From fighting gas canister fraud, to saving trees and accelerating the smart car revolution, there was no shortage of big ideas at the first Sigfox Hacking House in Asia. 

As the latest Sigfox Hacking House competition wrapped up at Taiwania Nest, Taipei and the four competing teams presented their projects and solutions, it was clear that big, real-world problems had indeed been tackled. From stopping LP gas cylinder fraud to diagnosing palm tree infestations, this year’s Hacking House certainly ignited imaginations.

This new Sigfox Hacking House event was held in Taipei between March and June of this year with the support of UnaBiz, and was hosted by the Industrial Development Bureau in digiBlock. It culminated in the teams presenting their IoT solutions and prototypes to a jury led by Taiwan’s Digital Minister Audrey Tang, along with an audience of more than a hundred entrepreneurs, investors, project partners, senior government officials and journalists.

Minister Tang attended the final presentations, showing support for the project and talking about the power of technology to strengthen democracy. Teams were judged on their research, creativity and business models and although a winning team was chosen on the 11 June, and prize money duly awarded by ex-French Minister Fleur Pellerin, (a total of 100,000 Taiwanese Dollars across the teams), all the participating teams now have the opportunity to develop their start-ups and take their products to market.

They do so with the support of Sigfox’s global network of incubators and accelerators, along with its innovative IoT technology and 0G network, which reaches a billion people in +60 countries. They also receive support from the project’s commercial and academic partners, including French Tech Taiwan, Jorjin, Industrial Development Bureau, Mighty Net and the National Taipei University of Technology (see full list below).

The three runner up teams presented prototypes to help save palm trees in Abu Dhabi (Palm Sense), keep fire extinguishers in France from expiring (Fire Extinguisher Maintenance) and alert owners and insurers to car maintenance needs to reduce the risk of failure (Urban AI). But this year’s winning solution went to team Pacho, who designed and 3D-printed a smart clamp that helps authorities identify LP gas cylinder fraud in Malaysia.

During their Demo Day presentation, the team explained that government subsidies mean companies and households pay different rates for gas tanks. This leads to fraud, which ranges from small business owners buying tanks at cheaper residential prices to organised crime syndicates that siphon privately purchased gas for resale.

The team’s tracker, which is clipped onto the neck of the cylinder, allows it to share its location, or ‘daily heartbeat’, and to send an alert if the tank is turned upside down – a technique used to transfer gas between canisters. It’s tamperproof, waterproof and shockproof. As data is collected, algorithms can also start to find patters that can help predict or catch fraud early. According to team Pacho, this technology can be applied to other cylinders, containing anything from oxygen to beer.

The next edition of the Hacking House Taipei supported by Sigfox and UnaBiz will open in the fall of 2019. Check https://thehackinghouse.com/ for more information.

It was a joyful journey to be a part of Hacking House,” said jury member Amanda Hsu, Head of Product Solution at Shape prototype, “where real-life potential business opportunities were given to hackers and dreamers to build something from scratch. We witnessed how they turned ideas into physical prototypes using Sigfox technology – in less than three months! I look forward to the next programme.

Sigfox’s Chief Adoption Officer, Raouti Chehih, also commented on the energy generated during the competition and urged teams to push further and go to market. “The event is a win-win for all involved, with attendees benefiting from access to Sigfox technology, mentoring from our most experienced technologists, and the chance to network with industry contacts… as well as the best and brightest academics, students and professionals,” he said. “What’s most rewarding of all is witnessing how IoT technology and young people’s’ energy and creativity can be combined to address and solve real world problems.

Philippe Chiu, Chief Technical Officer and Co-Founder of Sigfox’s local operator UnaBiz, gave a fitting sign off for the teams. “I would like to thank all the dreamers,” he said. “You guys are survivors. You guys really rock!”.

Partners and sponsors included:

Business Next; digiBlock, SlingX, Fablab Taipei; French Tech Taiwan; Industrial Development Bureau, Jorjin; Mighty Net; Soracom; STMicroelectronics; Taiwania Capital; UnaBiz; Zyxel Foundation, Bureau Francais de Taipei, TRiPLE

Academic partners included:

National Cheng Kung University; National Chung Hsing University; National Taipei University of Technology; National Taiwan University of Science and Technology; National Tsing Hua University; National Yang Ming University; National Chiao Tung University; Tamkang University

The jury:

The jury was led by Taiwan’s Digital Minister Audrey Tang.

Members included:

* Raouti Chehih, Sigfox

* Philippe Chiu, UnaBiz

* Amanda Hsu, Shape Prototype

* Laetitia Lim, Quividi

* Greg Hao, MIXI

* Bruce Bateman, Liteon

* Mr. Huann-Shiuh Shy, MOEA

* Rosa Cheng, Taiwania Capital