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Our first hackathon of 2021

Hackathon, Renew Use Cases, Insurtech, Technology3Mins
2021-04-28Written by Richard Gunn

The first hackathon of 2021 saw us burn an arduino sensor, reverse engineer algorithms, automate breakout rooms and even weigh the benefits of unicorn animations for kanban boards. It was busy. Because we had so much fun, we wanted to share a roundup of the best bits of our first hackathon of the year. 

At hx, we love a good hackathon. Not only are they a fun way to reconnect everyone during the lockdown, but they also give us a chance to test some new ideas and push our boundaries. Here's what we got up to in our first (and very eventful) hackathon of 2021. 

A hack so good, even our Head of Marketing was excited! 

Not all of our hacks are universally interesting outside of hx walls. Sometimes we enjoy testing out new programming languages, or seeing if the platform can handle complex challenges. However, this month Utsav came up with such a well thought out and executed hack that our marketing department wanted to share it immediately. And then learn how to do it for themselves! 

For Utsav, the inspiration came from our customers. One of the latest innovations in the insurance world is the phenomenon of parametric insurance. In essence, your insurance premium changes when a 'trigger event’ occurs. In practice it means that an insurer could agree to insure a shipping vessel for a set premium, which would increase whenever the ship's tracker indicated that it had entered an area typically associated with high levels of piracy. The foundation is in the deterrence of risk. If increasing risk increases your premium, then you are likely to do what you can to avoid said risk. 

But what does this mean practically, for models built in Renew? Models would need to be able to respond dynamically to data from sensors in real-time. This was not an easy hack. Utsav managed to build his own heat sensor, using an Arduino which could directly interact with a Renew model. The sensor gave constant temperature readings, which alerted the model when they went above a specified 'safe limit’. In turn this generated an alert for the insurer to raise the premium. 

Sadly this awesome hack did result in the loss of a sensor for Utsav (it turns out using a lighter to raise the temperature was not great for the plastic...!). But it looks like the start of some really cool possibilities for Renew customers. If the ability to integrate sensor data into a pricing model is something you are interested in, get in touch with us directly using hello@hyperexponential.com 

What other sensor data would you like to feed into your Renew models?

The quote of the hackathon 

Credit must go to Rob for a quote that we think could be the motto of all hackathons: 

"mine was less a hack, than an exercise in hubris” 

Rob Williams

Thankfully, Adomas was on hand to help out, resulting in a cool integration which lets you pinpoint geographical locations to a 3m square for Renew models. Testing of this idea is ongoing, along with many of the other new ideas and features the rest of the engineering team worked on. Keep an eye on our social media for more news. 

We also saw some non-Renew development, with Patrycja looking at whether we can automate the breakout rooms for our stand-ups. There are still some details to be ironed out, but it's definitely going to save us time in the morning.  

Finally, two of our team spent some time diving into a new organisational tool to keep track of the hundreds of cool projects going in across hx. We still haven't made a choice, but want to say that the unicorn animations that Asana shows you (after ticking off a task) put a smile on quite a few faces. 


Thanks to the team, once again! 

As usual, the hackathon was a great way of getting the whole team working together and resulted in an impressive amount of work in two short days. We also want to say a big thankyou to Kaja for organising delicious snack boxes to keep us going!  

Learn more about parametric insurance models

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