Chat bot crows loudest at Hackfest 2017
  • Thursday 30 November 2017

A locally produced chat-bot which keeps plants healthy has won Hackfest 2017.

Designed by Buderim brothers Corey and Jared Lehmann who received their prize at last night’s Hackfest awards presentation at the Hive Business Space, La’Verne the Sassy Fern allows users to obtain useful data instantly.

Jared said he and Corey were inspired to create a device which provides instant and useful information for everybody.

“This was our first experience at Hackfest and we’ve never really worked together on any project from start to finish, not since building Lego castles together as kids!” Jared said.

“We believe that for the average person, retrieving useful information from freshly gathered data is far too difficult. Not everyone is technologically minded and so logging onto portals, interpreting dashboards and interpreting data can be a pain in the neck. There needs to be a better method to present data which anybody can use – and that’s why created La’Verne.

“To demonstrate its application for the purposes of Hackfest, we developed a sensor array to monitor our house’s pot plant, La’Verne the Fern. Using these sensors, La’Verne gives updates every five minutes on temperature, humidity, light levels, soil moisture and CO2 levels.”  

“This platform can be used by any industry to engage its consumers, partners and customers to a greater degree with its day-to-day operations and data.

“We’re super keen to carry this idea forward so maybe once we’ve made a few tweaks to it and added a little more functionality we can look at deploying it in some local businesses, council, wherever we can get some interested people!” 

Now in its third year, Hackfest 2017 included over $45,000 in prizes across 11 categories. Participants once again had access to open data information from council as well as State and Federal governments to create a solution for an identified issue or problem on the Sunshine Coast – either now or into the future.  

Second place was awarded to the ‘PickMeUp’ app, which is designed to ease congestion during school pick up time by using geolocation of the parent’s phone as they enter the pick-up area to trigger a push notification to their child’s smart watch or device.  

For the first time in 2017, two prizes were awarded in a new Digital Art Challenge category. Both winning entries will be showcased at next year’s Horizon Festival. A three month paid internship prize with council’s IT team was also awarded to USC IT student Michael Lin Liu.

Economic Development Portfolio Councillor Stephen Robinson said this year’s entries once again demonstrated the quality and depth of talent on the Sunshine Coast.

“This is the third year of Hackfest and participants just continue to raise the bar in the innovations they come up with,” Cr Robinson said.

“To have this event where our sharpest minds and out of the box thinkers get an opportunity to come up with solutions to make our region an even better place is so exciting.

“One of country’s leading demographers Bernard Salt has described the Sunshine Coast as the future entrepreneurship capital of Australia and when you come to events like Hackfest you can really see why.”

Hackfest 2017 winners:

First: La’Verne the Sassy Fern – Corey and Jared Lehmann

Second: ‘PickMeUp’ – Tessica Dall & Katherine Gee

Third: ‘HealthiUp’ – Tim Eldridge

Smart Region prize: AR Mural – Art Trail

‘Internet of Things’ prize: La’Verne the Sassy Fern

Horizon Prize: WannaKite – Horizon Sync

Horizon Prize: AR Mural – Art Trail

Encouragement: Caiden Grambauer & Jack Ryan

Hackfest Hero: Geert Slachmuylder