SNOW.DOG at London Tech Week 2017

23 June 2017

We took part in the TechXLR8 conference and HackXLR8 Hackathon during London Tech Week 2017. This festival of technology was a great experience with many inspiring talks, interviews, and exhibitions. Too many to mention them all, but some of them were very impressive.

Sophia (a robot that looks and talks like a human) chatting with its (her?) creator Dr. David Hanson. Robots don’t have look human to vacuum your flat, build a car, or help during surgery. But, when interacting with humans to talk or help show the way in a building, facial expression, vocal tone, and gestures are really improving the quality of their interactions.

Could Artificial Intelligence be smarter than humans are? And what about Robot’s Law? The Three Laws of Robotics were introduced in 1942 by Isaac Asimov’s story. Are they still valid?

It’s amazing that ideas from science-fiction books, comic books, movies have become reality. Richard Browning built an “Iron Man” suit and showed us its capabilities flying in front of the ExCeL building. You can watch it on YouTube but life demo makes you feel the power of that technology.

After the first day of exploring exhibitions full of IoT, VR, and AI technologies we started Day Two – the Hackathon. Participants focused on Smart Home, Smart City, and Smart Transport. PrivPark, a platform for renting private parking spaces, was our idea to help people find parking space in the city. A Smart Blocker device mounted in the parking spot scans car’s plates and sends to the driver’s phone the simple question, “Do you want to park there?”. When the car leaves, the driver is charged an automatic payment and the parking spot owner receives his cut. We built a prototype device using Raspberry Pi with Android Things, Camera, distance sensor, Google Cloud Vision, and mobile app to find available parking spots. Brian Linuxing and mentors gave us great tips about presentation and key points of our idea.

On the next day, all teams presented during the final demos in front of the jury. It was a great feeling and a bit of challenge to show our idea to others. Members of the jury were interested about details of ideas, business models, target market and long-term vision. After 30 minutes results were announced. Congratulation to winners – the Airmove team – for their project of testing air pollution in the city using small devices to get real-time data from the whole city. We didn’t win, but felt satisfied with our work and presentation.

We discovered London – a city with great public transport, great people from the whole world, and its own unique challenges.

Oh! There is our short film about our trip to London for HackXLR8. Have fun :)

Bartek Kwiatkowski
Bartek Kwiatkowski