38 teams competed for a grand prize trip to the Austin Summit – your local user group could be next.

TAIWAN — With a wearable device that measures muscle signals while playing the violin, a quartet of developers hit the right note with judges of the first OpenStack Hackathon.

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Tsao Szu-Han, Liao Chung-Wei, Liu Jian-Hong and Wu Chi-Kang fist-pumped onstage when they were announced winners for their “Phantom of the L.I.K.A.” project, which will take them all the way from Taipei to Austin, Texas for the Summit. They were congratulated by Premier Simon Chang, Google’s former director of hardware operations in Asia, who toured all the Hackathon projects and spoke to the crowd, underlining the importance of the event for the local community and OpenStack.

The event serves as a prototype for future hackathons that OpenStack User Groups around the world will run. These Hackathons will focus on end-user experience and what people are building on OpenStack. To start planning yours, get in touch with David Flanders, the OpenStack Foundation’s community wrangler, via Twitter @DFFlanders or IRC dfflanders.

Here’s how it worked. Over 200 people participated in the Friday-to-Sunday event, their backgrounds ranging from private companies, government, universities and research institutions.

In the week building up to the event, training was offered to OpenStack newcomers. Sessions included building your first app, OpenStack Swift 101 and an introduction to OpenStack APIs. A team-finding session helped pair up developers who weren’t already part of a group.

Over the weekend, teams were tasked with developing apps with a future-city theme. Between “struggle suppers” and “vitality breakfasts,” in the space offered by hosts inWinStack they put their heads together on solutions for transportation, environment and climate change.

One project, inspired by “The Martian,” proposed to solve the threat of food shortages — with potatoes. The team placed tubers in a high-rise system that gauges water, light and fertilizer and can sense whether the vegetable is ripe or rotten. (See YouTube video below for a demo).

In addition to the grand prize trip to the Austin Summit, other prizes included MacBook Airs, hoverboards and, for the winner in the best business potential category, dinner with a venture capitalist.

"OpenStack has grown rapidly over the past five years, and is already the world’s most widely used open source cloud software in cloud computing development. Our focus now is not on the cloud itself, but on innovative applications in the cloud,” said OpenStack Foundation executive director Jonathan Bryce, who was joined at the event by Foundation staffers Tom Fifield, David Flanders and Lauren Sell. “We want to thank Taiwan government officials and academia for their strong support of this event. This will be a model for future hackathons that cultivate excellence in cloud computing."

Stay tuned for info on upcoming OpenStack Hackathons!

Photos: Constance Chao, Media Plus Communication & Consulting Co.