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Distributed Identity Project Wins $20k Hackathon Prize at Distributed: Trade

A four-person project calling itself DIID – for Distributed ID – was awarded the $20,000 grand prize in the 24-hour hackathon that preceded the Distributed: Trade conference in St. Louis, Missouri earlier this week. The team developed a prototype of an application that provides a “solution to digital user identity,” beating out 15 other projects.

Despite being fairly new to blockchain technology, the DIID team developed a public key/private key approach to managing digital IDs, involving a customer, a vendor and government agencies for identification checks. As hackathon judge Jeremy Gardner of Blockchain Capital noted, “The challenge of solving digital identity is a graveyard littered with millions of dollars in failed startups.” However, the judges felt that Distributed ID team had a unique and promising approach to this problem using blockchain technology.

The team whose 24-hour collaboration produced DIID was comprised of Dev Bharel, Duncan Brown, Shannon Foster and Angelo Sarceno--none of whom had met prior to the hackathon. 

“The [hackathon] for us was an opportunity to learn how to tie our love of coding and love of blockchain tech together, and learn how to code blockchain applications,” said Dev Bharel. “We stumbled onto a remarkable solution for identity that ties in what current solutions are doing, but on a greater scale. One of the best things was…[getting] advice on how to move forward with our ideas and actually turn them into a company.”

In addition to the grand prize winner, the Arbiter team was awarded a $2,500 runners-up prize. Arbiter developed a solution to manage the business relationship between insurance and reinsurance companies.

Other projects recognized as honorable mentions by the judges included DeliverDAO, a decentralized approach to reducing the high costs of the “last mile” involved in delivery of packages and Ethernote, which looked to provide low-cost trade finance for small suppliers.

Conference sponsor Thomson Reuters also awarded a $2,500 challenge prize to Bloodchain, a blood donation tracking application.

Overall, nearly 60 technologists took part in the hackathon, many of whom met for the first time and formed teams that day. The event was hosted by Robert Schwentker, founder of Silicon Valley’s Blockchain University and Tyler Evans, CTO of BTC Media, who with St. Louis fintech accelerator SixThirty organized the conference and hackathon event.

All of the prizes were paid in Bitcoin, secured on KeepKey hardware wallets.

The hackathon – held at the offices of St. Louis accelerator T-REX – was notable not only for its large prize fund but for its focus, like the conference, on supply chain and related financial services applications.

Also notable was that all of the winners – as well as several other participants – chose the Ethereum blockchain platform on which to develop their prototypes. Other technologies leveraged by the winning teams included web development frameworks AngularJS and Node.js, the Swift, Python and Solidity programming and scripting languages, the MongoDB NoSQL database, and the Docker containerization platform.

As well as information behemoth Thomson Reuters, insurance giants RGA and State Farm were sponsors of the hackathon. In addition to Jeremy Gardner of Blockchain Capital, judges for the competition were Tom Niermann of the St. Louis Arch Angels, Chris Patteson of FedEx, Joe Harr of State Farm, Santosh Sankar of Dynamo and Mark Showers of RGA.

The judges assessed the projects on a number of criteria, including the relevance of the problem being solved to supply chain challenges, its use of unique features of blockchain technology, the commercial potential of the application, the technical feasibility of implementing the application in the real world and the quality of the presentation of the project.

Hackathons have become a popular element of blockchain industry conferences, providing a glimpse into the possibilities offered by the technology and acting as catalysts for developments that might one day become commercial products. BTC Media plans to host its next hackathon in conjunction with its Distributed: Health conference, to be held in Nashville, Tennessee on September 7, 2016.

Winning hackathon team Distributed IDThe winning hackathon team Distributed ID with hackathon hosts and organizers. From left to right: Robert Schwentker, Dev Bharel, Duncan Brown, Angelo Sarceno, Shannon Foster, David Bailey and Atul Kamra.

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