Oulu 5G Hackathon through the eyes of technically challenged guy

“Oh yeah, my phone is using 4G” is turning into “oh no, it’s on 4G now”. What? The last time I was buying a brand new mobile phone subscription the salesman was hyping about the awesome 4G or LTE. Even though we are still using it, it will slowly lose its glamour. Why? Because of this new 5G-thingy that will turn 4G into the “3G of the future”; the sign on your screen that wipes away the smile from your face (lots of Gs around here).

I was told I will work at Oulu 5G Hackathon one day before the event started and that was the first time I heard about such thing called 5G. On Friday I walked into the Hackathon location, Tellus Innovation Arena, with zero knowledge about what to expect. I had never been to any Hackathons either.

Dr. Seppo Yrjölä of Nokia gave a speech at the opening ceremony and the content of it stunned me. 2.6 billion (BILLION not million) people are currently using ICT tech developed in Oulu. We are slowly moving from Maslow's hierarchy of needs towards the needs of machines. Like in must-watch movie Her in which an operating system has feelings for a lonely guy and vice versa. So if you have a crush on Siri be patient, it CAN happen.

From the very start it was clear to me that this event would be a fierce competition. There were hackers from three continents, for example from United States, Sri Lanka, India, Russia, Brazil. Many of these participants had won several hackathons all around the world. The CEO of the hackathon organizer Ultrahack, Mikko Järvilehto, raised this event as the most competitive one he has ever attended.

Even though Oulu 5G Hackathon was a tough competition, there was also a room for chill and fun. For instance, there was this group air guitar performance led by the 2000 world champion Markus Vainionpää. There were people in the sauna in front of the uni, too. And people were naturally cracking some cold ones open with the boys.

The competition part consisted of three separate challenges for hackers, all of which were hosted by major organizations. Telia, which is best known for its operator-services, wanted its challenge to create mobile apps for 5G age. They are building up a 5G-network in Helsinki already in 2018 in cooperation with Nokia.

This Hackathon, Nokia also had its own challenge that was aiming to improve robot2robot-communication and self-learning of robots (terminator stuff if you ask me). Artificial intelligence and connecting things are main concepts of 5G. In an ideal future there wouldn’t be maintenance problems. Nokia already has a conscious factory and 5G could play a major role in its development. Oulu University Hospital had also a challenge that was based on the long distance between patient and hospital in Northern Finland. Oulu University Hospital is so huge (42 kilometers of corridors) that even an employee can get lost in the middle of that labyrinth. Their Future Hospital OYS 2030 programme could benefit greatly from 5G.

The solutions pitched by the teams were brilliant, especially the ones that won their challenges. Augumenta won the Nokia challenge worth of 5000 euros with the concept of a smart-worker that uses wearable tech on 5G network. For example you can give virtual instructions to an employee who sees them via his glasses. Telia challenge winners (10 000 euros) were ClassRoom that plans on bringing virtual reality elements to schools with the help of 5G. The winner of Oulu University Hospital challenge worth of 5000 euros was Navify who also won the Grand Prix finale, competing among all three challenge winners. That meant 5000 euros more for them. They used 5G-technology for next-level navigating. You just film the environment with your mobile phone and the app gives you detailed live instructions on where to go. 

All the solutions including the winning ones were very different from each other. But what combines them? What is the main benefit of 5G? 5G gives you the extra hour to your day you have always been looking for. So it gives you one more hour to waste on Netflix and stuff. For example 5G downloads a HD-movie in 3.6 seconds (with 4G it takes 6 minutes).

If you wanna hear more about this awesomeness from the organizers and the Grand Prix winner, check out the videos below! 


Atte Räinä
Tellus Team 
The author is a strong supporter of the theory that fishes can't see water because we can't see air. 

Last updated: 28.6.2017

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