Let Your Geek Flag Fly

By Gabe Brambila and Roman Smith
Jan 12, 2016 2:35 PM ET

“I created this app in a weekend.” “I used several of AT&T’s APIs.” “I coded in C++.” “I used Linux.”

Along with tables filled with empty Red Bull cans and people in pink onesies, those are just parts of conversations we heard this past weekend at the 2016 AT&T Developers Summit and Hackathon held in Las Vegas prior to International CES. To those who are not hackers (like us), the experience was definitely intriguing.

It was surreal to be in a room with people of all ages developing amazing solutions that can impact our lives using AT&T’s technology. We heard about apps that addressed air quality, predictive maintenance in homes, traffic flow in cities, recycling (one team built a robot recycling bin!), water conservation and more.

Collaborating with Hitachi Consulting and BSR, AT&T’s Citizenship and Sustainability team was able to have a presence at that hackathon like never before. This year, one of the challenges within the broader AT&T hackathon was dedicated solely to sustainability. Teams of coders had three minutes to fast pitch and demo their solutions. I am happy to say that 30 of the 150 teams – one-fifth of the total – qualified for the sustainability challenge, proposing some great ideas to tackle environmental issues. But since it was a hackathon, there could only be one winner of the $10K sustainability challenge prize presented by Hitachi Consulting.

Team Mirror Mirror took home the gold for their home environmental management system. Their concept tracks the performance data of water, energy and more in the home through an interactive dashboard that appears on a smart mirror. The smart home app also tracks environmental impacts, while suggesting behavior changes and making the information ubiquitous in the home.

Even more astounding, Mirror Mirror consisted of a group of friends and family – two of whom are 12 and 15 years old!

The hackathon was just the beginning of the experience. We had the opportunity to hear from AT&T leaders and other tech companies discussing solutions like AT&T’s smart cities platform, connected homes and connected cars. The integration of revolutionary technology from AT&T certainly demonstrates that long-gone are the days of “American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T)”.

Technology and its uses can be scary for some. We choose to look at advancements in technology through the lens of opportunity and pure amazement. Soon, we’ll see fewer traffic jams, and less excessive use of water and other natural resources. We will begin to say hello to the days of being able to remotely monitor the health of aging loved ones, having our homes connect to weather information to trigger energy controls, and creating new and innovative ways to deliver learning to classrooms. After spending time with developers and companies at the forefront of this revolution we can say that the future is looking bright, indeed.

Check out the full list of AT&T Developer Summit hackathon award winners here and take a look at other announcements AT&T made at CES here.