Odessa Blockchain Hackfest: The Arena For Experiments In The Field Of Blockchain
On November 17 and 18, the largest co-working and event space Terminal 42 based in the very heart of Odessa turned into the arena for experiments in the field of decentralized technologies. The first ever international Odessa Blockchain HackFest began. Not only did the event attract experienced blockchain developers, but also those who decided to enter the world of decentralized developments for the first time.
48 hours, 6 teams, 4 assignments, 13 mentors, and one professor. Participants voluntarily agreed to get contained in time and space to demonstrate unlimited possibilities of innovative technologies.
Hackathon was established as a result of the collaboration of the Odessa-based startup in the field of the digital identification Hive.id, the blockchain accelerator 482.solutions, and the large South Korean company WiZBL. Such an international Ukrainian-Korean blockchain hackathon was held for the first time, thus it was even more interesting to follow it.
For two days, Blockspoint has plunged into the atmosphere of intense brainstorming, survived all difficulties and joys with participants to finally find out which team would receive the top prize of $5,000 and a special gift from Asian partners — an internship in South Korea with the possibility of further employment.
“There are plenty of brilliant minds in Ukraine that create technologies but do not know how to sell or even present it. Hackathon is an opportunity to declare oneself, take a chance and get a reward. And also to establish contacts. IT geeks are a kind of a caste, they prefer staying at home without leaving their comfort zones. They can get support from large companies here, both monetary and mentoring,” Vladimir Malakchi, CMO at 482.solutions and one of the mentors, explained.
The first day of the hackathon started off with making contacts and forming teams. Some developers, accompanied by friends, came with ready-made ideas, while others decided to try their hand and came alone.
Not all registered participants attended the hackathon. According to Maria Yarotskaya, a mentor of the event, the teams from Romania and Kiev could not make it to Odessa because of the weather. Nevertheless, the cozy space of Terminal 42 has become even more comfortable thanks to the groups of developers, marketers and designers who seemed to be hypnotizing the screens of the laptops they could not get apart from for even a minute. There were excitement, progressive ideas and competitive spirit in the air.
Saving the planet and robot tokenization: the ideas presented on the hackathon
“The main thing is that blockchain has not to be far-fetched,” Kostiantyn Shterental, CEO of Hive.id, said. According to him, many developers do not fully understand what blockchain really is despite all the hype surrounding this topic. Some of them are afraid of this word and consider blockchain as a secret technology from the future, while others, having taken just an initial look at the concept of distributed ledger, are trying to implement it everywhere to earn some easy money.
“We want to show developers that there is nothing supernatural, and their skills are enough to work with blockchain. But developing products on blockchain is a time-consuming process, which is hardly possible for a single person in any reasonable time frame. In any case, it should be a team of at least two or three developers. Therefore, we do not require a working prototype of a product at the hackathon, but it is important for us to see that a team has a clear idea and a vision for its implementation,” Kostiantyn Shterental argued.
He also pointed out that the organizers had formed the main task from the very beginning. With the help of the hackathon, they hoped to identify good projects that could be implemented and put in the market. The tasks for participants were concentrated around blockchain by WiZBL. They needed to integrate this network into their product, or to test it for bugs and vulnerabilities. There was also an additional task from Hive.id to come up with a solution for using a QR code in a two-factor authentication system.
For two days, the teams had to go through fire and water, face endless pitches, rough runs of presentations, talks with mentors, disputes and insights. The jury evaluated the projects according to five main criteria: innovation, sustainability, universality, manufacturability, and quality of presentations.
“I don’t remember how I became a developer, it was almost ten years ago,” Alexander Novitsky, a 26-year-old participant, recalled. “I don’t know much about blockchain, my friends asked me to help with their project, so I came here. Yesterday, we started working on a project that will allow large retail chains to control the quality of their services thanks to so-called secret buyers. We named this project Visitor.” Alexander added that blockchain was a good idea, but its use could not yet justify the efforts that had been devoted to its development, while the whole essence of cryptocurrency was exchange trading.
However, during the hackathon, guys have managed to make more than other teams altogether. Having invented the project from scratch, they wrote a demo version of the application, implemented the WiZBL blockchain to check the balance on the wallet and transfer funds from the company’s account to the user’s account, and also launched a working node.
The Skillonomy project was designed to solve the problem of low users’ motivation while attending online courses. According to the team, about 200 million of users start learning, but only 4% of them reach the end. The guys decided to tokenize the learning process, thereby creating a relationship between students’ performance and teachers’ incomes.
“Imagine a post-apocalyptic world where the boundaries of the real and the virtual are erased. Get Achieve is a futuristic game with augmented reality and a series of intellectual quests in a breathtaking atmosphere,” — Alexandra Berest, co-founder and senior game developer of the project, addressed the audience. She said that the gameplay of their product was supported by GAT tokens, while the WiZBL blockchain allowed users to work with data in real time.
The Green History service, aimed at saving the “lungs of the planet”, also seemed interesting. “One click equals one tree,” — the project representative Alexander Shiryn explained. The team decided to create a global greening application. During the hackathon, they created a Telegram chat bot and introduced smart contracts on Ethereum by using the WiZBL wallet. The idea is that a user donates, for example, $10 and receives the unique NFT token that confirms the right to a nominal tree. Yet, it seems that the model of monetization of the project is to be elaborated.
The Balance bot project is rather simple but elegant idea, that uses Telegram chatbots. The team decided to make a service to check the balance and transfer cryptocurrency in one click with the help of a bot. Interestingly, they decided to replace the boring wallets addresses, which often looks like an “abracadabra”, with personalized names that look like tags in Telegram, for instance, @blockchainlovesyou.
The last but not the least project called Manage Rigs was fully working from the very beginning. The authors had to solve a single task during the hackathon, which was to implement the WiZBL blockchain into their system. The idea of the project was to increase the profit of miners with the help of tips on what token is worth mining. “While we are talking here, our clients have earned extra $600,” Oleg, one of two team members, stated.
The 428.solution team presented its pilot project named Robocharge, in which they seem to have decided to collect all popular things related to the IT world: artificial intelligence, robots, and blockchain. The project did not participate in the competition and was submitted for common development. According to Vladimir Malakchi, in the future, the world will increasingly switch to an autonomous support, where robots will analyze people’s needs and optimize the economy, supplying the necessary amount of raw materials. In such conditions, it is important to create a basis for the future economy of robots. The guys created an opportunity for robots to use tokens to pay for services without human participation. For example, one robot can pay a digital coin to another robot for helping it to recharge.
The hackathon outcomes: the truth about the Internet and the award ceremony
The hackathon is rapidly coming to an end. By the evening of the second day, all projects have already been presented, and team members are nervously roaming around Terminal 42 and waiting for a verdict to come in. It smells like books and coffee in the rooms. Meanwhile, Professor of the Korean Institute of Advanced Technology (KAIST), Songchun Moon, has plunged everyone into the world of conspiracy, military secrets, and hidden developments.
In order to tell about Songchun Moon, it would be necessary to write another huge article. After becoming a professor at the age of 24, he pioneered in the computer technology development, specialized in cryptography and data processing. He told that, in fact, the Internet was invented just nine years after the first space flight — in 1969, and the first computer was invented by British scientists during the World War II in 1943. Blockchain is also not new at all, since decentralized systems were tested in the late 80s. He called on blockchain developers to pay more attention to data, not software. “The same mistake was made by Bill Gates, to whom I advised to name the company not Microsoft, but Microdata,” the professor concluded.
After Songchun Moon’s revealing performance, the organizers finally announced the winners. According to Kostiantyn Shterental, the fate of the first place was decided almost unanimously — all judges chose the Visitor project, which got along with the criteria of a successful and useful project. The projects Skillonomy and Get Achieve were placed second and third, respectively. The remaining teams received $150 as an incentive prize.
Kostiantyn Shterental said that this event was just the beginning of the series of similar hackathons. The next station is Kiev. He also added that the first experience is always difficult, so now the organizators have to work on errors.
Anyway, a start has been made. After the Odessa hackathon, the army of blockchain developers was replenished with new adherents, and the industry has got some new projects. In addition, it allowed to build bridges between the IT-worlds of South Korea and Ukraine. It is interesting to find out what this collaboration can lead to.