Amsterdam’s got the ITCH

On 8 and 9 April 2017, StartupAmsterdamMakerversity Amsterdam and Sensemakers put on a two-day IoT marathon dubbed the ITCH – the IoT City Hack. The event, which coincided with World IoT Day, brought together those at the heart of the scene to celebrate Amsterdam’s renowned ecosystem for tech and innovation startups.

Engaging Amsterdam visitors and locals

The brief was to prototype an awe-inspiring IoT-driven product, service or app that uses city data and lets visitors engage with the city. The winners, Joris Lam and Michael Kirsch of Ultra IoT, devised a prototype for a ‘smart beer sign’ that both monitors and reports on noise levels outside bars in city centres, tackling what is a significant problem in Amsterdam daily life. The device also includes a game in which revellers can ‘unlock’ special beers and offers as a reward for keeping the noise down.

For your city

Delving into an Amsterdam issue was an enjoyable task, said Lam: “It enabled us to rethink Amsterdam – the city we live and work in.” Now, they also get to take home the prizes: business mentorship by StartupAmsterdam, €1200 and a six-month membership at Makerversity. In addition, the judges of the contest have already opened some doors for them to pursue their project further, and the team are now looking for drinks brands to partner with.

The judges

The five judges declaring the winners were Ger Baron (CTO Amsterdam), Ruben Nieuwenhuis (StartupAmsterdam), Jasper Soetendal (Datalab), Iskander Smit (InfoNL & Thingscon) and Lennart Booij, who plays an important role in showcasing Amsterdam’s talent to the world, working with the Amsterdam Light Festival and the Stedelijk Museum. “If you open up Amsterdam for a hackathon like this,” he said, “a new world of combinations regarding connecting data, creative thinking and new opportunities for startups enters town.”

A close contest

The contest at the ITCH was no foregone conclusion, and the runners-up put up a good fight, showcasing the ingenuity, efficiency and creativity the Amsterdam startup scene applies to both problems and opportunities presented by their city. Ideas include a groceries-by-bike service named Trackbox; an Alexa-controlled information point built into to the existing fabric of the city; the Amsterdam Soul Quartet, ‘sonifying’ the city’s canals; and a new way of interacting with art on our streets that promises accessibility for all. Ways to continue support for these participants – who, after all, only narrowly missed out – are being explored in addition to developing the winners’ idea.