Live Blogging From Consensus 2016: Hackathon Day 2, May 1, 2016


I decided I may as well check out the hackathon before the actual conference, since I have the time, and wanted to meet up with Bryan Bishop, one of the Bitcoin Core developers I’ve been working with to get Bitcoin Core’s new communications team and efforts off the ground.

The hackathon is hosted by Microsoft at their swanky tech center in Times Square. I don’t think I’m supposed to be able to get in, but I explained to the security folks that I’m here as media, and that they haven’t issued me pass yet. She was cooperative thankfully.

Bryan took the time to answer some questions I had about the Lightning Network, which helped me understand it better, and will hopefully let me explain it better to others in the future.

Currently, the hackers are doing practice presentations where they get the chance to test their planned presentations and get feedback from panelists. Seems like a cool way for them to get better at presenting.

The first presentation I caught partially, but they are using the Bitcoin blockchain. The next 3 have all been based on Ethereum, including one that sounds a lot like he invented money for farmers :/

I noticed Dan Anderson, AKA Droplister, from the podcast Unconfirmed Transactions is here, programming away, so I gave him a quick hello. Check out his anarcho-millinerist stylings on SoundCloud when you get chance!


As Bryan looked over my shoulders while typing, he private-messaged the following link to me:

LOL, yes, I’m horrible at typing, never formally trained. Maybe I’ll take the time to practice with that website in the future…


The practice presentations are over, and in 30min everyone will begin their official presentations.

Lunch was provided, and Bryan, Dan, and myself had a great conversation about Blockstream’s Liquid and the dynamics of how arbitrage might work when fully implemented. This led to someone overhearing our conversation and asking about how DAOs, might be relevant. It was an odd interjection from a man that, to my conspiracy-loving nature, looked and sounded much like a government rep or consultant to government interests. He informed us that he works as a consultant and is researching the viability of various blockchain solutions versus existing database options. His company is called InfoRev, if I heard him correctly.

Deloitte is walking around giving out branded t-shirts that say “Make the blockchain real” and setting up their promo banners, etc.


Here’s a list of the upcoming presentations:

1    Proof of Phone    A
2    CyberSecurity Insurance     B
3    FarmShare    A
4    Aira Virtual Economy    B
5    Decentralized Energy Utility    A
6    SharingChain    B
7    Object Chain    A
6    Solidity to Go    B
9    Black Ops Messaging    A
8    SmartAirBnB    B
11    Bidding Wars    A
10    Community Relief Fund    B
11    Vote HQ    A
12    Andre    B
13    Riot    A
14    Instant Tutors    B
15    DNA Samples    A
16    Clearporter    B
17    Lead Market    A
18    Infinity    B
19    P-to-P markets    A
20    Micro-Sass    B
21    Distributed Lab    A
22    UnionD    B
23    Healthchain    A


The presentations are beginning now. Judges have been introduced, time to discover the next “killer app”! Contestants had about 24 hours to create and will be judged on “uniqueness, market-readiness, quality of presentation, and tech complexity.” Each project gets 3 minutes to present and 1 minute of Q&A with the judges.

Proof of Phone – KYC oracle on ethereum platform linking phone # to Ethereum wallet. Helps to allow ‘sovereign identity’ (expect to hear that buzzword more often). The app works with SMS to authenticate account creation.

CyberSecurity Insurance – Trying to solve the problem of not knowing a party’s actual cybersecurity. Uses oracles and smart contracts on Ethereum as well as bitcoin. I didn’t quite understand it, partly because I had to move across the room due to alternating presentation podiums. He wrote it as an Ethereum smart contract from what I understand, so I’m not sure if judges found the static demo sufficient. Sounds like it somehow assesses security of a firewall.

FarmShare  – “Agriculture platform for 21st century”. Tokenizes products and tasks related to farmers such as delivery. Sounds like you must participate to get farmshares. Mentioned ability to track full provenance of product from the labor to the seed to the farmer’s market, etc. Utilizes Ethercamp and Angular.

Aira Virtual Economy – Integrate games with Ethereum smart contracts, giving community tools for trading on virtual marketplace. Judge didn’t really see how smart contracts are used.

Decentralized Energy Utility – Solve high cost, inefficiency and corruption of energy. Assumes house has smart meter that settles to system with smart contracts. Built with HyperLedger. Judge asked how network might talk back to lighting, and whether people would lose power were their blockchain to go offline.

Solidity to Go – Full editor for Solifity for Eclipse. Adding more Go to it, converts Ethereum smart contracts to HyperLedger.

(I’m not a coder, dear audience, so please forgive me if my understanding of these pitches is limited or inaccurate!)

Object Chain – Publice registry of physical objects on Bitcoin blockchain (using Tierion). Android and iOS app. Example: Car dealer tracks history of car VIN, mileage, etc. Judge questions use of Bitcoin blockchain instead of smart contract, due to bitcoin requiring transfer of value and Ethereum not (I think?). Answer was to not take on counterparty risk of Ethereum.

FleetChain – Solving high cost of short-term rental of large equipment. Requires a device. Allows owners to increase utilization of their equipment by renting. HyperLedger project. Their implementation was nonfunctioning to unreliability of the service! Judge asked them to consider using Ethereum…

Black Ops Messaging – Distributed ledger to control and store intelligence. HyperLedger project. Example included “trusted spy” as a user. “Secrets” can be destroyed afterward. Spy adds block to blockchain with payload. Lots of referring to “The Blockchain” without specifying which blockchain… Annoying to hear all this “The Blockchain” talk when not referring to Bitcoin.

SmartAirBnB – Going to the bathroom, sorry, I think we can guess this one 😉

Bidding Wars – Sorry, missed this one too! It was getting hot, found cooler area of room by the door.

DAO Community Relief Fund – Adding transparency to charity funds using ‘the blockchain’, Ethereum, I assume? Seems like requests can be made and then people can vote whether to disperse money.

Vote HQ – Uses BlockApps, SMS, and Ethereum to allow voting processes via ‘the blockchain’. Authenticates, tallies and totals, etc. Judge points out that SMS is a point of failure.

Andre – Video game inspired by Super Monkey Ball, incorporating Bitcoin betting and transparent leader boards, etc.’the blockchain’.

RIoT – Retail Internet of Things, addressing inventory accuracy between retailers and supply chain uing RFID and bar code scans via .

Instant Tutors -Connects students with tutors using smart contracts. Includes reputation and price of tutors. Ethereum.

Lead Market – Uses Tierion’s hashing to the Bitcoin blockchain to allow a market for selling fresh sales leads. Uses Bitcoin! One of the few presentations to demo full working software. Judge says “Y’know there’s a company that gets paid millions of dollars a year to do what you made in a few hours.” The only complimentary comment I’ve heard so far. Good job, Dan!

DNA Samples -MIA

Clearporter – Shipping system supply chain with complete transparency for shipping industry, including granular pricing/bonuses for early delivery.

Infinity – Social investment network.

P2P markets – Secondary auction market for loans for any blockchain. Receiving, appraisal, and custody escrow. All this guy had was a slide.

Micro-Sass –  Aggregates APIs to allow companies and users to call services at transactional level. Free them from per-user/per-month model and independence from vendors. Private Azure blockchain.

Distributed Lab – Some sort o whitepaper presentation suggesting standards for how blockchains should be stacked, I think…

dOTT -Paywall for digital content, movies in this case. Utilizes Ethereum Serenity smart contracts. Not clear why smart contracts are needed for this…

UnionD – Union as a service on Ethereum blockchain. Portability of data, reliability, reduced turnover. A “virtual negotiation table” for workes and businesses. DAO.

Healthchain – Securing prescriptions on the blockchain. Their slides seem well-designed for 24 hours, good job. Serves doctors & patients.


Of note, some judges consider private blockchains ‘scalable’ opposed to others. This was apparent in several comments throughout the day. There is definitely a bias in the room about which type of blockchains are appropriate for what. I’m not totally clear if that means Bitcoin-reliant projects will be less likely to win, but I doubt that’s an issue considering one judge builds on Bitcoin (via Tierion).


Time to announce the winners!

Deloitte on stage, they announce Fleetchain as their winner! Their prize is a a day and dinner at their “innovation lab” with their blockchain gurus to help them launch their company.

Microsoft and Consensus up next. They announced a partnership where they will have a virtual hackathon for a month this summer. Proof of Phone wins! and DAO Community Relief wins! They didn’t remind us what the prizes here are, sorry!

Microsoft has a surprise prize $150/mo free Azure credit and product licenses, awarded to Micro-Sass!

EtherCamp on stage presenting their award to three winners: Infinity!

IBM prizes up next, presenting a huge clown check to Black Ops, for  GoPro cameras and some advertising. Their main winner is Decentralized Energy Utility, sorry I couldn’t see the amount on the clown check from my seat!

Final sponsor prize from Tieron next, Lead Market is the winnerof 1 BTC!

Final overall prizes: UnionD gets Honorable Mention. Runner-up Community Relief team. And the winner of the $5000 clown check is …

Decentralized Energy Utility!

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