Hack Day Awards – part 2

The Results of the OTA12 Hack Day

[hr]Audience Favourite

Sam Machin - photo credit Martin Cunningham

The winner of the Audience Favourite Award was Sam Machin for NS Tweet:

This is the twitter client MacGyver would use if he were stuck in a Hliton Hotel room with their expensive paid WiFi, or if he found himself in a repressive state that had blocked twitter access eg Iran, Syria, etc. 

I’ve written a server that allows you to send tweets hidden inside DNS traffic, most networks allow DNS to pass freely and due to the nature of the system it relays the request through various servers until it gets to the destination, now you can tweet with nothing more than an nslookup command.

I haven’t yet got receiving of messages working but that’s on the plan using TXT records so right now its sending only, also this is more of an API/Platform as I don’t have any pretty clients, but hey if you’re stuck in the desert with nothing more than half a hair pin, a rugby ball and a pay-walled wifi connection you can now tweet!”

Sam won a LEGO Mindstorm Kit, donated by LEGO.

[hr]Best in Show

Terence Eden - photo credit Martin Cunningham

The winner of the Best in Show Award was Terence Eden for Bletchley Sonata:

“Music of the spheres – a melodious journey through the environment. A piece of music so sumblime it defies all explanation!”

For samples of the music, listen to Jamillah Knowles’ interview with Terence Eden on the BBC Radio 5 Outriders programme (the last interview on the clip). Terence won a Raspberry Pi donated by Vodafone Group R&D.

[hr] The Bletchley Park Challenge

Bletchley Park award - photo credit Steve Karmeinsky

Team TACS ( Thomas Hopper) won  the Bletchley Park Challenge for his entry The Bletchley SMS Encryptor:

An Android App to allow the little ones to send encrypted text messages to each other and intercept them for code breaking. Two simple cyphers to use and try to break. Themed for Bletchley Park in striking orange.”

Thomas won a First Day Cover from the Bletchley Park Post Office, signed by Jean Valentine (one of the original Bletchley Park Wren’s) – donated by the Bletchley Park Trust.

[hr] The Secure Communications Challenge

HMGCC award - photo credit Steve Karmeinsky

Team DoTank (Phil Willoughby) won the Secure Communications Challenge for his entry Snique:

“I wanted to do something relevant to the location; so I have chosen to attempt to thwart part of signals intelligence, namely traffic analysis. As it’s often said: any idiot can invent a secure communications system that they cannot themselves break, so I look forward to one-day being told the flaw in this scheme.”

Phil has posted more information about Snique on his blog, including how it works, and has made the client demo available on Github. Phil won an engraved Motorola Xoom 2, donated by HMGCC.

[hr]The Facebook Open Graph Challenge

Facebook Award - photo credit Steve Karmeinsky

The winners of the Facebook Open Graph Challenge were Ali Bros & Dylan Jones for their entry Dude, Where’s My Car?:

“We’re making a web enabled car tracking unit. Using GPS and OBDII interfaces location and engine data are collected and sent to a web server over a 3G link using ARM’s mbed and the Vodafone 3G dongle. Facebook’s open graph is used to share the road trips and tag pictures or friends in each trip. we’re also hoping to use RFID for authentication and a color LCD to deliver a nice user interface to the user. Facebook enabled Android and iOS apps are also developed to provide access to the information on the go.”

Dylan has posted the App here. Ali and Dylan each won a Samsung Galaxy S2 , donated by Facebook

[hr]Honourary Facebook Prize

Kieran Gutteridge and Chris Ross each won a Samsung Galaxy S2 , donated by Facebook, for their “repair” work on the Facebook iOS SDK.  Check out their work on GitHub. (You may also want to check out Chris Banes‘ fixes to the Facebook Android SDK on GitHub)

[hr]The Vodafone Embedded Hardware Hack Challenge

Vodafone award - photo credit Steve Karmeinsky

The winners of  the Vodafone Embedded Hardware Hack Challenge were Ali Bros & Dylan Jones for their entry Dude, Where’s My Car?: “We’re making a web enabled car tracking unit. Using GPS and OBDII interfaces location and engine data are collected and sent to a web server over a 3G link using ARM’s mbed and the Vodafone 3G dongle. Facebook’s open graph is used to share the road trips and tag pictures or friends in each trip. we’re also hoping to use RFID for authentication and a color LCD to deliver a nice user interface to the user. Facebook enabled Android and iOS apps are also developed to provide access to the information on the go.” Dylan has posted the App here. Ali and Dylan each won an HTC 1 X phone, a k3770 modem, a SIM payt 20 credit, and an mbed, donated by Vodafone.

 

[hr]Dan’s Challenge

Ricardo and Elena receiving the prize from Dan & Lasse of LEGO - Photo credit Martin Cunningham

The winner of Dan’s Challenge was Team ET Bot (Blanca Tortajada, Elena Perez, and Ricardo Varela) for their entry ET Bot:

“We are on to take Dan’s challenge and build something that is a mashup of Social, Space open data and Lego Mindstorms! wohoo!”

Follow the ET Bot on Twitter. The team won a LEGO Mindstorm Kits, donated by LEGO.

Hack Day Awards – part 1

Best Science Hack

Paul Tanner with Jatrobot – photo credit Luis Abreu

The winner of the Best Science Hack award was Team Hyperiron (Hercules Fisherman, Paul Tanner, Sarah Mount & Nikita Korotaev) for their entry Jatrobot:

“In view of impending shortage of food, to build sustainability, we would like to deploy as many sensors as possible to get realtime feedback of plantation and the land they grown on.

We employ various mobile or stationary sensors to collect realtime data to a central server together with historical data that is collected along with other third-party data, such as weather forecasts, to determine or recommend suitable nutritional need at required resolution on the ground.The alerts can be sent via choice of methods SMS, email, twitter or Voxeo.

In time we would have historical analysis of the data where we could compare with other data collected and suggest best course of action, we would also take into account the weather forecasts for instance to plan watering level needed or nutritional values as we are sampling the time and location of the sensor reading this allows us to target more granular level possible. “

Hercules has posted more about Jatrobot on his blog, as has Paul on his blog, and their slides are on Slideshare.
The team won  LEGO Mindstorm Kits, donated by LEGO, and a Nokia Lumia 800, donated by Nokia.

Best User Experience

William & William – photo credit Steve Karmeinsky

The Best User Experience award went to Team Glitch (William Morland ) for his entry Pepin:

“There are glitches in the matrix all around us but so far there is no fun instinctive way to share them. If you see a funked up ATM then of course you want to tell your friends (and possibly the bank) but that isn’t a natural thing for a normal user and it certainly isn’t fun.”

William won a Blackberry PlayBook, donated by Blackberry.

 


Best use of Open APIs / Open Data

The Best use of Open APIs / Open Data award went to Team Glitch (William Morland ) for his entry Pepin:

“There are glitches in the matrix all around us but so far there is no fun instinctive way to share them. If you see a funked up ATM then of course you want to tell your friends (and possibly the bank) but that isn’t a natural thing for a normal user and it certainly isn’t fun.”

William won a Samsung Galaxy SII, donated by Samsung.


Best Android Entry

There were three winners for the Best Android Entry:

Tom Hume – photo credit Martin Cunningham

Tom Hume for It’s Good to Talk:

Phone calls are more than the sum of their parts: the act of making a call is a demonstration that you’re thinking of someone. Inspired by the Bob Hoskins-voiced BT adverts of the 1980s, this Android app does one very simple thing: whenever you phone one of your Facebook friends, it silently posts posts that fact onto Facebook. It’s either a public declaration of care that goes beyond just clicking “like”, or one step further towards a world without privacy, depending on how you feel about this sort of thing…”

Terence Eden for Bletchley Sonata:

“Music of the spheres – a melodious journey through the environment. A piece of music so sumblime it defies all explanation!”

For samples of the music, listen to Jamillah Knowles’ interview with Terence Eden on the BBC Radio 5 Outriders programme (the last interview on the clip). Team Intohand (Matt Rollings, Tom Durrant, Elliot Long and Kieran Gutteridge) for Live Quiz:

“The idea involves a general quiz game with a twist – it’s not just played in parallel with each person on a phone, but they are playing together, getting each question simultaneously, plus information about how the other players are doing on the same quiz. Entry into the quiz is as simple as scanning a QR code. It is a cross-platform app, running on iPhone, Android Mobile and Android tablet.”

Terence, Tom & Thibaut – photo credit Steve Karmeinsky

Each individual won:

 


 Best iOS Entry

The Best iOS Award went to Team SDK Dub Remix (Kieran Gutteridge and Chris Ross) for their entry Stop Blocking the Beats:

“Our survey says there is grave situation in the Facebook iOS SDK.  We hunted the native OTA Facebook engineers and once caught, we explained our thoughts in a highly pleasant and structured fashion. Voices were only raised in excitement and jubilation.  The result of the conversation with our now great mates, was a hearty challenge to look into solving some of our grievances. So we did.

Our course of attack was to boldly go, where no developer has gone before, and rewrite the Facebook client SDK for iOS. We have a readme at https://github.com/hiddenmemory/facebook-ios-sdk/blob/master/README.md which details the technical changes we have made. We did see Alice, she sends her regards.”

Kieran and Chris won the O’Reilly books: Programming iOS 5Building iPhone Apps with HTML, CSS and JavaScript , and Learning iOS Programming, donated by O’Reilly Media.

 


 Best Windows Phone Entry

Team Wendy – photo credit Martin Cunningham

The Best Windows Phone Award went to Team Wendy (Matt O’Keefe, Dexter Dillinger, Laura Sanders, Trent Walton, Claire Scantlebury, and Matt Hunt) for their entry How Many Beers:

“Track what your friends are drinking including measurements and the chosen consuming technique.”

Each team member received a Lumia 800 , donated by Nokia. The winning team also received the books Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Developer GuideProgramming Windows Phone 7 – Silverlight Edition, and Programming Windows Phone 7 – XNA Framework Edition,  Building the Real Time User ExperienceTapworthy, and Gamification by Design, donated by O’Reilly Media.

 


Best Game Entry

Dom & Heather – photo credit Martin Cunningham

The winner of the Best Game Award was Team Recently Engaged (Dom Hodgson and Heather Burke) for I Hope This Works:

“Conferences, Hack Days, Barcamps and other events where you need to get a bunch of people into a room and tell them to sit quietly whilst someone finds an mac connector for the right model.. no not that mac.. the latest mac.. anyway where was I?

Yes, We’ve built a hack to entertain and provide some must needed distraction for the audience throughout the day. If it actually works…”

Dom and Heather each won a Corona Pro subscription  (a value of $349 per year), donated by Ansca Mobile.

Best Use of Other Features: Bluetooth, NFC, RFID and of course Messaging

The winner of the Best Use of Other Features Awards was  Team Hyperiron (Hercules FishermanPaul TannerSarah Mount & Nikita Korotaev) for their entry Jatrobot (See the Best Science Hack award above for more details.)
Hercules has posted more about Jatrobot on his blog, as has Paul on his blog, and their slides are on Slideshare.
The team won a “Goodie Bag of Geekery”, which included a Crumpler bag, a mifi, a fitbit, solar charger & other small electronic gadgets like headphones, & healthy edibles – all donated by Blue Via.

Best Hardware Hack

Emily – photo credit Steve Karmeinsky

The winners of the Best Hardware Hack award were Team Umbicord (Sandor Toth) for his entry Umbicord:

“This project is a multiple development. Once you install the app on your Andorid phone, you are able to read QR codes. If you read the QR code, activity is generated on your Facebook timeline, and at the same time the server stores your QR code. An embedded controller polls the server via Vodafone 3G and makes your decision live (eg. switch on something).Where can it be successful? On events if you have a tilt with 3 different QR codes, symbolise 3 different activity or product. The visitor scans the QR code, creates social activity for the event and at your stand as well.
and Team Robohack (Emily & George Tilley) for their entry Fred:
“a 12 year old girl showed off her hack that used the light from an iphone to set off a robot to throw items (which amusingly flew into the audience and hit a few prime coders)” – Jamillah Knowles, The Next Web.
Each team member won a LEGO Mindstorm Kit, donated by LEGO, and share the O’Reilly books  Arduino CookbookMaking Things See, Make a Mind-Controlled Arduino RobotEnvironmental Monitoring with Arduino, and Getting Started with .NET Gadgeteer, donated by O’Reilly Media.

 


Best Mobile Web / HTML5 Entry

The winner of the Best Mobile Web Award was Threedom (Matt Oakes, Rob Douglas & Luis Abreu) for their entry Boot to Threedom:

“Making a simple 3-button interface for B2G”

Read more about the Threedom interface on which this hack was based on the Ribot blog.

 The Team won the O’Reilly books jQuery Mobile,  Mobile Design Pattern Gallery,  Designing Mobile InterfacesHTML5: Up and RunningHTML5 Cookbook, and HTML5 and CSS3, donated by O’Reilly Media.

Best Tablet Entry

The winner of the Best Tablet Award was Team QRtists (Tristan Roddis and Nigel Crawley) for their entry QR Codebreakers:

“Multiplayer game where players scan QR codes to reveal a scrambled word. They must then switch to ‘decypt’ mode and re-scan in the correct order to solve the anagram.”

Tristan and Nigle won the O’Reilly books iPad: The Missing ManualMotorola Xoom: The Missing Manual, and iPad programming , donated by O’Reilly Media.

The Vodafone Embedded Hardware Hack Challenge

Introduction

Over the next five years, we’re going to see a dramatic breakthrough in M2M applications as organisations realise the unheralded potential it represents for revenue generation and improved customer satisfaction. Vodafone is working in a number of business sectors in order to develop Global M2M Services to meet the demanding and unique needs of these businesses, who are looking for end-to-end device-managed connectivity and opportunities to improve business processes and generate new service and revenue streams.

The mbed Rapid Prototyping platform provides the tools for efficiently prototyping ARM Cortex-M microcontroller-based designs. The mbed Microcontrollers are a series of ARM microcontroller development boards supported by an online tools platform, which provide a productive environment to build projects with the backing of libraries, resources and support shared in the mbed community. mbed is a versatile platform that enables developers to rapidly build intelligent embedded projects, including ‘Internet of Things’ applications with a interface the physical world. http://mbed.org

The Challenge

Create the most innovate and cool embedded hardware hack. This hack should show how an embedded device can be used to connect some aspect of a users life more intuitively to them. It can use any embedded hardware on the market (preferably Mbed) and connect using any wireless or fixed line technology (preferably a GSM, GPRS, or 3G one).

The hack can connect:

  • embedded to embedded;
  • embedded to mobile; or
  • embedded to web.

Examples could be home control, energy saving by monitoring and control, industrial applications, generic cloud based asset tracking, home or industrial gateways and hubs, exposing UI’s of embedded devices for enhanced control, integration with CAN bus on vehicles, embedded safety equipment, sensor networks, telemetry tracking and activation or anything else you can imagine!

Get creative!

The Prizes:

The winning team will receive 2 x HTC One X phones, 2 x k3770 modems, 2 x SIM payt 20 credit, and 2 x mbeds!
 

PLUS! 

  1. Publication to developer.vodafone.com
  2. Publication to mbed.org

Inspiration

Nicholas Herriot, Vodafone Group R&D speaks about embedded devices

Written by john.wyer on date 17 May 2012 in Vodafone developer backstage.

On a recent visit to Vodafone UK HQ in Newbury Vodafone developer took the chance to catch up with Nicholas Herriot, Solutions Architect, Vodafone Group R&D. During the last year Nicholas has focused his work on embedded devices, energy and the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT).

See what Nicholas had to say below and checkout the short video interview I shot where Nicholas took the opportunity to demo some of his recent work here.

“It’s been a real eye opener to see advancements in micro controllers – and I believe the time is right in two areas for a new revolution which is silently taking place before our eyes.

Those areas being: Wide area connectivity and associated cost to the user. By most peoples standards it’s hard to deny that you can get connected to a network in most populated regions around the world.

The other big change is the relative cost of processors. And the saying “it’s as cheap as chips” really is a beautiful pun. Processor and transmitted ‘bit’ cost are now asymptotically heading towards zero.

For me that means the area of machine to machine (M2M) is now in a growth phase – and by that I don’t mean caused by government legislation, enterprise customers managing assets remotely or large corporations deploying remote systems – which is all true. I mean that this ecosystem is about to grow rapidly via work done by very small and medium sized companies and or individuals. We can see proof of that from the explosion of systems like Arduino – where in 2005 they started from ‘1’ to 2010 over 200,000 units per year.

There are some things that need to be in place to make this ecosystem fly in my opinion. You need to have:
1) A central place where everyone can get a coherent, managed and tested code base.
2) It needs to be open and community based.
3) It needs to grow and develop with that community.
4) In reliability it needs to be as good or better than commercially driven proprietary products.
5) Cost is a factor – it has to be very cheap.
6) In terms of connectivity – it has to be outstanding, it should just work and be easy to connect by what ever access technology.

I do not believe all of those issues have been cracked.  During the last year we have worked on Arduino and Mbed devices – evaluating and deciding what would be a good partner if R&D were to try and assist this community in some area. We decided to help provide and work on a software library for Mbed that would help developers connect those devices to our network.
Our work is not complete, however we are at a stage to show, build and demonstrate prototypes. In this blog article we have submitted a vide, in it we attempted and succeeded to build a functioning door access system using a smart phone, a COTS electronic door lock, a 3G dongle, an Mbed controller and associated power supplies. It took us 3 days to go from nothing, writing the code, acquiring components and showing the prototype. This would not have been possible even 5 years ago.

In the next six months we will be writing articles explaining how we progress with this – what we are doing – what API’s we plan on releasing – and release dates for the library.

We would like to hear thoughts from developers on what we are doing, how we are doing, what things we could do better and what other features we could add to this type of system to make it better for them in developing embedded applications.”

The Kirin Challenge

Introduction

Kirin is a second generation cross-platform toolkit for iOS and Android development.

Building mobile apps is what we do. As clients started to commission apps across iOS, Android, Qt, WebOS (RIP) and Windows Phone 7, we used PhoneGap, we played with Sencha and Titanium and we launched mobile web apps.  We had a few successes, but reached the conclusion that the first generation of cross-platform technologies have fundamental limitations:

  • Getting the desired level of polish can be hard work or just impossible
  • Mobile OSs have different UI patterns – we do not want the same UI across all platforms
  • Performance and/or app size are just not good enough

Kirin is based on a simple idea: sharing the app logic across platforms and build the UI natively. We achieved that by writing all the application logic in Javascript and running it within a hidden WebView. The advantages:

  • Build mobile UI with the best tools in the business (the SDKs provided by each platform vendor)
  • Let the OS handle device fragmentation
  • Enforce a cleaner business layer – presentation layer architecture
  • Reduce overall development effort

Tried and tested on our own skins, Kirin has been used to build apps for Orange (Glastonbury 2011), Lastminute.com and Domino’s Pizza amongst others. We open-sourced Kirin because we want to remain focused on our client work and believe that a wider community will enhance the toolkit faster and better than us on our own.

The Challenge

In 24 hours, write an Android or iOS app that uses the Kirin tools.

We will judge your entry based on:

  • size and complexity of the resulting app (i.e. the more screens the better);
  • number of APIs you glue together;
  • hilariousness of your presentation.

Serious extra points will be awarded to teams that build apps on both platforms.

Because this is a technology challenge, we would encourage you to use your hack to win other challenges (e.g. the Facebook challenge).

To win, we expect you’ll need a team of people:

  • a developer who knows what a UIViewController is;
  • a developer who knows what an Activity is;
  • a developer who knows what a node.js and npm is;
  • a designer who knows that back buttons are hard coded on some platforms.

Of course, we know that there are people out there who are able to do all these things, so if you’re a smaller team, then this will be taken in to consideration in the judging.

If you’re really keen, you can go look at some of the things that have started to appear on our documentation site. If you have any questions, drop us a line @futureplatforms or email us at info@futureplatforms.com.

The Prize:

An Amazon Gift Voucher worth £25 for each member of the winning team.

The Bletchley Park Challenge

Introduction

Learning is a large part of what happens at Bletchley Park. Visitors may not realise that our extensive education department welcomes schools, colleges and universities nearly every day. In our dedicated facility young people have the opportunity to learn about the history of cryptography, from the Caesar (or ‘shift’) Cipher through to today’s dual-key asymmetric techniques that we use every day of our lives, often without realising it.

As more and more children have access to smartphones and tablets, we have an opportunity to follow-up on these sessions with apps. Additionally, using mobile apps as an education medium means we can reach others that are not part of the education programme. Often a visit to Bletchley Park can be a little technical for the younger visitors. Sure they enjoy the toy museum and the model railways but often the ‘codes’ can go right over their heads. Wouldn’t it be great if we could appeal to them more at their level and help explain how codes and ciphers were used to keep secrets.

The Challenge

So, here’s what I’d like to see:
Devise a solution whereby one or more users can send ‘secret’ messages to each other using a dedicated BP-themed app. The cipher employed should be simple enough to be explainable and demonstrable to the user. For instance, a Caesar cipher (shifting the alphabet n places to the left or right) is simple to understand yet an effective cipher.

  • A form of communication network will be required. Use email or devise your own service as appropriate.
  • A user should be able to set the parameters for the cipher (as required by the cipher used) and encrypt a message
  • The message should be transmittable to another user
  • The recipient should be able to ‘guess’ the settings or the message content (or partial content – think Hangman) but not be told them, so if the sender wishes, they can reveal the setting or message.

What I envisage are parents being able to provide their children with the app at BP (although geo-dependancy would not be required) and the little ‘uns can have fun throughout the day sending secret messages to each other or their parents. In the process, the children learn a little about codes and are entertained.

The above is only a suggestion of how such an app could operate. Credit will be given for original thinking and ingenuity! It doesn’t have to be a Caesar cipher and indeed could be any form of game.

The only requirement is that it reflects on Bletchley Park in style.

If you have any questions, drop me a line via @mrpjevans on Twitter.

The Prizes

T-shirts for each member of the winning team from the Bletchley Park store (exact style yet to be determined).

Fancy a Turing Test challenge? Enter the Chatbot Battles!

Brought to you by Steve Worswick, frequent medal winner in the now-ended annual Chatterbox Challenge, this Challenge is not strictly-speaking a Turing Test as the entrants don’t have to pretend to be human, but they will be scored on how well they carry on a normal conversation. The competition is open to Android Apps but not iPhone Apps – unless you’d like to donate the man a phone!

Welcome to the first ever Chatbot Battles!

Ladies and gentlemen, grab your ringside seats and welcome to the first ever series of Chatbot Battles. Let’s get ready to rumble!

Chatbot owners from all over the world enter their creations for a knockout league to determine the winner. Each competitor must play each other in a league with the top entrants battling out in a one-on-one dual. Last bot standing wins!

Each match sees both chatbots either being asked the same 5 questions or having a free flowing conversation for 5 minutes. The winner is decided from their responses.

 

• Deadline to enter your chatbot: 1 June 2012
• League stage from: 11 June 2012 to: 25 June 2012
• Knockout stages start from: 26 June 2012 to: 11 July 2012
• Final result should be announced in July 2012

All bots are welcome to enter and test themselves against others, whether they be web based, downloadble, chatroom bots or even Android apps, sorry but we are unable to test iPhone apps – unless you want to send an iPhone along with your entry 🙂

Chatbot Battles are open to various kinds of chatterbots – Website Bots, Downloadable Bots, Chatroom Bots and Android apps – written in any programming language. Your bot only needs to be available so people can talk with it. Botmasters are invited to enter their bot and do battle with opponents from all over the world.

The Details:

Rules for entering are:

  • Only English speaking chatterbots are allowed to enter.
  • Only one chatterbot per person. This means you can’t enter different versions of the same bot.
  • Clones – you are free to enter any AIML, Personality Forge, MyCybertwin, INF.net bots and any other type of bot. However, if during a match, two bots produce exactly the same answer, neither will score a point for that question. This is to stop clones that have had no extra work carried out on them. The only exception to this rule is if the original bot (A.L.I.C.E., Ultra Hal etc) enters the contest. In this case, it will be awarded the point whereas the clone will score zero.
  • Accessibility – your bot must be easily accessible to the judges.
    • We can not accept bots that are only available on CD ROM. They have to be available to download on the internet.
    • We can not accept bots that require the judges to download a 3rd party chat program such as Mirc. Most instant messenger bots such as AOL are okay to enter.
    • We can not accept bots that require additional downloads of various programs that are not already install on Windows XP unless they are relatively small and easy to install.
    • We can not accept bots that are not online 24/7. With judges being from all over the world and in different time zones it’s not possible to schedule a time for judging.
    • If you are running some type of blocking filter on your bot to prevent user abuse it must be removed during judging or you must provide a method where the judge can re-establish contact instantly. If the judge can not complete the conversation, your bot will score 0 points for that match. Seeing how a bot reacts to foul language or abuse maybe a part of the judging process.
    • In short you are responsible to provide the judges with a bot that is easy to access or install.
  • There must be a way for the judges to copy and paste the output from each bot. This is especially important in speech-only bots. It is time consuming to judge any contest such as this and helping the judges to accurately record the responses is appreciated.
  • Bots created on Android apps are permitted to enter. These apps must be either free to download or a copy of the paid version must be accessible to us, either without us having to pay or by reimbursing us for the cost. Unfortuately, we have no way of testing Iphone apps. In the case of a phone app, it is not necessary to provide a way to copy the output but the bot’s responses must be visible on-screen and not just spoken.

Contest Calendar:
Deadline to Enter: June 1, 2012
League Stage: June 11, 2012 to June 25 2012
Knockout stages: June 26, 2012 to July 11, 2012
Announcement of Winners: July 2012

Prizes and Awards:
Unfortunately, as I have no sponsor and am not rolling in money, I can only offer the kudos of beating your peers as a prize and maybe a T-shirt, mousemat or similar gift. If anybody is interested in sponsoring the contest, please contact me.

Judges:
The judges will be selected from the general public to determine the winners in the contest. None of the judges will have a bot in the contest to ensure fairness. The judges will be totally impartial and fair to all entries regardless of the bot type or the owner. The judges will each be allocated matches to oversee and will be free to ask the bots anything they wish. If during a match, the bot asks the judge a question, the judge must answer it unless this goes to more than three questions in a row. Such tactics will be classed as stalling and the judge is then free to proceed to the next question without answering the bot.

Judging – League Matches:
A league match will either consist of a question and answer session or a free flowing conversation.

Question and answer match:
Each judge will pose the same five questions to the two competitors in each match and will score a point to the bot who in their opinion, gave the better answer for each question. Each question will be spelled and phrased exactly the same way to ensure that each bot gets an equal chance. At the end of the match, the points will be tallied up to find a winner. The maximum score in each match will be 5-0. All judge’s decisions are final.

Free flowing conversation match:
The judges will talk with both bots in the match for 5 minutes each. Any and all subjects may be covered. The judge will allow himself to follow the lead of the bot when necessary and will not be deliberately obtuse with the bots. Judges will be aware of the current state of AI and will converse accordingly. After the end of the match, the judge will decide which of the two bots gave the more convincing conversation and mark each bot out of 5. The chatbots are NOT expected to believe they are human. We are looking for the ability to chat not to try and fool the judges.

Judging – Knockouts:
The knockout stages will be judged as above but with 10 questions to each bot. This will continue until the semi-finals when there will be 15 questions. The losing semi-finalists will play an extra match with 15 questions to determine 3rd and 4th positions.

Questions:
1) The questions may contain typos to test the bot and internet slang terms like “lol” may also be used.
2) The questions will not be trivia like but reasonable in that an average person would be able to answer them. For example: “Who was Michael Jackson?” is good. “What is the population of Russia?” is bad.
3) As this is an international contest, the questions will not favour any particular country. For example asking a question about a certain country that only the people of that country would know. An example of this is “Who is the President of Finland?”.
4) Mathematical, logic, memory and reasoning questions may be employed. Examples of such questions are, “What is 6-2?”, “Can I eat a building?”, “I have a blue shirt. What colour is my shirt?”, “Joe and Jim are twins. Joe is 24 years old, how old is Jim?” and so on.
5) A question may just consist of a statement to see how a bot reacts in ordinary conversation rather than just being a question/answering program. An example of these are, “I went to the movies yesterday.”, “There is nothing on TV tonight.”
6) The questions will be posed in British English but if the judge deems a bot is having trouble understanding due to spelling, he/she may, at their discretion, pose the question in American English. An example is, “What is your favorite book?” instead of “What is your favourite book?”
7) Basically, anything goes. Each bot will be faced with the same input and so will face the same chance in each match as its opponent.

How the contest works:
Each entry in the competition is placed into a league table with at least three of the other entrants. The number of league tables and entrants in each will depend on the number of contestants. A typical league table will look like this:

 

Group A

P

W

D

L

F

A

Pts

Chatty Chatbot

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Testbot 123

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Chatter Bot

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Sir Talk-a-lot

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Blah D Blah

0

0

0

0

0

0

0


Just like the soccer World Cup, each bot will play against another bot in its group until all the entrants in each group have played each other. A match will consist of 5 questions. Both bots will be asked each of these questions with the one who answers the best, in the judge’s opinion, being awarded a point. If the answers are the same from each bot for anything except a general knowledge or a yes/no question, as they may be for A.L.I.C.E clones for example, no points will be awarded for that question. A typical match would go as follows:

Question 1: What is your name?
Bot 1: My name is Bot 1.
Bot 2: I do not know your name.
(Bot 1 scores a point for giving a correct answer. Score so far: 1-0)

Question 2: Do you like steak?
Bot 1: I like ice cream.
Bot 2: I like books.
(Bot 1 scores a point for giving a more relevant answer about food. Score so far: 2-0)

Question 3: What is a dog?
Bot 1: Dog: man’s best friend, a canine.
Bot 2: Dog: man’s best friend, a canine.
(No points scored. Although both bots were correct, they produced exactly the same response. The only exception to this rule would be if the original bot was taking part, as this is the original from which the clone was made. Score so far: 2-0)

Question 4: Jack is taller than Jim. Is Jim taller than Jack?
Bot 1: Who is that?
Bot 2: I do not know.
(Both bots got it wrong and so no points scored. Score so far: 2-0)

Question 5: What is the capital of France?
Bot 1: Paris.
Bot 2: Paris.
(Although they gave the same response, it was a general knowledge question and so both bots score a point. Final score: 3-1)

As in a soccer league table, 3 points are awarded for a win, 1 for a tie and 0 for a loss. The final result of the above match was 3-1 to Bot 1 and so that entry would score 3 points for winning the match. Bot 2 lost and receives no points.

These matches continue until everyone in each group has played each of the other members in the same group. The final table would then look something like this:

Group A

P

W

D

L

F

A

Pts

Sir Talk-a-lot

4

3

0

1

14

3

9

Chatty Chatbot

4

2

1

1

10

8

7

Chatter Bot

4

2

0

2

13

9

6

Blah D Blah

4

1

2

2

8

12

5

Testbot 123

4

0

1

3

2

16

1

 

The top two from each league table then go on to the knockout stages. The higest scoring runners up may also be included in the knockout stages if the numbers are not a power of 2 (4,8,16,32 etc). In the event of a tie, the number of points scored in all matches will be taken into consideration. If there is still a tie, the number of points conceded will be counted and if by some reason there is still a tie after that, the tieing bots will play a match between themselves to decide a winner.

The knockout stages continue in the same style as above but each match consists of 15 questions instead of 5. The winner will progress to the next knockout stage while the loser is out of the contest. In the event of a tie, further questions will be asked until one bot falters. Once the contest gets down to the final four, 15 questions will be asked in each round. The knockout matches will follow this style:

 

Quarter Finals (10 questions)

Semi Finals (15 questions)

Final (15 questions)

Contest winner

(1) Winner of group A

(5) Winner of match 1

(1) Runner up of group C

(7) Winner of match 5

(2) Winner of group B

(5) Winner of match 2

(2) Runner up of group D

Winner of match (7)

(3) Winner of group C

(6) Winner of match 3

(3) Runner up of group A

(7) Winner of match 6

(4) Winner of group D

(6) Winner of match 4

(4) Runner up of group B

 

There will also be a 3rd and 4th place play-off between the losing semi-finalists with 15 questions. The whole process should take around 1 month depending on the number of contestants but this time frame may increase or decrease.

Note:
The rules and guidelines may be changed at anytime to ensure fairness. It is impossible to forsee all the events that may arise during the contest so Chatbot Battles may have to make amendments to the rules to ensure the smooth running of the contest.