Junction Tokyo 2019 — from idea to prototype in 48 hours — no excuses!
It is Friday night, just past 22:30h, on one of the artificial islands between the old Tsukiji market area and Odaiba. At an industrial looking building in Tokyo’s Harumi area, the room buzzes with excitement — welcome to Junction Tokyo 2019!
Originated in Finland in 2015, Junction has become one of the largest hacking events globally. Tokyo has its own edition since 2016, so this is the fourth local one, bringing together more than 250 people from 66 countries. Designed as an international hackathon — it brings together engineers, designers, students, and other interested people. This year’s edition has 3 different hacking tracks — AI for Humanity , API Hack and Smart Media. In 48 hours, participants work to create not only a new business idea but also build a fully fledged prototype leveraging not only its own coding power but also leveraging a full suite of API. Anyone who is interested in creating can join — it is not needed to have a team beforehand as you can meet people at the start of the event. to build not only business ideas but full fledged prototypes. In the end, there is a final pitch contest featuring the best 3 teams from each track with a winner for each track and an overall winner.
“Junction started with the vision of boosting innovation by empowering people to create with technology. We want to create an environment to foster innovation and want to kill any excuses that stand between an idea and a prototype.”
Shortly before midnight on Friday, about 40 teams are putting their heads together, discussing ideas and making the first sketches for their solutions. It is amazing to see such a great diversity of people gathered here. Some people have come from places as far as Iceland, Algeria or India — in fact there are about 50 % international participants. Also, contrary to many stereotypes, there are many women participating as well.
Chatting to overseas participants, they are surprised that almost all participants here are actually active developers who are brave enough to also take on the design and marketing challenges during this hack- “back home, about 50% of people have never written a single line of codes and support the developers with the marketing and design tasks.”
Fast forward to Sunday morning. People are coding away, and work on their pitches, demos and presentations. Support is plentiful — there are various experts ranging from API experts to mentors running a pitching clinic to make sure each team has the resources needed to ace their project. On midday, 10 minutes before the deadline, people are rushing to put the last ends of their projects together or are already practicing for their demo and pitches. But even after the countdown has ended with a thundering round of applause, there is no time to catch up on sleep — the demo expo round starts where the judges visit every project for a five minute presentation and demo. And not only the judges are making the rounds, but everyone is curious to learn what their fellow hackers have built. And finally, there is some time to just take a rest or catch some fresh air. Around 5pm, the 9 finalists are revealed and the crowd gathers in front of the pitch stage to see them battling it out in pitch-demonstrations.
While waiting for the winners — chosen by judges and the participants — some members of the global Junction family introduced the global junction event in Finland as well as the starting team in Korea, who are working hard to set up the first Junction Seoul event in May 2019.
Finally, it was time to announce the winners!
Grand Prize Winner: Hack English with YouTube — what if you can combine watching YouTube with learning English? Well, with this app you can as it provides transcripts to each video with the opportunity to just tap on any word to activate a pop up dictionary. You can then create vocabulary lists and more
AI for Humanity: Trackr — a search and rescue buddy powered by social innovation and AI. In crisis situations, if offers both the “searching” as well as victim side to find each other by simply uploading photos. The AI will match pictures and inform the parties- thereby preserving privacy.
API Hack: Hack English with YouTube
Smart Media: Trash Hunt — “I want to do my part for less pollution, but I don`t have time….” — get rid of your unwanted items by simply posting a picture in this app. It will create an automatic description and list it in a catalog that other people can search to get items for free- giving unwanted items a second life.
And there it was, an exciting weekend coming to a splashing close with with a well-deserved after-party. A big thank you goes to all the volunteers to organize such an amazing event and to the participants creating not only amazing projects but a great community.
See some more impressions from the weekend below!