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hackathon contestants

LONDON, United Kingdom – 40 developers, 40 hours, too much caffeine and no sleep – but it was all worth it for the winners of the Nokia World Hackathon.

While other Nokia World delegates were lying in hammocks in the chill-out zone drinking ‘optimism’ smoothies, a hardened core of techies were shut in a stuffy white room at the London ExCeL center, coding until they dropped. 

The Hackathon distills the 300,000 concepts submitted to the Nokia Ideas Project into viable mobile apps for use on the latest Nokia phones. This year the teams had to submit working apps for use on three platforms: Nokia with Windows Phone, Qt, and Series 40. The best are developed as products for the Nokia Store.

The winners of this development dance-marathon were a Swedish team who designed their first ever game. The app, called Duudle, works like pictionary for mobiles. A player has 30 seconds to draw a picture, and then push it out to opponents who try to guess what it is. 

hackathon winners

Peter Lindgren, Lukas Gustavsson and Hendrik Pettersson from Visiarc were delighted to pick-up the 50,000 Euro prize. Lindgren said: “We wanted to develop an app on Windows phone. That was the opportunity the competition afforded us. We wanted to be the first to have access to the new hardware.”

It didn’t quite work out like that. The developers were working with prototypes of the new phones until the official launch of Nokia Lumia on Wednesday morning, and intermittent internet reception meant that they couldn’t actually play their game until Thursday afternoon. 

“I’m shocked that we won,” said Lindgren. “We’re really a document company, but our advantage is that we work with tons of users and pushing information back and forth. The game we developed, Duudle, draws on those advantages.”

Visiarc is better known for developing enterprise software, including the Mobile Document app that was developed in Nokia Beta Labs

“We wanted to explore our less serious side,” said Hendrik Pettersson, “but when we saw some of the game developers that were here – including the guys behind Fruit Ninja – we thought we had no chance.”

Normally their work takes longer than 40 hours: “I came with some drawings in my bag, and we created the logo, Lindgren said, “ and that was it. The key to developing a great app is simplicity, you strip away, and strip away – and a ticking clock is great for generating that kind of focus.”

Then Visiarc take their cheque and champagne and drift away, happy and dazed, to get some sleep.

The other finalists in the Nokia World Hackathon 2011 included Tieto with a mobile polling app, and Seattle-based Viafo who developed an app to coordinate blood donation.