Winning a hackathon is not easy and you know it.
We’ve already shared some tips you should follow to improve your chances of winning one, but everything will revolve around your idea for the project.
There are quite a few articles out there with generic and outdated ideas.
If you really want to stand out from the crowd, you need to understand the context of each project and how they won the hackathon.
We’ll show you examples of real, winning hackathon projects, so you can adapt the ideas to your own project, as you see fit.
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned participant, these hackathon ideas should get you inspired and ready to rock 🤘
The Challenge: #hackARThon
The prime goal of this hackathon was to render NFTs more accessible to a wider audience, while also giving artists more control over all elements of their creation, including distribution and monetization.
Community-oriented hackathons are absolutely fantastic because you feel your work will have a direct impact on people’s lives.
The team behind the “ARTIST-Made” project opted to create a Marketplace and Community Hub that provided limited edition art & design NFT items.
Their goal was to “match lovers of Art & Design, Creative Minds, and Art Community” in a special hub, comprised of a marketplace and mobile app.
This project was incredible.
For starters, it was exactly in line with the goal of the challenge.
Secondly, a marketplace & hub meant that every party would use the platform, not just the artists:
Community-oriented hackathons are absolutely fantastic because your work has a direct impact on people’s lives. Developing a marketplace & community hub is an interesting approach to connect communities and organizations, especially if you can provide great value for both.
This project idea was extremely well detailed and presented, making it a clear winner of the hackathon and a great source of inspiration for those that follow.
Even though the challenge was focused on NFT technology, you can adapt the idea for other types of industries and communities.
The Challenge: CASSINI Hackathon
The second edition of the CASSINI Hackathon aimed to find solutions to protect and support the precious Arctic region. Open sea mobility, environmental monitoring and wildlife protection were the 3 main categories innovators could choose from.
This hackathon was extremely popular and brought together more than 570 participants!
The “PolarBearings” project was one of the winners.
They created an AI-based polar navigation platform that provided optimal routing for land vehicles in arctic regions, influenced by climate change.
Did you know Arctic communities have to cross frozen lakes and ice roads for both personal and commercial needs? With the increasing temperatures due to climate change, these routes are becoming more and more dangerous.
PolarBearings team tackled the challenge and used two components to craft this brilliant project:
We reached out to Thomas Metcalfe, who was part of the PolarBearings team, and he kindly shared with us their ideation process:
“At first it was all market research. There wasn’t any advantage in building solutions without fully understanding the problem faced in the region. So, we all did independent research and shared our findings in Discord.
Over time, some problems gained our interest more than others - at this point, we began considering solutions.
We had maybe 2 or 3 meetings where we began pitching potential ideas, and through our discussions (and advice from the experts), we slowly eliminated ideas until we arrived at the one we were most confident in.”
AI product & service applications are becoming increasingly popular. The demand is also higher than ever.
Obviously, we know that satellite navigation isn’t easily accessible and replicable.
But your focus should be on the AI component, and how this German team managed to leverage the power of artificial intelligence to develop a project that prioritizes safety and reliability.
And while their goal could have been just to design the technical side of the technology, they still managed to prototype a mobile app, define revenue models and detail a future roadmap of operations.
The Challenge: d|Code Hackathon
D|Code Challenge aimed to provide the Portuguese national post services a solution that could seamlessly read the barcodes containing all the data about a specific package.
The application had to be able to recognize all of the information on the code and display it on the screen.
“Post it” was the winner project of this hackathon.
The team of just two Brazilians developed a mobile app that delivered on its promise: they created a fast and accurate bus code (similar to a barcode), that could read the item information and present it on the mobile device.
Sometimes, less is more. Many hackathons have different challenges, but others have just one target in their minds such as this one.
This project was a huge success since it addressed CTT's key pain point and solved it with a simple and effective tool. The team employed bus code technology to create a reading process that was swift, efficient, and, most importantly, capable of working without an internet connection in remote locations!
They've also integrated this system with the smartphone app, making it easier for courier distributors to operate on a daily basis.
The Challenge: BitHacks Hackathon
BitHacks is a platform for AI Social Impact. They reached out to innovators to find solutions for existing social problems, through AI-based applications.
Project “JustView” was one of the winners. The team decided to address social justice, in the form of a very controversial topic lately - police brutality.
The lack of accountability of policemen has been a hot trend - especially in the USA - but with repercussions all over the world.
That’s why the team decided to develop an AI-based violence detection system.
Police officers are using bodycams to record their interactions with citizens, but even then, the “large amount of camera data is not being reliably analyzed, leading to a lack of accountability”.
The goal of this great project was to collect the data, analyze it, and create an algorithm that could distinguish violent from non-violent footage. The latter would then be sent to a third-party human investigator, for further analysis.
Once again, the true power of AI is yet to be unleashed. It can (and should) be used for the benefit of the community, just like we’ve seen in this brilliant use case example.
The Challenge: Tickethon
Wiener Linien - Vienna’s public transport operator - is responsible for roughly 180 underground, tram and bus lines.
The purpose of this hackathon was to find ways to improve and speed up the process of both issuing and validating digital tickets.
They also aimed to increase the efficiency of operations, the accuracy of ticket validation, as well as the overall passenger experience.
“Quicker with a Sticker” project not only had a clever name, but also a clever hackathon idea. They used Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons and QR Codes to develop a digital sticker validation system.
This is how the system worked:
Inspectors were assigned an animated sticker before they started the validation process.
When the user app detects one of the BLE beacons, it starts the verification process using the beacon id via the backend and, if successful, displays the sticker on the user’s screen.
Then, this sticker can be shown to the ticket inspector as proof of a valid ticket.
This way, it was both easy and fast for inspectors and passengers to show and validate their tickets, significantly reducing queue time and overcrowding.
This winning project idea had it all. They seamlessly integrated the digital sticker system within the mobile app and proved that you can find solutions through technology, without needing to re-design major infrastructures.
Digital stickers are a great idea that can be used in a variety of settings, so they can be a great choice for your next hackathon project.
When starting a hackathon challenge, you should ask yourself (and your teammates) these questions:
These questions will help you clear your mind, structure your ideas better and write off the ones that don’t oblige to the rules.
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