In-flight trip planner Destination wins first Hack Horizon

In-flight trip planner Destination wins first Hack Horizon

Technology that allows travellers to research and book activities and accommodation in-flight was named winner of the first Hack Horizon hack on a plane at 40,000 feet this week.

The 80-hour hackathon, which took place on a BA flight from Hong Kong to London Heathrow involved 32 developers, designers, and programmers from 12 countries.

They had been chosen to take part from 650 original applicants and after an initial scoping a pitching event in Hong Kong last Thursday formed eight teams to work on projects.

After arriving in London on Sunday a judging panel of industry experts including Glenn Morgan, head of digital business transformation at BA parent IAG, Chris Annetts, retail and service proposition director at Heathrow and Phil Donathy, vice-president product management at Travelport chose their winners.

The hack was also supported by Skyscanner, aviation technology firm SITA, Transport for London, Hong Kong’s MTR and Regal Hotels.

On Monday night all eight Hack Horizon teams were given four minutes to pitch their ideas and demo working prototypes of the applications they had built at the final hosted at the London Transport Museum.

In-flight trip planner Destinations was chosen as the winner with LuxExpress , an international personal shopping app aimed at the affluent southeast Asian market, named runner-up.

The winning team, which included an American, a Hong Kong Canadian who lives in a Taiwan, a Malaysian, a New Zealander resident in Singapore and an Australian who lives in Hong Kong, won BA flights to a destination the carrier flies to of their choice.

Savalas Colbert of the winning team said: “We don’t just want this to stop here. We are interested in building this and getting it out.

“We did this because we love travel and we came together as a team because we had a similar idea. We worked so hard on our presentation to get everything we wanted out of it. What we did was we studied a lot.

“We felt we at least wanted to come out with some sort of award, to come out with the top award was an honour. It was worth all the hard work. To win was awesome, but to win from among people who were selected to take part is especially awesome.”

Stephen Glenfield, head of digital at Heathrow, said the airport supported the hackathon because it needs to understand what technology can do for it.

“We always put passenger safety as our number one priority, so we probably do not innovate as quickly as others.

“This is the first time we have got involved in anything like this and what we have seen is a number of great ideas we could go forward with. Hack Horizon has brought true inventors from around the word to one event.

“The teams were asked some good questions by the panel of judges and maybe one or two ideas are not quite ready yet. But definitely one or two have the potential to go forward.”

Heathrow and Hong Kong airports worked together on the Hack Horizon hackathon and Glenfield said he hopes the partnership can continue.

“It was the first time we have come together to work on an event that’s mutually beneficial to both of us.

“I would like to see us work more with Hong Kong on different technology to see where the synergies are. It will help us to progress and do more with innovation.

“There are key themes around smart airports which we can both learn from.”

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