It was two sleepless nights of hard work and passion for the 210 over students who took part in the 2nd A.I.CKATHON challenge at Iskandar Space Johor Bahru. Organised by University Malaysia and Iskandar Investment, the event saw tech students brainstorm their minds and skills over the weekend to complete the tasks and win the challenge.
A total of 44 groups took part in the hackathon. The students are from various private and government universities in Malaysia. There were also 4 international teams from Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia taking part in the challenge.
The challenge required students to come up with solutions for smart cities or smart retail using Artificial Intelligence. The students had to use at least one of the three APIs provided for their tasks. The APIs included fashion API, facial API and license plate recognition API.
The students had just under 48 hours to complete their tasks. And the tasks proved to be rather challenging for most of them. The students spent the day and night hacking and working together with their teammates. For some, the challenges were something totally new to them. They had to learn everything from start while for some students, the tasks seemed quite straightforward.
Ng Yit Tyn, President of the organising committee for the event from the Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology University Malaya said, “The purpose of the event was to create a platform for students to test out their skills. In Malaysia, we don’t have that many hackathons that focus on Artificial Intelligence. We feel that the students will learn a lot from this hackathon will also gain more experience over the competition.”
She added that the event was totally free of charge for the students, with transportation provided thanks to the numerous sponsors towards it. Sponsors and technology partner for the event included Dell EMC and Intel while COQNITICS sponsored the API.
Eric Kang, Senior Program Manager, Infrastructure Solutions Group South Asia Dell EMC said, “I am expecting to get some of the use cases from the participants. As this competition is at the ASEAN level, we can see the difference between Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand. It doesn’t represent everything, but we can certainly compare some differences. I hope for ASEAN this will be the way. It is never too late as long as we have the tools and the skills. This is an opportunity for ASEAN to catch up with the bigger nations. We have seen how India has transformed into a global software hub and now from China. So, there is definitely prospects in this region as well.”
Looking at the students, Eric said that some of them are here to win. But for some he added, this is probably their first hackathon and they are puzzled spending a couple of hours trying to figure out their first use case.
On the last day, the teams had to present their projects to a panel of six judges which included a representative from Intel, Iskandar Investment, University Malaya and others. There were two rounds of judging. The first round saw all 44 teams pitch their technological innovation and creativity. The 44 teams will then be reduced to 10 teams for the final round.
In the final round, the teams were judged on the utilisation of the AI technology, the design and impact of their application, its scalability and technical difficulties. It was a pretty tense situation for the teams as all of them were bombarded with lots of questions from the judges.
Some of the projects included smart traffic management systems, smart parking systems, using facial recognition for shopping clothes and keeping up with fashion trends as well as using emotions to buy food.
Nukman Abdul Rahman, Head of Digital for Iskandar Investment, who was also one of the judges said, “A lot of them have very good ideas but still needs a lot of work. 48 hours is not enough to patch things out. But the fact that some of them can demonstrate something shows the amount of talent they have.”
In the end, team OwlNext from Multimedia University were crowned champions. The winning team made up of Louis Ong Bing Hao, Adris Ichiro Bin Mohd Faris and Nurul Artika Zambri walk away with RM10000. Their team designed a new e-commerce system that uses both virtual reality and augmented reality.
“By using these technologies, it allows people to visualise their product as they are buying it,” said Louis. They hope to that someday their e-commerce platform will be understood by all.