HackZurich 2016 Engineering an App from Scratch in 40 Hours

On the weekend of September 16–18, the international "creative software community" gathered at the Technopark in Zurich. Their aim: to create a web, mobile or desktop app from scratch in a non-stop hackathon. AdNovum couldn't abstain, of course.

A busy gamers' lounge right at the entrance, a few steps further a young man lying in a deck chair hiding behind a blindfold and under a beach towel, a coffee bar, backpacks and laptops all over the place. This is the scenery at the Technopark Zurich, Saturday, 9 a.m.


The night before, HackZurich was kicked off. The event that has attracted approx. 500 people from across the world is in full swing. Organized in teams of two to four participants, they have 40 hours to come up with a brandnew idea and turn it into a smoothly working solution. Speaking of work: While the organizers have provided the necessary facilities, most participants hardly get any sleep, either due or thanks to all the energy drinks and coffee stations.

AdNovum team engineers kitchen

After all, they are feverishly working towards one goal: presenting a decent app to the jury. A very popular topic is the internet of things. The AdNovum team has decided to work on a project named "kitchen" (or "Chuchi" in Swiss German). They want to create an app that accepts orders and gives reminders. For example, if the user says "John, please go and buy some wine", John receives a reminder on his mobile, including a map and a picture of the product, when he gets close to the wine shop. In additon to the app, the team implements a back end. It also uses a scanner and Siri – who finds herself in a completely new role opening non-iOS apps. While there is only little documentation on this use case, the four AdNovum engineers succeed in making the app work. Is it thanks to their strategy? "We planned to do something small but working, and then extend it", says Angel. "It is also important to have the companies, which are present as sponsors, provide the basis", adds Theano. Anyway, the jury highly appreciates the demo by the AdNovum team.

Rather creative than competitive

For the AdNovum engineers, HackZurich is a nice experience thanks to its inspiring and relaxed atmosphere. In particular, they appreciate receiving fresh input from their co-participants and the present companies that provide ideas from real life. In one workshop, for example, they try to find new approaches to insurance. The idea is to prevent loss events by providing their customers with software.


Being able to turn exactly such ideas into tangible solutions was AdNovum's motivation for starting the "AdNovum Incubator" initiative in summer 2016. It promotes innovation within the company, maintains relationships with research labs, develops show cases and supports the exchange of experience and knowledge.


For the record: The winner of HackZurich 2016 is "Ivy", which allows creating websites by means of intelligent voice control and without any programming skills. Congratulations!  http://hackzurich.com/