From 24-26 April Estonian information technology (IT) students attended the Skype University Hackathon 2015, which was organised by Skype and the Information Technology Foundation for Education (Estonian acronym: HITSA), developing 13 new IT solutions in the process. The best projects included a cheap travel app and image recognition software.

The development weekend saw 49 participants from three Estonian institutions of higher education take part, from undergraduates to doctoral students and lecturers. There were also foreign students studying at Estonian universities; in total, the participants represented 15 different countries. During the development weekend the participants came up with 13 projects, from among which the winner and recipients of special prizes were chosen.

Andriy Bondarenko, Ostap Maliuvanchuk, Yevhenii Sabanin and Rodion Sabanin from the University of Tartu were chosen as the best team taking part in the development weekend. The winners produced an app called Tripmatch, which allows people from different parts of the world to find the cheapest means of transport to come together in the destination picked by the user. The application could be particularly useful for those whose friends and family live abroad and who are looking for cheap ways to travel together.

In addition to the main prize, there were also special prizes. The IT Academy special prize was awarded to Face Recognition, the project with the greatest academic potential. The team of five people behind it included students from both the University of Tartu and Tallinn University, and in addition to four Estonians the group also had a foreign student from Nepal. The team members were Tambet Matiisen, Konstantin Tretjakov, Ardi Tampuu, Kristjan Järvan and Amar Bahadur Gurung. Together they developed a programme that helps find people with similar facial features to people today from images taken from various databases. For example, the software helps find people with facial features similar to celebrities or to people in the databases of the National Archives. For this purpose the user must upload a picture at or The software looks for faces in the image and calculates a code to characterise each face. This is then compared to the codes of other faces in the database, which displays those that are the most similar.

“In the future we would like to offer a facial recognition service to image banks (such as Scanpix and the image banks of Äripäev and Delfi) and other archives,” said Matiisen, giving examples of the possible uses of the software. “We could also use image recognition software in other fields, like identifying signs of pneumonia on X-rays.”

Skype Estonia awarded the second special prize to the project Kinecting People, made by students from the Estonian IT College, the University of Tartu and Tallinn University. During the development weekend the team made an app that connects the Kinect camera to Skype and lets users make their conversations more playful. Microsoft Estonia awarded the third special prize to the project Super Nimble, which simplifies and improves the work of customer management systems.

The teams that participated in the Skype University Hackathon 2015 were judged by a panel of six people: lecturer Margus Ernits from the Estonian IT College; senior research fellow Peep Küngas from the University of Tartu; Professor David Lamas from Tallinn University; docent Juhan Ernits from Tallinn University of Technology; and Andrus Järg, the director of Skype Estonia.

The main organisers of the Skype University Hackathon 2015 were the HITSA IT Academy and Skype Estonia. The event was sponsored by the marketing agency HYPE.

The copyright in the projects and IT solutions completed during the development weekend is held by the teams in question and their further implementation and development will be decided by each team.

Further information:
Marily Hendrikson
Study IT in Estonia Programme manager
+372 628 5811