As many of you know, the Stamford Innovation Center has been running technology events for years, and in the past year has run two hackathons. We’re excited to be hosting our third hackathon on Sept. 16-18th, at the Stamford Innovation Center. This time around our focus will be on Virtual Reality and Smart Cities. Because both of these are critical technologies that use skills and tools that our community has in abundance, we thought they’d be another great way to further develop our tech talent and celebrate this amazing tech community we’ve got here.
Virtual Reality can mean a lot of things, as the worlds really just mean an ‘imagined’ reality, vs. the ‘real world’ – in fact experts often point to the Matrix movies as dystopian examples of a virtual reality. In our case, we’re asking developers, designers and modelers to create projects that are in Stamford, using the “City Stack” full digital, 3D interactive model of Stamford we developed last year, and fully expect much more fun than ominous creations! Virtual reality as we’re using it typically involves creating a scene inside of software created for the gaming industry. This software is called a ‘gaming engine,’ because it’ll take care of some important things like gravity and physics automatically, and preferred software brands are Unity3D and Unreal Engine. Teams can load the “city stack” into Unity and then create whatever they like.
The second track within the VR theme will be modeling. It turns out that both UConn and Sacred Heart teach modeling in Stamford. Using tools like Maya or Sketchup, students and professionals alike create the textures, shapes and scenes that make games and VR come to life. We’re asking our participants to model something in Stamford and put it into the city stack – it can be anything! A bus stop, a park, a storefront. The point of doing all of this is that our hackathons will continue to build this public resource for citizens and students to use.
Cities, like many other things, run better when they are managed well. Managing well requires data, and this is the heart of what “Smart Cities” means. By collecting data, analyzing it in real time and after the fact, city managers can improve everything from crime to poverty to bus schedules and energy use. When we decided to address Smart Cities, we thought of Stamford and what defines us as a city. Many things do, in fact, but on aspect that we felt a Hackathon could address is transportation, specifically commuting via rail. It turns out that about 60,000 people come & go from Stamford a day, an astonishingly high percentage of the population!
So we will be bringing together data, APIs and software from an amazing list of partners and sponsors, from Pitney Bowes, Uber, IBM, Indeed, MTA, Amtrak, Google and others, with the simple mandate to find a way to make commuting better.
Hackathons are about community
We’re proud to run some of the biggest tech events in the area, and our hackathons are always a blast. As we have in the past, the hackathon participants pay a nominal fee, but the facility will be open to the public, so come by and see our speakers, experience VR on Saturday at our VR Expo, or come for the kickoff at 6:30pm on Friday, Sept. 16th!
See you soon!
– Hugh Seaton