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24 Hours Between Briefing Session and an Air Quality Sensor

Steinbeis expert Bernd Damkowski works up a successful concept at the RLP Hackathon

When the Rhineland-Palatinate Business Hackathon took place in November 2020, Steinbeis Digital Solutions partner Bernd Damkowski was among the contestants of the 24-hour event. By the end of the contest, Damkowski and his FAMS (Flexible Air Measurement Sensor) team had secured prize money worth 1,500 euros. Congratulations!

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The event got underway on November 13 with a streamed kick-off session to allow the 13 teams to prepare, meet up online, and gain an overview of the main goal of the hackathon. This was to solve issues across five categories: smart mobility, the healthcare industry, the internet of things (IoT), smart farming, and the manual trades, which was the topic Damkowski from Steinbeis Digital Solutions focused on, supported by two team colleagues, both building technology students at Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences. The hackathon itself kicked off on November 14. The question the trio devoted their time to for the next 24 hours was, “How can new technologies be used to measure indoor and ambient air quality and take appropriate measures to minimize hazards and risks?”

FAMS – the adaptable air sensor
By pooling their knowledge of technology, sales, and marketing, the team came up with the Flexible Air Measurement Sensor, or FAMS, a kind of adaptable monitoring device for evaluating air quality. The envisaged prototype would function as a microcontroller, be a little bit larger than a memory stick, and make it possible to measure air quality based on a battery of assessment parameters, such as CO2 and volatile organic compound (VOC) levels, or air humidity. The device could also notify users if it is time to air rooms, visually using a traffic light system, or electronically via an app or email.

Financial rewards for all hackathon teams
All teams submitted their ideas on time to meet the 24-hour deadline. The submissions were judged by a jury of seven representatives of various centers of competence, the Rheinhessen Chamber of Craft Industries, the German Startups Association, Mainz & Rheinhessen IT Club, and the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of Economic Affairs. The results were announced several days later: The first prize of 3,000 euros went to a team called Ba(h)nanenbande, which developed a feedback app for train passengers. Second and third places, each honored with a prize of 2,500 euros, went to teams that came up with solutions in the manual trades, smart farming, and smart mobility categories. All of the other participants, which included FAMS, were delighted to receive a prize of 1,500 euros.

A vision of the road ahead
So what’s next for FAMS going forward? To keep up momentum for the project and prepare for market introduction, the concept will still require further development work, as will actual products. To make this possible, the team is looking for tech-savvy students with an understanding of indoor air quality, sensors, and software development. To commercialize the idea, at first FAMS will probably be marketed online to customers in Germany, on Amazon and – if possible – through a dedicated website. In the future, it should also be possible to integrate FAMS into existing technical systems, for example via servers.

What is a hackathon?
Hackathon is a portmanteau of the words hacking and marathon. Such an event is normally organized over a limited time period, during which teams are challenged to develop a useful and creative software concept revolving around a specific issue – or to work out a general technological solution to a problem.

The RLP Hackathon is an initiative launched by the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of Economic Affairs, Transport, Agriculture, and Viticulture. For more information, go to https://rlp-hackathon.de/ or follow the initiative on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.



Bernd Damkowski
Steinbeis Digital Solutions GmbH