If the usual hackathon doesn’t get you excited, how about one that takes place 11 miles up in the stratosphere (meaning, yes, you might have to talk to the stranger whose knee is touching yours)?
As lofty as it sounds, this is what the organisers of Hack Horizon are offering. Over 3 days, 32 successful applicants will be invited to build new products that can make travel simple, safer, cheaper and fun – and the highlight of this “journey” is a 12 hour flight from Hong Kong to London. It’s digital nomadism on steroids, passing through the air space of China, Mongolia and Russia, among other states.
Of course, there is an underlying purpose to all of this. Through experiencing a journey end to end, participants will be able to test their assumptions on other customers, while presumably proceeding with caution in the air, as few people would like to be interrupted by a wide-eyed product designer while watching Iron Man vs King Kong Part II.
As Hack Horizon explains on their website:
Hack Horizon will completely immerse you in the travel experience and give you access to real life customers to test your assumptions right off the bat. What’s more is, that you will be granted special access to some of the best travel technologies and APIs out there as well as have the support and mentorship of leading industry experts.
The trip furthermore continues beyond touchdown. From arrival at Heathrow, Hack Horizon participants will spend the afternoon and evening working from TravelTech Lab in London, once they have discovered the joys of the capital’s transport system. They will then spend another day of hacking and final preparations before pitching before entrepreneurs and the media at the London Transport Museum.
If you are reading this far and have applied successfully for Hack Horizon, here are my
gripes thoughts as a regular traveller – these are problems that simply won’t go away, no matter how many times you flush:
- Airline websites. Many are incredibly frustrating to use
- Airline food. It was bad before. It still is bad, irrespective of class
- Reclining seats in Economy. No longer a good idea
- Manners. Passenger etiquette seems to have been sucked out of the window in recent years
- Retail. Would airports please stop treating me as a shopper? I’m a passenger trying to find my gate, sometimes as quickly as possible
- Gimmicks – travel is full of them, from priority boarding to the mobile boarding pass
- Airport security, a borderline humiliating experience. This has to improve
And here are things we don’t need – so don’t even think about it:
- Another novelty in-flight safety video featuring hobbits, football players, or whatever else springs to mind after a caffeine-fuelled sleepless night
- An in-flight social network
- An in-flight messaging app
- People yabbering on their phone in the air
Good luck to all applying. It sounds completely bonkers – but whatever it takes to make flying an experience we can all look forward to again.