FIRST-EVER HACKATHON FOR CONNECTED AIR FRESHENERS
Twenty-four stellar teams, composed of over 100 developers, entrepreneurs, designers and students competed in this past weekend’s first ever Febreze Home Hackathon, sponsored by Procter & Gamble. The ‘hackers’ ranged in experience from Silicon Valley veteran developers to middle and high school students. Most of the participants had never met before and coalesced into teams after the hackathon began Saturday morning.
P&G’s first-ever hackathon was co-sponsored by Arrayent, Google, Nest, Amazon Alexa, and Xerox Parc. As the IoT cloud behind the Febreze Home connected air freshener, Arrayent provided members of its engineering team all weekend to help hackers access the Arrayent EcoAdaptor framework and Febreze Home device API. Many products and APIs were provided by the other co-sponsors including: 1) Google Home personal assistant, 2) Nest learning thermostat and Nest Protect smoke/CO detector, and 3) Amazon Echo with with Amazon Alexa personal assistant and Amazon Web Services. Coding started at 11:00 A.M. Saturday morning and ‘code freeze’ was called Sunday at 1:00 P.M. with many of the teams working throughout the night to complete their projects.
THE GOAL: TO DISCOVER A DIVERSITY OF USE CASES
The Hackathon challenged teams to envision new ways to “personalize your home, your scent, and a whole lot more” using the Febreze Home connected air freshener/odor eliminator (www.febrezehome.com). Febreze Home is a unique connected device that accepts standard dual-scent Febreze scented oil cartridges and features WiFi connectivity, motion and humidity sensors, multicolor pathway/night lights, and companion mobile apps for iOS & Android smartphones. Mobile features today include manual control of regular or boost modes, selectable night light (time-based) or pathway (motion-based) lighting control, and monitoring of cartridge oil levels with push notifications/one-touch reordering. Febreze Home also supports interoperability with Nest thermostats and Nest Protect smoke/CO detectors to provide automated on/off/boost control based on Nest thermostat home/away status, plus pathway light alarms through integration with the Nest Protect smoke/CO detector. At the CES show in January, P&G demonstrated the Febreze Home working with Amazon Echo/Alexa and Google Home which has not yet been officially released.
The hackathon’s goal was to enable discovery of a wide diversity of use cases by providing access to these rich product attributes through Arrayent and other co-sponsor APIs. This emboldened developers to envision, ‘hack’ together, and demonstrate their work to a panel of judges who were drawn from technology and business thought leaders at P&G, Arrayent, Google, Nest, Amazon, Tandem Capital and Xerox Parc. The Grand Prize winner was chosen from a group of six finalist teams who advanced from the first round review of all 24 teams. Judges awarded up to five points each for 1) simplicity of use, 2) solution creativity, 3) impact to the world and 4) UX/UI design. Winning team members all received a ‘Scentificate of Awesome’ plus cash, product or other awards at different levels.
AND THE WINNER IS…
The Febreze Home Hackathon Grand Prize went to team ‘Amelia’ who conceived, developed and demonstrated an immersive app that enabled users to transport themselves virtually to different destinations around the world through immersive visuals and sounds and by controlling scents, humidity & temperature using the Febreze Home, Nest learning thermostat, Google Home, and a hacked vaporizer. The team took home $5,000 in cash, multiple Febreze Home devices, P&G Swag Bags, and the opportunity to have a dedicated mentor session with P&G experts.
The other five finalist teams were:
‘SmellScape’ – a team that developed a voice-controlled interactive adventure game called “Follow your nose” that used Febreze Home in an innovative and engaging fashion to provide scent-based gameplay. The team won the ‘Most Innovative Prize’ and one of two summer internships awarded by Xerox Parc.
‘VR-cation’ – who devised an immersive multimedia/multisensory vacation experience using scent, sound and virtual reality. The team won the “Best Use of Amazon Alexa” award and received an Amazon Echo for each team member.
‘Desmokify’ – an industrious team comprised of eighth grade and high school students who developed a solution to detect non-life threatening (aka: stinky) smoke using the Nest Protect smoke/CO detector and combatting the smell with Febreze Home controlled by Google Home. This team captured the hearts of the attendees and the attention of the Nest judge who awarded them ‘Best Use of Google Assistant or Nest API’ award. Each team member went home with the Nest product of their choice and bragging rights over their classmates at Adrian Wilcox High School in Santa Clara.
‘Scentsational’ – whose team members came up with a unique ‘stress management system’ that they positioned as “sitting at the intersection of IoT and the quantified self.” It monitored a person’s stress level throughout the day based on their heart rate from any number of wearable monitors and would deploy an appropriately calming or energizing scent from the Febreze Home when the Google Home detected the user had arrived home. Another application they mentioned was scent-based memory support for dementia patients.
‘Amiscent’ – another team of high school students, conceived of and developed an app that detects people’s emotional state by analyzing the voices in an environment. The app boosted an appropriate scent from the Febreze Home depending on the need. If anger or elevated stress was detected, the Febreze Home would deploy a calming scent. If waning energy was detected, it would deploy an energizing scent. Their solution was aimed at real-world situations such as domestic violence that might typically start with elevated and agitated voices, potentially calmed by the right scent. Wow, here was a team that should make everyone proud at Henry M. Gunn High School in Palo Alto.
Two other teams also walked away with prizes:
‘Ailuros’ developed a pet odor mitigation solution using sensors, Febreze Home and Google Home. One of their team received the second summer internship awarded by Xerox Parc for being “Most Innovative.”
‘Scentification’ won The Arrayent Challenge and $2,500 for “Most Innovative Interoperability.” This group developed a scent-based calendar reminder solution that notified users by way of their olfactory and auditory senses via Febreze Home and interoperability with both Google Home and Amazon Alexa.
DIVERSE IDEAS COME FROM DIVERSE TALENT
We asked a few Arrayent managers what they thought of the event:
Jarrod Sinclair, Chief Architect at Arrayent who also served as one of the Hackathon judges, said, “It was really exciting to see the level of enthusiasm, dedication and professionalism that all the teams exhibited in approaching the challenge. There were a lot of innovative and cool ideas, and many that required a very sophisticated level of knowledge and experience to execute on. We applaud them all!”
Peter Radsliff, VP of Marketing at Arrayent said, “It was great seeing a hackathon not only focus on the technical aspects of making gadgets work, but to encourage developers to imagine how technology can make products and people’s lives, better. That said, the level of technical know-how that was demonstrated at the Febreze Home Hackathon was truly inspiring.”