Oct 29, 2019

Get to know Penguin Bots, the winners of Global Travel Hackathon

13 locations, 250+ people, more than 50 teams all around the globe, and in most places, 24 hours of hacking. This is how we celebrated World Tourism Day at Kiwi.com.

Everyone’s eyes are fixed on laptop screens. From time to time, a team gathers around a whiteboard or a wall covered with post-its. They have quick brainstorming sessions and update their roadmaps. Some refill their tenth cup of coffee, some rely on RedBulls.

Everyone’s tired but still focusing hard. No matter if they’re sitting in a cosy coworking space in Barcelona, a technological hub in London, in Hong Kong or Taiwan.

Their motivation?

Everyone wants to make the world of travel more sustainable, more accessible and figure out how to support local communities.

Plus, they all can win €4,000 for their next travel, a weekend in Prague and a feedback session with Kiwi.com engineers on their project.

Connecting travellers with local music

In the end, twelve projects qualified for the final round of the hackathon. The winning one was developed by Elies Delgado and Oriol Nadal from Barcelona.

Elies and Oriol both love travelling. They’ll have a lot of opportunities to feed their wanderlust. The first prize got them €4,000 for their next travels.

They teamed up as Penguin Bots and together created a Chrome extension that supports local communities by offering travellers suggestions for concerts by local artists.

Their solution connects Kiwi.com’s API with SpotifySongkick and MusicBrainz. The extension activates when a user starts searching for a flight at Kiwi.com. Once you type in where and when you want to fly, it automatically starts playing music by artists from the destinations and suggests you a show you can attend while you’re there.

The Chrome extension connects Kiwi.com’s API with SpotifySongkick and MusicBrainz. It gets activated when you start searching for a flight at Kiwi.com. Once you type in where and when you want to fly, it automatically starts playing music by artists from the destinations and suggests you a show you can attend while you’re there.

David Pavlík, Kiwi.com’s chief information officer explained:

We were excited about Penguin Bots’ idea to connect travel and music in the pre-trip phase. We believe this can bring inspiration when searching for a weekend away or put you in the mood for visiting places far away. The fact that the team delivered a working solution within the given hackathon time and focused on simplicity convinced us that this should be the winner. At Kiwi.com we also look for unusual connections, through our virtual interlining algorithm, and then use just the right technology to deliver it to our customers.

Building a Chrome extension from scratch for the first time ever

Elies and Oriol both love travelling and as they explain, they are constantly trying to come up with new ways on how to use technology to enhance aspects of their daily routine.

When we found out about the hackathon we became very excited about the challenge of spending 24 hours working on a creative idea that used technology in order to make travel better,” Elies said.

Despite the four thousand euros they got, they’re not sleeping on their laurels.

With the feedback on our idea, we became very motivated and decided to continue working on it in order to be able to eventually publish it on the Chrome Store so people can use it,” they plan.

However, as you can imagine, the 24 hours wasn’t just rainbows and butterflies for them.

“We needed to learn how to build a Chrome extension from zero. We celebrated as a victory every little step we made towards building it: showing the icon of the extension in the Chrome menu, display a popup, being able to connect it to Spotify, …” Elies explains.

And of course, the lack of sleep had its effect.

We had some rather tough moments in which we realised we were not being very efficient: little obstacles became bigger challenges and it was more difficult to overcome them. However, we are glad we didn’t give up and managed to push until the end!

It definitely paid off. Look forward to seeing their extension in Chrome Web Store!

Meet the finalists: a platform with health advice, safe route home, and more

Other finalists included the winning teams from all the Global Hackathon locations, no matter if it was organised by Kiwi.com or our partners, such as GDG or SAB Aerospace.

Here are all the final projects (listed alphabetically):

  • Adventure Activities from Nicaragua introducing a list of Nicaragua cities with adventure activities to do there;
  • Airsplit Action app from Hong Kong that helps you split the bills on board;
  • a content platform askLiv from Barcelona, which gathers information for travellers based on their health conditions;
  • Am I safe? From Berlin providing realtime local news in a language the reader understands;
  • DotFlak app from London transforming a travel experience into the sound, allowing visually impaired people to experience the unique atmosphere of different tourist places;
  • the Drinking Water platform from Taiwan, which locates drinking water sources in cities in order to help reduce the use of plastic packaging in bottled water;
  • KiwiCab app from Belgrade simplifying the trip from an airport to accommodation;
  • Language Differences app for Google assistant from Bangkok helping foreigners with the local names of tourist attractions;
  • the LightPath app from London, which finds well-lit routes through cities that avoid dark pathways;
  • Petspensive app from Belgrade that gathers data about flight expenses when travelling with pets;
  • Penguin Bots; a Chrome extension connecting travellers with local music producers;
  • Siesta Radar from Brno proposed ski or rafting suggestions based on snow or river conditions provided by satellite data, combined with Kiwi.com’s booking API.

So you missed it…

If you couldn’t join us for the hackathon, don’t despair. You can still:

  • soak in the atmosphere thanks to an excellent sum-up video from London made by Eddie Jaoude

We’re looking forward to meeting you!

Hello from Barcelona!
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