An open-source framework, cloud security, a common operating model, and 3D model visualization and collaboration for the warfighter—these were the challenges presented to participants of the Oct. 23-25 Tampa Hackathon.
Hosted by Military Open Source Software (Mil-OSS) and the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) as well as sponsored by USGIF and a number of other organizations, the first Tampa Hackathon was held at SOCOM’s SOFWORX collaboration facility in Tampa, Fla. Twelve teams participated in the quest to build a technology answering one of four challenges within a 48-hour time period.
Jeff Young, vice president of Marjau Systems and founder and steering committee lead for the Mil-OSS Central Florida Chapter, said there was great participation from industry and academia, including the University of Tampa and The Iron Yard coding school.
“We gathered real-world challenges SOCOM is wrestling with and presented them to participants to solve,” Young said.
Team SHUDDER, a four-person team representing ISPA Technology, won first place in the hackathon with its augmented reality headset.
“We thought it would be fun to build something that was outside the norm of what we do on a day-to-day basis,” said Michael Grochol, a member of Team SHUDDER and a principal and senior partner at ISPA Technology. Grochol is also a member of the USGIF Board of Directors.
Grochol described the team’s technology as a more advanced version of Google Glass built for soldiers. Named Simulated Heads-Up Display Driving Educated Reactions (SHUDDER), the technology is an open-source solution designed for a Special Forces operator to wear on the battlefield. The heads-up display gives the user positional data for direction, location, and distance. Using the device, users also have the ability to see objects behind walls and know their approximate location.
“The hackathon was intense, fun, and amazing,” said Sean Jordan, member of Team SHUDDER and a principal software engineer at ISPA Technology. “The challenges were across several different disciplines with a lot of opportunities to do something innovative and fun.”
Each member of Team SHUDDER received an AR Quadricopter. Following the hackathon, the team was invited to present its technology to SOCOM’s chief engineer for its Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit program.
“This was an awesome experience and I can’t wait to be involved with the next [hackathon],” said Nathan McEwen, Team SHUDDER member and a senior software developer for ISPA Technology. “I think Mil-OSS did an awesome job engaging the local community with interesting problems that many have not seen before.”
Mil-OSS plans to host another hackathon during SOCOM’s Special Operations Forces Industry Conference May 24-26 in Tampa.
“It was an overwhelming success,” Young said. “We’ve never organized a hackathon before so it was a challenge, but we had a significant amount of participation from the GEOINT Community, showcasing the best and brightest minds in Tampa. A student participating from the University of Tampa was even offered an internship from SOCOM. Again, an overwhelming success and it was great to be apart of and produce something for SOCOM.”
Photo Credit: Michael Grochol