Dislike ATM fees? Want to keep your children close at-hand?
New solutions to old problems won over judges and the audience at the 2014 AT&T Developer Summit Hackathon.
Saturday and Sunday, before International CES began, 111 teams worked for 27 hours to dream up and execute winning ideas in two categories, wearables and mobile apps.
M, an app that “turns those around you into ATMs,” and SafeNecklace, which tracks children on field trips, took first place in their respective categories, earning $25,000 each.
In a scenario where ATMs aren’t available or fees are too high, M app allows users to “borrow” cash from people nearby.
M locates people in close proximity who are willing to give cash in exchange for payment through the app, plus a couple of extra dollars.
Team presenter Cathy Han imagines the app would be useful in places such as concert settings, where ATMs might not be available.
To use the app, a borrower can post a request for $20, $40 or $60 — small enough to be safe, but significant enough to buy food or souvenirs, Han said.
The message would go to people closest to the borrower first. Once a cash lender accepts the request, a distance range would be shown to help parties find each other.
To thwart theft, the app does not show exact locations and only provides a range between users after an offer is accepted. Phone numbers could also be used to verify identity.
Han said her Toronto-based team looked for emerging trends in traditional industries. and set out to democratize banking in the same way Airbnb changed travel accommodations and Uber changed the way ride-sharing and cars for hire are sought.
“We thought about areas where we could bridge the online and offline worlds,” Han said.
On the wearables track, SafeNecklace is a “leashless” solution to tracking kids during outings.
Children wear lanyards with Bluetooth beacons, the bus is equipped with a beacon and teachers refer to a mobile app.
The app shows the location of each lanyard and notifies the teacher when the child is too far away. Names of children can be assigned to each necklace so teachers and chaperones know where each child is.
On the bus, a stationary alert box called SafeCheck also notifies the chaperone that a child has left the approved area.
“SafeNecklace and SafeCheck could have many other uses, from large families to groups like Boy Scouts and exploration societies to nursing home caregivers, babysitters and more,” team presenter Laura Jensen said.
What’s more, beacons can cost as little as $5, “the price of a cafeteria lunch,” Jensen said.
Jensen, CEO of Design Laurels web and graphic design, worked with Marcela Lemus, also of Design Laurels, and Brad Smith and Maxime Domain of Radium One, all based on San Francisco.
Six finalists were announced Sunday night, and Monday an audience at the Pearl Theater at the Palms texted in their votes for first place after watching two-minute product pitches.
AT&T has held 25 hackathons resulting in 500 apps, such as Read With Me literacy assessment, SleepBot sleep-tracking and urbanfruit.ly, which helps users find specific items at farmer’s markets and lets local growers trade excess produce.
In 2013, developer Ruggero Scorcioni won the hackathon with his app Good Times, which reads users’ brainwaves using Necomimi brainwave cat ears and blocks phone calls when a user is busy in conversation or thought.