The city of Hardware faces the challenge of hackathon blockchain · TechNode

(Image Credit: TechCrunch 中国)

At its center, Shenzhen is a hardware city. But over the weekend, members of the southern city's tech community have taken on a new challenge: creating innovative applications for a variety of blockchain platforms.

This was the task at the core of the 24-hour hackathon TechCrunch of Shenzhen Ontology, which took place on the eve of the TechCrunch conference in Shenzhen 2018. When it was over on Sunday, the teams presented several new applications related to the verification of intellectual property rights, vaccinations and digital medical records.

"I think I wanted to do a project in a single day," said Yue Xuming, who moved to Shenzhen after graduating from the Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology in East China. "I thought it would be nice," he said, adding that he had no previous blockchain experience.

The event was sponsored by Ontology, a Chinese blockchain company which states that its goal is to build a trusted ecosystem using blockchain technologies. It is also the first Chinese blockchain company to join the Decentralized Identity Foundation, an organization that helps develop the basic elements needed for an open ecosystem using decentralized identity technology.

Event hackers were encouraged to use one of the company's blockchain-based IDs.

"We need talented minds to be part of our ecosystem and hosting hackers is a great way to do it," said Liu Yinghao, a senior computer engineer at Ontology.

No clear winner

There was no winner for the $ 10,000 first prize in ONTology's ONT value in digital currency, assessed on the various Chinese and international exchanges on which it traded. A company representative said it was too difficult to choose a winner among the best.

Instead, that money was divided into two prizes and given to two additional second prize winners, resulting in three $ 5,000 prizes.

Neither of the three teams that won the second prize had to deal with identification problems. They have innovated in registering transactions, verifying the history of vaccines and preventing payment fraud. The third-place team, which received $ 3,000 in ONT, has dealt with copyright verification.

"We have judged teams to be creative, from the level of product completion, the degree of integration with ontology components, the user experience and other aspects," said Liu.

The blockchain society is eager to have its technology adopted and is looking for ideas far and wide. In addition to sponsoring this event, Ontology performs its hackathons in cities around the world with similar prizes.

When it started on Saturday, it was not clear what blockchain companies could have expected by the end of the event. Many people in the room had little or no previous blockchain experience. Some people were not even programmers, but they showed up on the net and maybe worked on a parallel project.

One participant, Izzy Piyale-Sheard, moved to Shenzhen from Toronto, Canada, just a week before the event. He had little knowledge of the Chinese language or experience in programming. Piyale-Sheard has chosen to create a website to translate the most popular Chinese apps into English for foreigners.

He said he was attracted to the hackathon because of what he represented. "There's a lot of emerging technologies and emerging startups in Shenzhen," said Piyale-Sheard. "Being in the middle is very interesting for me."

CryptoKitties, a Vancouver-based blockchain company, has offered three awards along with fellow sponsors Animoca and The team that won the first prize – an RMB 11,000 (just under $ 1,600) MacBook Pro – developed the concept of a CryptoKitties hardware controller.

International team spirit

The five members of that winning team came from Germany, Hong Kong, India, Iran and Spain. Many of them met for the first time at the hackathon. It is not clear who took the MacBook at home.

The hardware seemed a natural choice for the team, some of whom had previous experiences with embedded systems and the Internet of Things. This includes Akshay, an Indian developer who has been in Shenzhen for only four months. Without any experience with the blockchain, Akshay joined the hackathon for the news.

"I wanted to work on blockchain and explore," said Akshay. "It's quite new."

Although 24 hours were not enough to jump into Shenzhen's electronics district and build a prototype, Akshay and the rest of the team members demonstrated in their presentation how the "cattroller" or "kitty pad" could be used, such as they called him to help players deal with a CryptoKitties pong game.

The second winner of CryptoKitties designed a game for the platform based on the popular mobile game Pokemon Go, which the team called PokeKitties. For this, the team received 6,000 RMB. The only other sponsor to give an award to the event was ArcBlock, which assigned an iPhone XS Max to a team that developed a payment solution based on the technology of the company.

Companies that found themselves with new applications for their platforms were quite satisfied with the results obtained by Hackathon.

"Young people should try different things, something new," said Liu of Ontology.

Additional report by Nicole Jao.

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