A few weeks ago Simpleweb hosted its first ever all day hack day, exploring the future of chat.

The way we communicate has seen a huge shift in the last 20 years thanks to internet-enabled devices, but 2016 has been a bit of a game changer with the arrival of the messenger bot.

Bots are changing the way we communicate, not only with each other but also with our devices and the world around us. With this in mind, we thought what better time to explore the future of chat, automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and community.

Into the VR Cave: a Simpleweb hacker enjoying Opposable VR’s VR Cave

We opened up the challenge to anyone with an idea – regardless of whether or not they could code. Great apps aren’t just about technology and we didn’t want to limit ideas to just techies.

With homemade food, a DJ, a couple of talks and a VR Cave courtesy of the fabulous Opposable VR, there was no shortage of things to do. So, after a few short introductions to the challenge and our fantastic sponsors Twilio, Pusher and Marvel, we got to work hacking…


simpleweb-hack-day-future-of-chatIn the afternoon, talks by Twilio‘s Phil Nash and Pusher‘s Ben Foxall explored the value in building simple, effective prototypes.

Phil highlighted the importance of making prototyping fun again by keeping things moving quickly and keeping prototypes lean to stop people getting bored and losing focus.

Ben talked about the importance of simplicity and how building very simple products that can be expanded and reappropriated for different needs.

The Winners

With prizes available across 6 categories, the winners were:

    • Most innovative concept – Calaisboration: An app coordinating donations and volunteers at Calais Refugee Solidarity Bristol and other charities.
    • Most innovative tech hack – Twilio Box (joint winner): An app that aims to connect strangers by calling random phone boxes around the world.
    • Most innovative tech hack – Literate Giggle (joint winner): A crowdsourced storytelling installation that tells a story when devices are brought together.
    • Most absurd – What’s Up Bot: A Raspberry Pi robot controlled by polite human-language inspired code.
    • Most commercially viable – Mood Lighting: A revolution in home cinema, using Phillips Hue light bulbs to create ambiance when watching a film.
    • Simpleweb Prize (chosen by Simpleweb MD Mark Panay) – GitBot: a Slackbot that knows about git repositories and can respond to questions in plain English in Slack.
    • People’s Choice – Tunebot: A crowd-based collaborative pub quiz bot to inspire communication between strangers and friends in pubs.

You can find out about the hacks in more detail on the Simpleweb blog, or join the Simpleweb Meetup group to be among the first to find out about our next event!

Kylie Whitehead