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Posted by Fashwell Thursday, September, 21st. 2017

Why HackZurich is the best hackathon ever

550 participants from 50 countries engaged in 40 hours of non-stop coding. Things are bound to get messy.

More than 550 participants from over 50 countries. All sitting shoulder to shoulder in a hall at the Technopark in Zurich, Switzerland. This was the 4th edition of HackZurich, a 40-hour hackathon where teams come together in order to develop any kind of application – be it mobile, desktop, for cars or even robots. Founded in 2014, HackZurich is the biggest hackathon in Europe – and, as the name says, it takes place right here in Zurich where Fashwell is also based.

Fashwell was at the event not only as workshop sponsors, we also had three of our very own Fashwellers on the ground, coding night and day with their fellow hackers, drinking decidedly too many caffeinated beverages and eating way too much chocolate (a #VerySwissProblem, if we say so ourselves).

Here are some first-hands insights from the event.

Fashwell and siroop at HackZurich

The Workshop: Siroop & Fashwell Make Online Shopping Great Again

For this year’s HackZurich, we partnered up with Siroop, Switzerland’s first open marketplace, to sponsor a workshop. The challenge? To make online shopping again. Why? Because the standard process of shopping online has grown stale and tired. We wanted to challenge the participating teams to make use of new technologies and interfaces, like visual search or conversational commerce, to spice up the current state of eCommerce.

Of course we wouldn’t dream of letting these brave souls face this challenge without a helpful set of tools. Next to their coding skills and creative thinking abilities, participants could use the Fashwell Visual Search, Visual Recommendation and Attribute APIs, as well as Siroop’s Search and Recommendation APIs.

The teams and their projects

In total, nine teams accepted the Siroop x Fashwell eCommerce challenge. Each came up with a unique plan for making online shopping great again. Here we highlight the apps which the jury found especially intriguing.

Fine

The three person team from Fine developed a prototype of an automated styling app that judges a look based on an uploaded outfit-selfie. By querying the Fashwell API, the Fine app can offer a premium outfit analysis tool by comparing images either to runway looks or a more personalized selection of images that coincide with the user’s personal style. Built with Java and Android studio, the Fine app could potentially aid in real world styling through the Fashwell API as well as offer shopping opportunities with the Siroop API.

DressMeUp

The team from DressMeUp hard at work at the Fashwell booth

Another cool project came to us from the DressMeUp team, whose idea was based, funnily enough, on a Romanian TV show about fashion. Their vision was to give users the possibility to create a visual database of one’s closet so that they may provide outfit suggestions for particular occasions. Although Java gave them some problems, they overcame those to create an app where users can upload pictures of fashion products and see them on a model.

ShoppingCat

Not only did ShoppingCat seriously impress the Siroop x Fashwell judges, they were also finalists in the general HackZurich competition. The team was inspired by a common shopping plight: How to bridge the gap from initial online inspiration to shopping opportunities. Their app lets users save these inspirational images and get recommendations based on the image library. Products can be purchased directly in the app. Built with the Fashwell API, Django backend technology, MySQL server and Android, the ShoppingCat team impressed with their skill, cohesive planning and teamwork.

The Winners: Draw2Fashion

Although there were many qualified contenders, only one team could win the “Make Online Shopping Great Again” challenge – and take home two shiny new GTX 1080 Ti GPUs that were up for grabs. Sergii Khomenko and Dmytro Khmelenko of the Draw2Fashion team convinced the jury with their creative approach. Their idea was to use images drawn by users to search for products in a shop. Using one of the hottest topics in machine learning (GANs), they wanted their app to be able to generate an image based on the sketches. Additionally, they wanted users to be able to adjust the products in an image. For instance, users could take a pictures of a shirt, then change its color or sleeve length and use it to search for similar products via the Fashwell API.

In Draw2Fashion’s Image-to-Image translation app, a product image is generated based on the user’s sketch. The Fashwell API returned this Timberland sneaker based on the generated image.

Draw2Fashion’s creativity and technical ability won the hearts of the jury and so they took home the grand prize of the Siroop x Fashwell workshop challenge.

What our Fashwellers got up to at HackZurich

This year, we had three team members who participated in HackZurich independently of the Siroop x Fashwell challenge. Our two frontend guys, Yves Buschor and Livio Bieri, formed a team with two others to build a visual news story map with data they collected from Reuters by crawling the entire news feed of the last 30 days – about 80k articles. Although there were many interesting workshops to choose from, including tasks set by CSS and Swisscom, Yves and Livio jumped on the chance to work with interesting, usually inaccessible data that was provided by Reuters exclusively for the event.

Gabriel Hochstrasser, a machine learning engineer at Fashwell, also attended HackZurich in a four person team made up of colleagues he met during his studies at the ETH. Together they built an Android app that combines commuting with exercise. The app functions much like a regular public transportation scheduling app, except that theirs lets users replace a part of their journey with walking or biking. It calculates the time difference of switching between different modes of transportation within the same journey. He was also interested in a variety of workshops – like those hosted by Amag, IBM/SwissRe, Zühlke – however decided to go for the one hosted by SBB, Postauto and VBZ.

Cool swag, chocolates, caffeinated drinks and sleeplessness prevailed at HackZurich – but it’s safe to say that every participant will happily do it all over again next year.

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