Hackathon project ideas for an AI-focused challenge

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Mar 30, 2018

winners of nvidia jetson challenge

pictured: Zhang-Wei Hong, Yu-Ming Chen, Hsuan-kung Yang, Sih-Ping Lai, Hsin-Wei Hsiao, the winners of NVIDIA® Jetson™ Developer Challenge


Having groundbreaking hackathon project ideas is probably the most important aspect of your efforts to win a programming challenge. What you come up with will ultimately depend on the theme of the hackathon, naturally, but either way, we want to inspire you hoping that this piece comes in handy one day!


Let’s start with the basics, what actually IS a hackathon? The name comes from “hack” and “marathon”, which should give you a good idea of the meaning of this word. Hackathons are events used by organizers to solve problems they deeply care about, in an organized chaos kind of environment. Initially the whole idea was aimed at programmers, but considering how rapidly the world evolves, other sectors have taken up the practice, and today it isn’t unusual to encounter an idea hackathon, one that doesn’t involve coding at all. The challenge usually lasts a weekend, sometimes less, and most of the time is open to the public. Most innovative hackathon project ideas are born in the spur of the moment, perfectly complementing the nature of those events. Prizes are a no-brainer here, because almost nobody would compete just for the sake of it.


So what are the steps you need to take in order to actually take part in a hackathon? In short, the most important things you need to take care of are assembling a team, or deciding to participate on your own, and actually choosing an event. After that everything will depend on the challenge you’ve selected, so let’s get right into it!


Hackathon ideas

So you’re taking part in a challenge that is focused on use of AI in everyday life. What will you come up with? You can bet most participants will try to focus on comfort of life, because that’s how AI is advertised to the general consumers. Be it a virtual assistant in your phone, an algorithm that decides upon best camera settings based on the conditions, those are solutions that sell products to masses. Go against the current, market is saturated enough with those solutions already, if you just decide to follow that path you risk getting forgotten in the crowd. Your best shot is to try something to benefit others, disadvantaged individuals, those working in challenging environments, or the humanity as a whole through some environmental project. Possibilities are honestly endless, but being different might be crucial to your success.


Without any further ado, here’s what we have for you, enjoy.


Help those in need

People with disabilities should not be separated from the society simply because they’re less fortunate. Freedom of mobility is one of the greatest things we as humans can enjoy, but sadly some of us have been robbed of this possibility. AI is a powerful tool to harness, so put it to work where it can help people move around like they weren’t able to before. Incorporate cameras and proximity sensors to enable a mobility scooter to be an autonomous device helping handicapped individuals roam freely for their daily errands.


Protect the environment

We all share the same planet, we have the same home, and we should be taking care of it with the best of our efforts. Today, with the power of AI we can put computers to work on a clean environment for us to live in. Autonomous waste sorting systems are very much a possibility today, and presenting such project for a hackathon might win you the prize. Just imagine a box that you throw trash in, and a set of cameras to feed the image recognition algorithm that will control the system sorting waste for you. The environmental benefits implied by that solutions are immense!


Sacrifice the robots, save human lives

Human life is invaluable, the cost of saving one is never too high. Dedicate your project to solutions like remotely controlled robots deployed on site of a catastrophe or an accident. That way both the victim can be extracted from the dangerous area without the need of risking lives of the rescue team. You could incorporate SLAM to generate a 3D map that aids the robot operator giving them a better understanding of the scene. The same technology can also be used on a drone to quickly assess the damage of on site. How about firefighters? An autonomous drone for wildfire identification might be just the tool they need to work safer and more efficiently! AI-based image recognition would be the key feature making the whole project more accurate.


Data processing for hospitals

Patients’ data is very sensitive, as any personal records are, and for big healthcare facilities going through all of that can prove impossible. Without robust computational systems processing, storing, drawing conclusions from all of that requires the hospitals to outsource such tasks and that poses a threat of a data breach. Now that Deep Neural Networks are possible to use with minimal resources and infrastructure, the solution to that problem is at hand, patients will no longer have to worry about the security of their health records, and medical facilities will improve their workflow eliminating the middleman in the process.


Something different, please?

Ok, what if you really want to focus on comfort of life and, potentially, entertainment? You feel that there’s a shortage of appropriate solutions in that area and feel confident that, despite all the competition you should try and fill the gap nobody else has noticed? Sure thing, the following project suggestions are just for you.


Automate your office

Smart homes, smart offices, smart insert building type here are not something completely new, projects like Nest (a Google-owned smart home and IoT company) have been around for quite some time now. But a fully autonomous system to govern a whole building? We’re talking about a solution that does not require you to preprogram everything, we’re talking about an autonomous system that, thanks to deep learning, recognizes patterns of behavior in the office to best manage electricity usage, lower the costs, and improve security. Using cameras such system could detect whether there are any employees in a given room, and in case it’s empty lights, music, etc., can be turned off, all without human interaction. Checking attendance either by use of RFID or fingerprint scanners can be costly and is prone to errors. An employee might forget to swipe their card on a reader when let in by another person holding the door open for them. Humans find their ways around the systems like that, even if unintentionally. Monitoring attendance can be made easier thanks to facial recognition. No need to use any cards, no need to implement fingerprint readers next to each entrance, just let the employees walk in and out while computers do all the hard work, simple!


Filmmaking done easy

Don’t you just wish you could have the camera do all the hard work for you? A device that follows you when you climb a mountain would be a godsend, wouldn’t it? The technology is here, you just need to make a complete product out of it! Why not use AI, feed it with data from motion sensors, GPS, basically any data you can imagine that helps improve object tracking, and squeeze it all together in a box with small propellers? Exactly, make an autonomous drone! Such a project could take your vacation photos and videos to a whole new level, you would no longer need a person operating the drone, yet your lone adventures could be captured equally as effectively.


Put your feet up, enjoy your drink

Don’t you just sometimes find yourself comfortable in your couch watching a movie, everything is just perfect, but you realize you forgot your favorite beverage from the fridge? It’s a horrible experience, having to get up, walk to the kitchen, get back to your living room, find your comfortable spot again, nobody wants to go through that. Fortunately, using AI you can build an autonomous robot that does all of that for you! Just imagine, no need to get up, you just push a button and a friendly humanoid brings you a bottle of cold beverage for you to enjoy. How awesome would that be?


Sounds great, thanks!

Don’t thank us, thank the participants of the NVIDIA® Jetson™ Developer Challenge. It was them who came up with those types of projects, their creative minds found the ways of harnessing Artificial Intelligence to serve the public, to benefit all of us. All of the ideas were made into real projects during this artificial intelligence hackathon, and you can see them by clicking this link.



Finding a hackathon project idea might be a daunting task when faced with time restrictions of the challenge. We hope that with this piece you’ve found inspiration that will give you the push you needed to take sign up for a hackathon and conquer the world. We can help you find such event, just visit our website! Go out there, show everyone that your hackathon project ideas can change the world!