PayPal and Braintree have crowned Hello the winners of the 24-hour development marathon BattleHack.
The challenge, set up and run by the payment firms, requires teams of coders to develop a working application from scratch in one day.
The apps do not have to be fully functional by the end of the sprint, but must contribute towards improving the community in some way.
Senior director of developer and startup relations for Braintree and Paypal John Lunn said Hello’s app utilised a number of different application programming interfaces (APIs) to provide a working system, which they then demoed at the end of the event.
The winners developed an application designed to simultaneously translate speech, sign language and text into the user’s native language as they are having the conversation.
“The amount of APIs they had to use was huge,” said Lunn. “They used APIs to deal with voice, APIs to do with recognising hand movements, and then text – so a hell of a lot of work to build something that’s actually pretty useful.”
Participants were allowed to use Braintree and PayPal APIs during their development, as well as APIs from participating partner companies.
According to Lunn, events such as this are important to promote innovation, and may contribute towards closing the IT industry skills gap. He said BattleHack is especially important in other countries, such as Turkey, as it is one of the only events that exists to allow developers to display their skills in a public forum.
“When you see how amazing an app built in 24 hours can be, it’s very inspirational and, with the rapid rise of student hackathons, I think universities are finding these events to be educational as well,” said Lunn.
“It’s a mixture of skills you don’t necessarily learn if you’re developing systems behind a desk all day because you present something, you build it in a very high-pressured environment and you stand on the stage and talk about what you have built – which are all very useful skills.”
Although Braintree and Paypal do not actively seek to hire developers through BattleHack, some past participants are now on the team, and it is a good opportunity to display coding skills to others in the industry. There have also been past winners who have started businesses based on their applications.
Earlier in 2014, the Cyber Security Challenge also aimed to address skills shortages in the IT industry by organising events designed to find amateurs who could be the UK’s next cyber security experts.
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