Here at Motius, we’re certainly no stranger to hacking, quick prototypes, and ideation. Naturally, when Techfest Munich asked us to be a part of their 2017 event, we enthusiastically accepted. Dubbed “more than a hackathon”, Techfest Munich gifted us a special opportunity to not only work with awesome technology and hack something together over the course of a weekend, but also place ourselves at the life-blood of Munich’s thriving tech scene.
The Monday after the event, still recovering from simultaneous caffeine withdrawals and an afterparty-induced hangover, we started gathering our thoughts on the event. At the end of the day, two things are clear: tech is awesome and we love sharing it with other people. This weekend, 15 Motees switched from sharing work with clients and each other, to sharing it with 300 awesome tech fanatics just like us. Throughout the weekend we were blown away by the level of engineering and innovation. Until this weekend we’ve never wanted to over-analyze our urine, check real-time analytics of our food delivery or use an AR headset to weld. Techfest and hackathons in general are perhaps the best way to experience cutting edge tech.
An opinion about Techfest
Was Techfest perfect? Not entirely. Was it an extremely fun and incredibly unique event? 100%. We could separate the features of Techfest into a Pros and Cons list, but who are we to tell you what you do and don’t want out of a hackathon. So here is a list of unique characteristics that we feel set Munich Techfest apart:
- Attendees had a lot of amazing tech and tools at their disposal. Generally, even in the tech field we only come across a small sector of the tech world.
- Hackers experienced some of the business side of tech for a presentation at the end. Unlike most hackathons, participants had to think about how to present their work and what problems it could solve.
- Techfest tries to provide a platform for both techies & business thinkers alike. People with little to no tech experience could have still had a valuable time at Techfest
- Everyone was able to choose their own focus for the weekend but were encouraged to fit it to one of the 10 tracks or problems that the sponsoring companies presented.
The balloon story
Personally, my team decided to simply have fun and not stress about fitting our idea into a company track. For a few weeks, a few of us in the office had talked about launching a weather balloon and analyze the data that it could record. Techfest seemed like the perfect opportunity to put our heads together and make the most kick-ass flying piece of latex, plastic and tech. We entered the week with high hopes of streaming 360-degree video down to a VR headset but one piece of tech quickly became our downfall. We ended up spending almost 2 whole days trying to make our LTE shield from Intel work but to no avail. Despite this we still decided to launch the balloon and just analyze the data once we collected it. On Sunday morning, we were confronted with the second large problem of the weekend: Mother Nature. Rain and wind prevented us from launching during our Air Traffic Control approved window so we deferred our launch to Wednesday this week. Early on launch day, our team of 4 gathered at the office to put the final touches on our balloon and with a small audience we launched it only to lose GPS data within minutes (video of the launch on facebook). After a few hours of nerve-wrecking radio silence we received communication from our balloon just before it went international. The GPS data point indicated that it landed right before crossing the German-Austria border. Later that afternoon we took a little 2.5-hour road trip to the what we thought was the landing zone. Once there, we quickly realized that finding it would still be an impossible task. After a quick detour to Austria we returned back the Motius HQ, heartbroken and poor. But alas, on Thursday morning, with his last gasps of battery life, our magnificent dog paw shaped GPS tracker sent us one more data point. A phone call later and Air Motius is on his way back to Garching!
While we won’t launch a high-tech weather balloon every day and our headphones certainly don’t have Arduino-powered LED’s, Motius is a company built by hackers and tinkerers, for hackers and tinkerers. Every week we run a mini hackathon where we come together to work with the latest technology to build something awesome. We call this weekly event ELU (Entdecken – Lernen – Umsetzen) and it embodies what our company stands for. Coming to work every day is like taking part in a hackathon, only hopefully with a few extra hours of sleep. Thankfully, just when the hacking withdrawals should be setting in, here at Motius were just getting started.
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