culture and structure with the necessary breath of fresh air? Daimler’s solution focuses on furthering exchange with people outside the company – young digital natives with an entrepreneurial streak and a willingness to face risks.

famous tech speakers on the stage at IAA Hackathon at me convention
The hackathon series was launched by the DigitalLife@Daimler iniative last year.

From idea to pitch

This year‘s Hack.IAA at the me Convention (15/16 September 2017) was all about connectivity: smart gave the teams the chance to experiment with new technologies like the brand’s own Connectivity Box, a digital transmitter already used by smart services like smart “ready to drop“ or carsharing champion car2go.

Equipped with laptop, Raspberry Pi (an efficient barebones processor), 3-D printer pens, and copious amounts of caffeine, the participants took over the IAA-based Mobility Lounge to tackle the sweeping challenge. The hardest step? Finding the right idea to start with. “We actually spent most of our time developing ideas, discarding them, and coming up with something new,” one of the participants revealed.

Yet the results were well worth the wait. A team from Berlin managed to unlock the smart via face recognition. Their clever “Air Key” came third in the overall ranking.

In second place, the MCI+Simon team developed a chatbot for more user-friendly vehicle configuration: Their virtual assistant guides the user through an intuitive and entirely individual customization process.

The overall winners – and lucky ticket recipients for the Web Summit tech event held in Lisbon – were the HD Vision Deep team. Their exceptional prototype can sense its urban surroundings and use this information to, for example, display available parking spots.

the winner team of the Hackathon with their prize
The overall winners “HD Vision Deep” received tickets for the Web Summit tech event held in Lisbon.

A win-win situation

Daimler specialists from marketing, development, information technology, and strategy were on site to support the teams as mentors. Some of the young tinkerers clearly appreciated the direct line to the automotive industry. At the event, they could find out more about key areas within the Daimler Group, gain valuable information on entry and career opportunities – and maybe even meet just the right contact. A clear win-win situation for all involved.

The hackathon season’s final event is scheduled to take place in 2018 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. And there’s more to come – look out for further exciting hackathon-related events.

For more information on Hack.IAA and other hackathons, visit this website.