Hackers will take over Helsinki with a little help from us


We are in, but why?

You might be wondering why (a little bit old school) an outdoor advertisement company would take part in a hackathon? Is it not actually a bit risky to take part in an event full of hackers and give you an access to our media space in the center of Helsinki? Well maybe, but since we are interested in seeing how future’s technology will connect citizens and advertisers, it is definitely worth the risk!

And then what? How are we in?

So what are we actually doing at the Junction 2015 Hackathon? We are bringing a digital outdoor advertising screen to the event. You can play with it, you can test your content and you can create whatever you like for it. You will also see your outcomes right away on a bigger screen. And the best part is that the best hack (or hacks) will be presented at one of the busiest tram stops in the heart of Helsinki. We are building a special Slush tram stop with two digital screens, and your stuff will be on it! main-image

What might we see in Junction?

Future cities, health and future’s air travelling are some of the Junction themes. To help you come up with a hack idea, here are some examples of what kind of content you could build with some of the Junction partners and our digital screens.

Reminding people to help people in need

Using data from an existing online source or from your own server is one of the easiest ways to create data-driven digital out of home (DOOH) advertisement. For example, the Finnish Red Cross advertises in our digital panels in trams and metros when they need blood donations. The screens (or actually the server running the ad) get the data in real time from the Finnish Red Cross database and show all the different blood types so that people can see what blood types are needed. It is a very clever and easy way to remind people of the importance of donating blood.

Events take over the whole city

What will digital out-of-home (DOOH) look like in the future? We believe, that interactive, location driven and “mobile-connected” campaigns will be commonplace. One example of an interactive DOOH campaign is the Living Art Map. In this award winning campaign, digital out-of-home advertising screens showed a realtime heatmap of the locations where people downloaded the Night of the Arts application. The campaign was broadcast on digital screens around Helsinki during the event itself. main-image

Excited as a kid when seeing an airplane flying over

There have been a number of campaigns that have utilized weather data. When the weather sucks you definitely dream about being somewhere else, so seeing a relevant (e.g. travel) out-of-home ad when you walk in the rain is a pretty good idea. But even cooler is the way that British Airways used DOOH. The billboard showed a kid pointing at a plane every time a real airplane flew over the billboard. The ad showed, in real-time, the actual destination of the specific plane flying over the billboard. As part of the technical solution, weather data was used to make sure that the plane would be visible to someone standing near the billboard.

See you at Junction!

Junction 2015 is just around the corner! We will bring you a big digital screen to play with and create new ideas and concepts to take to the streets of Helsinki. We look forward to what you will come up with – see you there!

Air travel needs the window seat


Remember the days when air travel was all glamour, beautiful air hostesses and PanAm’s wonderful advertising? Well, the world has come a long way since. And yet, as passengers - we do not really seem to be getting the same joy out of the experience.

In an environment as complex as the air travel ecosystem, where safety is top priority - and fragmentation is the norm, innovation can be tough going. Stakeholders come in the shape of airlines, travel agents, technology providers, tour operators, independent booking engines and many more, which means that the passenger experience is far from seamless.

So, where to begin if one wants to change the industry? There is no right or wrong answer, so we believe the best way is to just get started.

Thanks to some of the fantastic work Finnair and Reaktor have carried out together over the last year or so, the idea of bringing the world’s top talent to create their very own vision for the future of the industry came about. Our resolve was further strengthened by adding an invaluable partner in Finavia, and what a few months ago was a mere idea out of left field, is just about to become a reality.

You see, we are of the belief that air travel as an industry can very much benefit from taking a look out of the proverbial window. Although cross-pollination of ideas and innovations is true and valid across many industries, air travel has remained introspective to its own detriment. We live in a world where airlines are forced to play catch-up with increasingly tech-savvy and empowered travellers in a difficult economic climate. All the while trying to protect their business and trying to carve out whatever possible from minuscule profit margins.

Enter you, the hackers.


You guys are in a privileged position. Not because you will be joining the hackathon (that would be small-minded of us), but instead, you are in a privileged position because history has shown us time and time again that; when key players in an industry, technology providers and hungry people ready to make a difference get together - great things are bound to happen. You are privileged because you belong to a very small group with the tools, knowledge and opportunity to make a meaningful difference in one of the world’s biggest industries.

So, to set the tone and get the engines started - below are just a few unstructured thoughts we have been having about the industry, to give you some inspiration. The first piece of advice we would like to give you is, do not be afraid to think big. Our panel of judges will be looking at your code, of course - but we are also looking to judge you on your vision:

  • Air travel is perceived as a ‘caste system’: Have you ever thought what would happen if you built technology that would encourage the industry to do away with the traditional model of First class, business class Vs everyone else?
  • Redefining loyalty programs: There is much that airlines can learn from gaming companies. How would you design a fairer, more engaging and meaningful loyalty program experience?
  • Simplify booking: The average person in Germany spends 30 + hours booking travel. Can you come up with the next big service for people to book and buy travel?
  • Ancillaries done right: If you’re a service designer you’ll love this! How can airlines sell additional services and products throughout the travel experience?
  • Educate vs entertain: In-flight entertainment is a key differentiator for many airlines. Can you create a great way for young travellers to not just be entertained, but also learn during their journey?
  • Airports are emotionally-loaded environments: Airports are as much a part of the experience as planes themselves. How would you enable new and interesting interactions within this environment?
  • What happens in a plane stays in the plane: How would you go about creating a more meaningful relationship between travellers and the airline? One that extends beyond the confines of an aircraft cabin or a flight, for example.
  • ‘Onboard-first’ design: Remember when ‘mobile-first’ design first became a thing? We are looking for unique experiences that are designed specifically for an onboard experience.

Happy hacking!

Yours in travel,

the .AERO crew

Finnair, Reaktor, Finavia


The most exciting project I’ve been a part of

When we started FutuLabs here at Futurice, the idea behind it was that if we want to do new and exciting projects, we need to know our way around new and exciting technologies. Our clients trust our technological expertise, and for that we need to get our hands on the latest gadgets as soon as possible.

The solution was to just do it and thus FutuLabs was born.

Like most things we do here, we started out lean, got our hands on some of the most exciting gadgets we could think of (that could potentially be used in projects in the future) and started playing around. It seemed like a fantasy that we would actually get paid to work with these things, but that is precisely what happened.

A future panorama

Early this summer we had an opportunity to talk to a Finnish financial institution about a new space they were planning. The space would have a strong focus on new technology, so it was a perfect place to explore what the future of real estate and financial services could be like. Our clients welcomed the chance to come to our office to see and hear our ideas.

We prepared some demos using the Oculus Rift virtual reality glasses. The demos were focused specifically on building and real estate applications, but we couldn’t pass up the chance to show them a roller coaster. The demos were a huge success and thus began the first project to come out of the FutuLabs initiative.

After investigating different alternatives, we decided that we would film a spherical panorama of a number of apartments and show these in this new space using the Oculus Rift. First order of business: Buy 10 GoPro cameras and a 3D printed array to hold the cameras pointing in every direction.

Unexplored territory

Usually we start a project by setting up the build environments and CI machines. Not this time. The first weeks of the project were full of unpacking and building. Filming, configuring, video editing and more filming. Turns out stitching together ten video streams into one perfect spherical video is not a trivial task and there are no npm packages for this (yet).

As we had the privilege of hosting the June HelsinkiJS event here at our Helsinki office that became one of our first test videos. One battery was DOA and one camera was set to the wrong mode which meant that a small portion of the space is not in the video. This is why we test early and iterate. Still, not a bad first try. Check out the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhRg4Woc9Fs

At this point we really started to see how much both active and passive time the video stitching and editing really takes. Our clients were happy with the results we produced, but we’re anxiously anticipating the next generation of 360 cameras that seem to be just around the corner. These new cameras will (hopefully) eliminate the stitching part of the process which is currently the main stumbling block for great videos. You rarely see spherical panorama videos that do not have some errors where the different video streams meet.

Finally, we needed the software to show the videos we made. There are no software products on the market that would give us everything we needed, and besides, custom software is what we do. Unity was chosen as the technology platform to build this on. It has some good support for the Oculus and allows for rapid prototyping and development.

Testing the controller for the viewer

The end result of all of this was one of the strangest and most exciting projects I’ve been a part of as well as a happy customer. Working with new technology is definitely challenging, and this still has to be considered more as a proof of concept, but who knows what the future holds? One thing is for sure, FutuLabs will continue and it will enable us to stay on the cutting edge where we thrive.

Building Junction


How it all started

At first the idea of hosting a hackathon for 500 participants in the slushy and dark city of Helsinki - at the beginning of November - seemed a bit of a challenge. However we decided to tackle it - we had a vision to create the coolest hackathon Europe has ever seen and the crappy Finnish weather wasn’t going to stop us.

We visioned a hackathon that would be something big, cool and truly thrilling. Something that sets up a new normal for the entire concept. That’s why we realized from early on that the production of the event would have to be a lot more than just setting up an internet connection, a few tables in a brightly lit lecture hall and ordering a large pizza delivery.

What does it take

In order to get a sneak peek to what does it take to build up a massive hackathon event such as Junction, we asked Ville and Jesse - the guys in charge of the production - to tell a bit more about the process. They nailed the three main things down: hands, design and practicalities.


An event this size requires quite a lot of people. Just to get the show running we recruited a team of 50+ volunteers to help in putting Junction together. When the moment of truth takes place, they will build the whole event from the ground up - everything from tables to electrifying to whole place.


To create an event that both looks great and works seamlessly, we have to make sure that there is also people with experience from similar events that come in to help with the more detailed planning. That’s why we have hired the people who produce Slush to come and design the event.


A hackathon for 500 participants requires tons of work with the technical side making sure that the electricity and internet connections are taken care of. To keep the hackers energized we have partners that will bring food and drinks as well as proper meals from a catering service a few times a day to keep everybody happy. When hosting an event that has tons of latest technology playing a major part in it, we have also taken into consideration security. We will have our own security team making sure only those who have access get in to the hall.

floor-plan Sun Effects created the the original floorpan of the event. However, the tent that was originally planned got too small so the new design features a bigger tent to accommodate a bigger stage and more booths for partners.

All in all, production of an event like this cannot be organized based on just a few action points assuming that it will work itself out. We have to make sure that when the event takes place, every single detail is taken care off, and that every minute is scheduled.

That’s why we are relentlessly keeping all the details together - while constantly designing even cooler stuff for the event.

3d-rendering An early design of the hall by our friends at Sun Effects

Junction takes place in the former boiler hall of Suvilahti, Helsinki - a cool industrial space just next to the city centre. The old boiler hall and its surroundings is the perfect venue for the event.

For the participants, the hall will provide an environment that’s buzzing with new ideas and energy. And everything they need for making those ideas to reality.

When it comes to the tech that you can play with, we’ll have things like a 3D printer, large multi touch wall, drones, latest VR equipment, smart watches, and the list goes on.

As said, building Junction is a process that has one sole purpose, which is to create the most inspiring hacking space possible. And of course create an awesome event around the latest and most greatest tech.

Creating health solutions of tomorrow


What happens when a twenty­something, single, male­engineer is assigned with the task to develop a digital health service for expectant mothers at If, Scandinavia’s largest insurance company?

Some of you might be wondering why an insurance company wants to do something like that in the first place. The answer is simple – we want to transform our traditional role of only offering services for when something bad happens. Instead we want to think:


Also during times that don’t include accidents. Challenge: Understanding customer needs

Our first step was to assess the needs of expectant mothers. As insurers we may know plenty about risk, but the softer side is new to us. After brainstorming for hours with two of my male colleagues, a lawyer and an economist, we had successfully found out that we know nothing about (pregnant) women. It seemed like a good idea to get closer to the target customer. Two of my colleagues were engaged, but unfortunately there were no babies in sight. For some reason, all eyes turned on me. Instead of establishing a family, I headed to App Store and downloaded the most popular pregnancy app on the market. The app was built around pregnancy weeks, offering concrete tips and valid information on the development of my body and the baby. I figured “If the app is so popular, it must teach me something about the kind of services our target customer is seeking”. I took it into use with enthusiasm and informed my colleagues. Bad move! At the office, the word of course soon got out that I’m ‘pregnant’.. After following my progression for six weeks (in three separate trimesters), I had actually become quite the expert on my daily happenings and restrictions on exercise and nutrition ­ and also knowing which colleagues to avoid. Apart from all the witty remarks, I learned that one could fill a library with information related to pregnancy. With additional research, our main finding was that there are hundreds of questions one might have during pregnancy related to daily activities and pregnancy progression, but no good place to get medically valid information in real time – which likely creates stress and uncertainty. We committed to providing a way to answer all the questions and remove this uncertainty.

Service Development

Instead of reinventing the wheel, we looked up existing solutions to our problem. Of all the options, the Finnish startup Meedoc had already brilliantly gotten to the heart of the issue with their remote doctor app, through which expectant mothers can ask anything from nurses with a chat function. Not wanting to compete on an area outside our core, we contacted Meedoc to find common ground and build a solution in collaboration. The development challenges were not that much related to building the app, as Meedoc had the right software in place. A new thing was integrating with Apple Health Kit, as we wanted to try out smart blood­pressure sensors with the services. The biggest challenges were actually building the service into our existing If insurance processes, that are designed around risk and insurance products. Traditionally most service innovations have come from within, so where to plug­in an external service so that it’s convenient for customers, and how to communicate about it both internally and externally?

The Result


This September, after three months of active development, we’re launching a limited pilot called “If Maternity Clinic” app, offering our baby insurance customers a direct chat function to contact nurses. With it our customers can ask anything health­related during their pregnancy ­ when they want and as often as they like. A select group will also be able to monitor their health with a smart blood­pressure monitor integrated with the app.

For an insurance company chiefly focusing on risk, developing a service like this is seriously cool. With the pilot we aim to refine the service and scale it to all our baby insurance customers in Finland, and then to other Nordic Countries. The project is thus taking If into an area where we offer value­adding services to our customers, not only insurance products. The project is also a great example of open innovation, where the best solutions are sourced both internally and externally. Collaboration with Meedoc has led to other fruitful talks, and we hope to work with them more in future. We also actively welcome other startups and more mature companies to innovate future digital services with us when it comes to Connected Health, Car, and Health. Our vision is to help our partners take on the Nordics with us, after which the road to world is open!

Hackathons for Beginners


Why is understanding technology important?

Seeing and experiencing the maker side of things is an empowering feeling. You’ll see all the products and devices you use in a new way, when you know what’s happening behind the curtains. There’s a whole new world that opens up into different shapes and sizes, where you see code, all sorts of technology and engineering in new dimensions. Coding, programming, or telling any machine what to do is a way to get things done quicker, safer, faster, better, in huge quantities or specific precision - often again and again. It can help you to self express, given the range of new things one is able to do with a little bit of code literacy!

We are not aiming to make anyone a programmer during a few days - but rather give an easy and inspirational way of trying what it’s like to build something functional on your own (with awesome tutors and a fun group)!

What is a hackathon?

Hackathons are marathons of programming. People get together to program and build things for usually 48 or 72 hours and in the end, present their projects. In most hackathons best teams are awarded with prizes but that is usually just a side-effect to learning and having fun together.

Hackathons usually have a broad theme like open data or transportation but the ideas and the technologies used can vary a lot between teams. Some projects continue living after the hackathon and some are just one-off fun projects that are forgotten after the event.

Our hackathons - mehackit’s and Rails Girls - are pre-planned themes, and involve talks and games in addition to getting to build awesome stuff.


Why participate in a hackathon?

Hackathons might sound scary. Brr! To ease you - we have cupcakes and you’ll never want to leave. Hackathons are an excellent place to learn programming and prototyping while having a ton of fun.

Hackathons are not only for professional coders but are also a great place to learn programming. People are willing to help and offer their expertise and nothing teaches you faster than building stuff. If you already know how to program, you can choose a new technology or experiment on something goofy. At Rails Girls and mehackit, we have teams and coaches, so you’ll have support at your hands at all times!

Hackathons are also a great place to meet new, like-minded people. When you start programming, the easiest and nicest way to continue is with friends who want to do the same. Socializing is a big part of hackathons and working together with someone for 48 hours gives ground for friendship.

Who are Mehackit and Rails Girls?

Rails Girls is a global network of Ruby language programmers, who welcome new people to the community all around the world from Tokyo to Buenos Aires. Consider it a large family, that organizes events so that more people can join the fun! Rails Girls events are two-day workshops for curious women, who want to see what the magic in software programming is about.

Mehackit brings beginners courses in robotics and coding to schools around Finland. Mehackit’s aim is to empower the generation of technology users to become technology-savvy makers. The initial spark and curiosity can take you places! In 2015, there will be 30+ high schools where you can enroll in the voluntary 7-week course, and learn how to build an arduino robot from electronic bits and wires and code!

How to participate?

You can apply to Rails Girls here and mehackit here All you need with you is curiosity and a laptop. However, if you want to have a go at some exercises in advance, here’s a few links! :)


The 3 things that will make or break your hackathon


Hackathons are perfect events for creative and talented people. They allow the participants to meet like-minded people while creating disruptive solutions, and to experience the latest technologies first-hand.

For people who have ideas, and capabilities to execute these ideas, a hackathon is undoubtedly one of the best ways to spend a weekend.

When you’re going through your Facebook or Twitter on a lazy sunday and run into an event that looks interesting, what is the yay or nay that settles whether you’ll join it or skip it?

We think that it’s all about 3 elements.


Whether it’s a house party, a baby shower or a hackathon, people are the single most important element for any event.

That’s why you should look out for hackathons that attract interesting people from different kinds of backgrounds. You often learn most when you’re put on a collision course with new people, and at those moments also some of the most game-changing ideas come up.

Surely there is more than one reason why someone would like to join a hackathon. At least meeting new people, learning new things and changing the world, should be at the top of that list.

We believe that hackathons where people are genuinely interested in meeting new people – and have the urge to change the world – are events that stand out. So when you are choosing the right event to attend, have a little dig around to see what kind of hackers are attending.


Innovative technology comes from innovative companies. As such, finding a hackathon that has interesting and disrupting partners is a thing worth looking into.

Partners are essentially the backbone of the event as they are the ones that bring their hardware in and their APIs for you to hack on. These are the kind of companies that push their industries forward. The more disruptive, the better. But hey, that’s just our opinion.

And If you’re going to hack on something anyway anyway, why not hack on something exciting that could potentially change the world? Might as well be a part of creating new disruptive solution and setting standards for the future.

So be on the look out, choose the companies you are interested in, and find hackathons that are supported by the tech you love.


And so we come to our last point. The venue. In order to attract the right type of people and the right type of companies, the venue will decide the hackathons limits. Not to mention it has to hold up the weight of the participants while catering for your basic needs.

A hackathon can be many things, ranging from 30 guys in a warehouse writing a few lines of code, to 500 people in a massive industrial space having the best weekend in years. When it comes to the nature of these events, we believe in the latter.

Bigger spaces give space to bigger ideas to grow. And more people. Who comes up with ideas? That’s right - People. If you want to experience something truly amazing, you probably should look for something more than a get-together at someone’s garage. As an added bonus, bigger spaces means potentially more hardware and more variety to hack on.


All in All

So, next time you are signing for an event, or simply considering to do so, use these three pillars as a guide in making your decision. People, partners and the event space. If all of those have a checkmark, there’s a good chance the event will be amazing.