Hack(athon)ing at Ripple

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On the evening of Thursday, July 18, while folks across SF headed home from their work day, us Ripplers stuck around to commence the first-ever Ripple hackathon. This was an opportunity for us to build practical apps and tools based on the XRP ecosystem's open-source technology. Ripplers from across the company (and timezones) brainstormed projects that would leverage Coil, Interledger Protocol or XRP Ledger. We competed for the below accolades with top prizes including XRP and Oculus Rifts.

  • Best Overall App
  • Best Consumer Use Case
  • Best Enterprise Use Case
  • Best Hardware Hack
  • Best Internal Tool
  • Best UX/UI Design

At 6pm, we dispersed into conference rooms and started hacking. Some Ripplers started whiteboarding use cases and product strategies; others started coding from the get-go; still others started tinkering with the Arduinos, Raspberry Pis and Ledger Nanos that were provided as part of the hackathon. Despite the fact that it was a competition, the vibe remained highly collaborativewe assisted each other on presentations, debugged issues together on Slack, and some generous Ripplers even contributed code to multiple teams. As the hackathon wore on, we started to follow a pattern of working and breaking at the kitchen for snacks, caffeine, and stories. Some of us went home while a hardy few stayed in the office through the night and into the next day.

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We finished hacking at 3:30pm on Friday, July 19, then we convened in the all-hands space to share our work with the judges. Wired on caffeine and excitement, teams pitched and demoed the impressive projects they built in only 24 hours.

Here’s a sampler of the awesome hacks, as described by their creators:

Team Barbot (Best Hardware Hack)

Have you ever had to fight through crowds to get the attention of your bartender? And then afterwards, did you wait for what seems like decades for the bartender to make your drink? Well, wait no more. We created BarBot – a personalized smart bartender that accepts cryptocurrency. The user would send a tip of XRP by scanning the address displayed as a QR code on the BarBot. Once paid, BarBot would perfectly concoct your desired cocktail within a few seconds using its pre-programmed library of recipes. We hope this project doesn’t end here. In the future, we plan to incorporate Amazon’s Alexa voice controls to verbally order drinks from your smart BarBot. Furthermore, we plan to attach wheels to the structure to mobilize the BarBot so that you may summon and have delivered perfectly proportionate cocktails wherever you are.

Team AQFR (Made by interns!)

AQFR is a tool we created that allows for instant, secure transmission of verified information. Things like a birth certificate, medical records, passport, ID, school transcripts, and driving records could all be stored in a secure way and shared with anyone, anytime. For example, if you lived in Seattle and wanted to rent a house in Sydney, today you’d probably have to start an email exchange with your workplace or visit your bank to retrieve the documents required in the tenant application. With AQFR facilitating this verified information, you could send multiple landlords your required information in a matter of seconds. This tool also has a useable and easy UX that acts similarly to a messaging service so that it would be as easy to send your prescription to a pharmacy as it would be to send a text to a friend. We believe AQFR can be used for many purposes and by utilizing the XRP ledger for PKI and channel symmetric key exchange, we have created a secure way to quickly send verifiable information.

Team Codius v2 (Best Enterprise App)

We created a royalties platform for applications and their open source dependencies, called Codius v2. For context, Codius, at its heart is a peer-to-peer hosting protocol built on the XRP ledger. You can build decentralised applications and smart contracts that can pay you via the XRP ledger when users use your application. Codius v2 presents a buffet of Codius apps for users to try on; if you don’t like the application or it doesn’t suit your requirements, just try another – you only pay for the time you spend using it. While Codius grants the ability for users to pay application authors, Codius v2’s payment engine not only pays the author of the app but also the author(s) of the app’s underlying dependencies. Every time a library is used by someone’s app, all developers that contributed get paid a small royalty (even if they don’t know the app itself even exists). Furthermore, if someone fixes (or enhances) said library, then they too get a small share of the royalty. With Codius v2, we have just made it financially worthwhile to bug fix open source code on a global scale!

Team Iceberg (Best UX/UI)

We created Iceberg to use the XRP ledger to explore the microfinance concepts of rotating savings and credit associations (ROSCA) and income sharing agreements. In particular, we used the XRP Ledger API (ripple-lib) to enable users to save funds into a community pool from which they can vote to devote a portion of that pool to an escrow account. For example, imagine that your family is scattered across the world. You’ve got a newborn relative and the entire family wants to contribute to their college savings. Although each family member is able to save money in a local bank in their native currency, existing payment institutions may not enable savings across many different currencies in the same fund. With Iceberg, your family can contribute XRP to a community pool and vote to hold a portion of that pool in escrow, to be accessed by your newborn relative when he comes of college-age.

Although the hackathon ended, the ideas that came from it sparked new projects, friendships and lessons. One thing’s for sure: we are DEFINITELY doing this again!