One thing is for certain; this year's Money2020 hackathon was not void of any of the usual spirit, camaraderie, and passion that you'd expect from some of the country's best innovators.
The event began with an explosively motivating opening ceremony, where our own team, led by Matt Ozvat that included Dan Ourada, Josh Mather, Tony Rose, and Scott DeAngelo, hit the stage with a variety of tech toys / gadgets and a broad, but noble challenge statement: "Solve a World Problem With Vantiv Payments Integrations".
And just like that, the packed conference room at the Palazzo Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas evolved into a scene of organized chaos that included the sounds of keyboards clicking away; intense stares into monitors, freshly opened bags of various snacks and hot, steaming coffee (LOTS of coffee).
Meanwhile at the Vantiv booth, we encouraged participants to include the use of any of our gadgets, which included robotics such as Sphero, Cubelets, Echo, and the wildly popular Nao Robot, along with Verifone's freshly launched tablet solution, the Carbon, and the newest augmented reality tech product, HoloLens.
One team in particular had picked the HoloLens for their solution. Looking over at their table, you'd be hard pressed not to see the device being worn by various participants, heads swiveling around at every angle, outstretched, reaching, and flicking of fingers, and placing invisible objects here and there, while one could only wonder what exactly they were up to. One thing's for certain: time was especially important, as the giant LED countdown timer at the front of the room constantly reminded everyone that time was precious and very limited.
The Nao Robot was also a popular pick for more than one of our teams. As fun and interesting as the robot is to work with, it proved to be a particularly challenging device for payments integration, at least within a practical sense.
Other teams gravitated to the Verifone Carbon, which opens big doors to developers who want to take advantage of the multitude of opportunities that exist within the development of apps for this product.
The hackers who remained in the early morning showed mixed emotions; head-scratching, eye-rubbing frustration along with some more optimistic signs of celebration that included high-fives and hugs among team mates surrounding stacks of half-empty pizza boxes and coffee cups.
Slowly but surely, the energy started to pick up again. Eventually, the time had ticked away, and all hackers were forced to step away from their keyboards. It was now time to pitch.
Each team was offered an opportunity to pitch their concept to the company that they had picked. A total of 7 teams of brilliant minds lined up to show off their solution to the Vantiv judges.
In the end, we were forced to pick just two teams who would represent Vantiv on the final stage:
First up, Nimit Sawhney, a one-person team with a solution that he named Adjutus, integrated Vantiv's Apple Pay on the Web API into the Spheros device, which he designed as a fun and engaging table-top device that could be "driven" around to individuals sitting at tables, communicating to them via their mobile phones, delivering stories of people and organizations in need, and offering them a simple way to do their good deed for the day: tap to donate to the cause of their choice, right there on impulse. We wish we could show off his UX, as it was beautifully done.
The other finalist on the Vantiv stage was a group of young hackers who called themselves Team HoloVantiv. They took on an extremely technical challenge that integrated our Vantiv API into a single solution that utilized both our HoloLens as well as the Nao Robot. With Augmented Reality and your Nao Robot, you could theoretically pay for live Tai Chi lessons from the comfort of your living room, among other things!
The grand prize was ultimately awarded to another team, but at the end of the day, anyone who can create such incredibly complex solutions in 24 hours straight deserves to be recognized! We're proud of all the teams who integrated Vantiv APIs into their solutions, and every other team out there as well. As usual, the camaraderie, innovation, and energy left us feeling even more excited to do it again next year.
Stay tuned into Twitter for more live updates, including several live-streaming interviews and broadcasts that can also be found on our own Vantiv O.N.E. Money2020 Hackathon space.