SINGAPORE – When three polytechnic students triumphed in a government-run hackathon in Singapore in July, they had no idea it was just the beginning of an ‘eye-opening’ innovation journey that would take them 15,000 kilometres around the world.
The team of students from Singapore Polytechnic won this year’s Code::XtremeApps::2018 hackathon, themed, “Changing our World with AI”. The event challenged participants to design innovative solutions with the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
The students won the hackathon’s open category with a concept addressing Motorola Solutions’ challenge statement – to develop AI-based technology capable of running intelligent video monitoring capabilities that can be mounted to a drone.
This week, Motorola Solutions hosted the winners at its global headquarters in Chicago. There, the students enjoyed an immersive day of innovation, which included pitching their solution concept to senior Motorola Solutions employees, technology demonstrations and a special coaching session with the company’s Chief Technology Officer Paul Steinberg.
Steinberg said encouraging application developers to solve real-world challenges faced by public safety and enterprise organisations is one important way that Motorola Solutions stimulates innovation across the industry.
“We want the next generation of students and developers thinking about the technology needs of first responders and frontline workers and applying their skills in new ways to address those needs,” he said.
“Supporting talent development at the grassroots level and co-creating new solutions in partnership with our customers also reflects our company’s vision to create safer cities and thriving industries for the future. As Motorola Solutions celebrates its 90th anniversary this week, we continue to encourage students and the wider industry to join us in creating innovative solutions to increase safety and productivity for organisations all over the world,” Steinberg said.
‘Eye-opening’ experience for hackathon winners
In the fast-paced, 24-hour hackathon the students designed a concept to help public safety agencies detect and monitor early warning signs for natural disasters. It features an image database trained on AI to identify cracks in buildings and potholes in roads.
At Motorola Solutions’ headquarters, the students learned how innovation could be applied to public safety and enterprise environments through a series of demonstrations. This included Responder Alert technology to increase safety and situational awareness between frontline personnel and control room workers as well as seeing solutions that combine AI with natural language processing software to provide critical intelligence to field workers.
The students also experienced innovations developed in close collaboration with Motorola Solutions’ customers including Future Incident Command. This concept uses an augmented reality headset to provide police and fire incident commanders with multi-dimensional, mixed reality views for of critical events as they unfold.
“When I served as a firefighter with Singapore’s Civil Defence Force, I was involved in a critical incident response where I didn’t have full access to all the information I needed,” Caeden Zhao, Singapore Polytechnic student and hackathon winner, said.
“Being able to visualise data brings considerable benefit to public safety organisations, and it was an eye-opening experience to see the data needed to manage a major event represented in this way,” he said.
Fellow student Jeffrey Lau said the experience with Motorola Solutions helped him to identify new areas to apply his application development and coding skills.
“When we signed up for the Singapore hackathon, we had no idea how much we could learn or how far it could take us,” Lau said.
“It has been a mind-blowing experience learning what innovation looks like inside a large company. Although we have much to learn and more work ahead to develop our solution concept, we leave Chicago with new ideas and optimism about the work we can do in the future,” Lau said.