#PaxTechHack — 48 hours to shape the future of the passenger journey

The 2–4 of April saw the Passenger Technology Solutions expo — a hotbed for innovation in the aerospace industry, with exhibitors ranging from manufacturers of the next business-class-worthy airplane chairs to the latest technology screens to watch the Jurassic Park trilogy on your journey. And in the heart of this conference, BeMyApp was hosting a hackathon with Reed Exhibitions where top developers and innovators from Hamburg gathered to work towards boosting the passenger journey with new tech solutions. And here is what went down…

Our 12 teams showing us their best game faces as they go head to head to compete for their share of the 10k prize pool

As we opened the doors for #PaxTechHack, the sun was shining through the Hamburg Messe window casting a spotlight on the hackathon space. We welcomed 50 bright-eyed and eager developers, designers, marketers, and business savvy individuals to the 48-hour hackathon, and kicked things off by giving them a lowdown of what to expect over the coming days.

14 ideas were pitched on stage in just 60 seconds — some opting for Challenge 1: the Inflight Community Challenge. The aim of this challenge was to create a digital solution that brings together flight passengers as a community and encourages interaction on a long journey. Others had an idea that was a perfect match for Challenge 2: the Boost Airport Retail Challenge. This challenge aimed to create a solution that addressed those early-bird passengers that sweep through security and head straight to the gate without a passing glance at those giant Toblerones in duty-free (we all know someone like that; it might be you! But that’s okay…).

MC Charlie keeping the idea pitches to time — 60 seconds on stage to pitch your idea and cast your net for the best profiles to join your team

After hearing the ideas and skill sets of everyone wanting to build a team (or add to the team they arrived with) — we had a swift team formation session (think speed dating…but replace the romance with coding compatibility) and before we knew it, our 50 innovators were now 12 teams. Now, all they had to do was quickly get to know each other, put their game faces on, and get ready to win.

Want to meet the teams and hear their ideas? We thought so…

Here are the teams that tackled Challenge 1: Inflight Passenger Community Challenge

Arsalan Gul and Malik Jehangir Ahmed are team Air Pocket

Air Pocket: An in-flight entertainment-based gamification platform to earn frequent flyer points in the sky. What makes us unique is that we help you get the most out of your journey. Have you ever imagined earning some points for your frequent flyer miles by playing with a team you create all by yourself with the passengers?

Raed Romanov, Ivan Glushenkov, Dmitrii Kamaldinov, Dylan Maryk, Valerie Hentschel and Linda Hirsch are team Flymate

Flymate: A solution that asks simple questions about a person immediately after they have bought a ticket for their flight. An algorithm then distributes people to seats on a flight to maximise passenger satisfaction.

Maximilian Zietz, Christoph Hess, and Benjamin Becker are team tindAIR

tindAIR: Writing text messages can be tiring and is often emotionless. Speech recognition software reacts sensitively to background noises that can create an issue when there is loud chatting picked up. By using tindAIR which utilises lip reading technology, you can chat easily and see the emotion of your chat partner. tindAIR is a lovely way to communicate above the clouds…

Diego Baranda, Muhammad Adib Bin Ali, Damola ‘D’ Omotosho and Guillermo Acilu are team ShAir

ShAir: A chatbot that uses a matching algorithm to bring passengers together who have shared travel goals. Offer or ask for anything you need and ShAir will find the right match for you. Travel the world. Make new friends. Networking in the sky has never been easier.

Tugberk Duman, Minja Silvennoinen and Tatjana Förster are team CloudLounge

CloudLounge: This app and the IFE experience provides an easy-to-use personal networking experience for all the passenger segments. Whether you are a traveler who is looking to explore with the app prior to travel or a business traveler who might only have limited time onboard CloudLounge will work for you. Just glimpse at the IFE camera, or read your QR code to join the lounge of a fellow traveler.

Here are the teams that opted for Challenge 2: Boost Airport Retail Challenge:

Mariem Khlifi, Andrey Bogomolov, and Shresth Agrawal are team Fantom Gaze

Fantom Gaze: We provide an opportunity for the retail shops to create amazing ads that will on one side be an unforgettable experience for the airport guests and from another side provide opportunities to increase sales and improve brand awareness. All this while providing a pleasant and easy experience, without cumbersome interaction with the smartphone.

Gürel Yildiz, Rifat Cenk Mola, Hari Santhich Venkatachalam, and Prathyusha Kanda are team SHOP2GATE

SHOP2GATE: Our innovative solution creates mobile and web apps for online duty-free shopping. Pick up packages from arrival/departure stores and have your package delivered to the gate or to any address. Our solution navigates early-birds through duty-free shops by highlighting incentive offers. Our solution is fully integrated with shops, airports, and airlines to convey valuable information.

Jan Armbrust, Leon Kunert, and Arjun Jamil are team Metashop

Metashop: A One-stop web app for 1.Targeted retail; serving customers products that are more likely to be bought, 2. Incentivized purchasing; paying customers to have the chance of winning selected items/services, and 3. Flight information; partner airlines get a digital channel to push information to app-less passengers.

Dragos Gabriel Nedelcu, Bogdan Nedelcu and Waqas Shahid are team Airport One

Airport One: Urgency to board the plane and more digital shopping behaviour calls for innovation in duty-free shopping for passengers. Airport One is an augmented reality self-learning platform that enhances passenger experience on the ground through engagement and personalization.

Arved Baumgärtner, Bastian Brandt and Fabrizio Ciacchi are team FlyMart

FlyMart: When traveling, you don’t have the time and energy to buy gifts for your beloved ones or take care of your groceries. FlyMart offers a shopping solution that allows you to shop for goods at your destination airport and pick them up at the baggage claim.

Evgeny Becker, Peter Martischka, Simon Hanke, Lukas Antesberger and Natalie Moschner are team BudJet

BudJet: This solution offers passengers the best products they can purchase at the airport based on their leftover budget. Choose from categories such as souvenirs, food & drinks, luxury items, and regional products. BudJet recommends the products in a way that they match your budget, and has a feature to navigate you through the airport so that you pass all shops of interest. You can be sure to be back to the gate on time.

Folarin Olulana, Lenar Makhmutov, Valentina Konjukhova, Christian Wolff, Tianmi Dong, and Marco Conticini are team Navnow

Navnow: A tool which airlines can integrate within their app: passengers receive all information directly from there. We offer shop/restaurant recommendations (as well as discounts) and an indoor navigation system to help them find their way around large airports. The advertising is refined and personalised based on the individual profile, preferences, and budget of the passengers.

During the 48 hours, the teams were visited by mentors from the airline industry who offered sound business advice to help shape the pitches for the grand finalé of the hackathon. Each team had just three crucial minutes on stage in front of the jury to showcase their demo and prove the value of these new and innovative concepts. This was no time for last-minute nerves — this was their opportunity to showcase all of the hard work and determination they had thrown into the hack. All of the teams rose to the challenge; the jury saw no telltale signs of sleep deprivation (we had some hardcore hackers pulling all-nighters at this open-all-hours hackathon) as each presenter channeled their inner TED talk guru.

Despite all the hardcore hacking, there was a little time for some fun distractions including the famous BeMyApp buzzer quiz!

Our jury was an esteemed panel consisting of industry legends with a whole wealth of experience between them:
- Pierre Charbonneau: Director, Passenger Experience & Facilitation at International Air Transport Association (IATA)
- Dr. Stathis Kefallonitis: Founder & President at branding.aero & Noesis Analysis Labs
- Katie Murphy: Senior Exhibition Director at Reed Exhibitions
- Sylvain Guilbon: Head of Customer Program Management at Sitaonair

With the final demos over, the teams could now relax with a cold Heineken (shameless shout out to our drinks sponsor!) while the pressure was now on the shoulders of our jury. They had just 30 minutes to come to a mutual conclusion on the best team for each challenge. This was no easy feat, especially with a great prize up for grabs for two teams (the winning projects for each challenge walked away with a cool 5k euros to share between them — milkybars on them!)

We had kept the teams (and you, if you have read this far!) in suspense long enough — it was time to announce the winners:

Challenge One Winners: CloudLounge

CloudLounge on stage with the Jury — 1st place winners of the Inflight Community Challenge

Challenge Two Winners: BudJET

BudJET collecting their prize on stage — 1st place for the Airport Retail Boost Challenge

Despite there being only two prizes up for grabs, all of the teams deserve a huge round of applause for their efforts. We saw nothing but focus and determination from all of our participants, and we hope it’s not the last we hear of these amazing ideas that could make our next long haul a much greater experience.

Thanks again to Reed Exhibitions for hosting this awesome event!

Read this article and thought ‘Wow I want a piece of this hackathon action!’? — we thought so, and maybe we are coming to a city near you! Check out our current events here.

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