It was the summer of 2013. I had just got a new Windows Phone for my birthday, a Lumia 720. After about a month or so playing with this device, being the tinkerer that I am, I wanted to get started on making apps for Windows Phone as soon as possible. The obvious question arose. How do I start??? I had made a few apps on my Nokia 5800XM before, but this was completely different. I had a whole summer to waste and more importantly, a good internet connection. I started gathering as much info as possible.

I was taught Visual Basic in school.

That's right, VB6 was awesome.

I spent many an afternoon during my school days messing around writing small programs that changed my wallpaper everyday, helped me do certain tasks at startup or a music player with a music library, complete playlist support, changeable skins, drag and drop and a minimized play controls toolbar. Ok, the music player was kinda big, considering I was 13 then. Yeah, yeah I know. I like to brag every now and then. Anyway, I soon realized that VB was not very different from VB.NET (duhhh) and started doing those Hello World! and example apps right away in VB.NET. I absolutely loved the fact that the language I had spent so much time with in school could be used here as well. I followed the tutorial videos from Channel9 and was soon good to go. Just one problem.

I didn't know what to make.

Almost magically a contest appeared out of nowhere. This was the Nokia DoGood Hackathon Delhi 2013. Their description pretty much nailed it.

Ever felt like you had a really good idea for an app that could change people’s lives and make the world a better place? Perhaps the only thing stopping you from taking action was you didn’t know where to start, or thought no one else would be interested? Well, hear that sound? That is opportunity knocking on your door.

My dad suggested that I make an app on dental health. Interesting proposition. Anything related to dental health hardly induces excitement. I had to somehow make dental health fun. I thought about a few features an app like this could have, and came up with this list.

  • dental score calculator: find out if your teeth are older than you

  • dentist finder: locate a nearby dentist on the map

  • A SMILE METER! : rate your smile and share it with friends

  • important info about diseases: find out more about common dental diseases

I sent this list to the organizers and soon enough

I kept on working and came up with this:

I put it in the jokes below quite late in the development period. A random joke comes up every time you open the app. They were hard to find. I list them all here.

  • I see my dentist regularly! I see him at the post office, I see him at the market, I see him jogging...

  • "What filling would you like?" "Chocolate, please."

  • I've been to the dentist several times so I know the drill.

  • What does the dentist of the year get?…A little plaque

  • What did the dentist see at the North Pole?…A molar bear

  • Ten years without brushing causes horrible tooth decade.

  • Going to the dentist can be very full filling.

  • Ok now...we want the tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth.

  • Be true to your teeth and they won't be false to you.

  • I told my dentist my teeth are going yellow; he told me to wear a brown tie.

  • Smile. Sunshine is good for your teeth.

  • Smile. It lets your teeth breathe.

The dental score calculator worked on a simple principle. You answered some multiple choice questions and a score was calculated based on your answers. This was how the results from the questionnaire looked:

Next up, was the dentist finder. Nothing fancy here, just searched Bing maps for the keyword "dental". Could give  reasonable amount of results.

The Smile Meter ™®© was the most magical part of my app. You took a selfie with your camera and it gave you a rating based on your smile. It worked. No, really, it did work! For this to work, I had to employ an army of elves that processed the images and gave a rating in real time. Just kidding. The image was actually uploaded to a server that used a proprietary complex facial detection and recognition algorithm to identify, classify and gave a rating to your smile. Not kidding this time. This is how the results page evolved:


Ofcourse you could share your image on Facebook, Twitter and whatnot.

All that remained to be done was make a nice icon and a super stylish splash screen. Like this one:

The Nokia DoGood Hackathon Delhi 2013

And I was all set for the hackathon. You may be wondering why was this a hackathon if you could just make your app before you came. Yeah, well. That's what the organizers called it. Doesn't matter.

The hackathon was at a hotel called The Claremont in Gurgaon. Pretty nice hotel with a big lawn. I remember sleeping on the lawn at 4am because I had nothing better to do. Some photos of the event:


Yes. That is a Mac. A guy had brought his Desktop Mac to an event for Windows Phone app development. Strange world.

The hackathon started at around 2pm in the afternoon and ended at the same time the next day. We were supposed to code all day and night and give a presentation in front of a panel of judges the next day after breakfast. I was confident I was on top of this. I had my presentation ready, a clear and focused mind (despite the lack of sleep) and I was wearing my favourite shirt. Nothing could go wrong...

And well, nothing did. My presentation went without a hiccup. We were allotted 2 minutes, the panel actually extended my time. To demonstrate the smile meter, I actually jumped off stage and asked one of the judges to take a selfie and rate his smile. Thankfully, he got a solid 8.4 for his smile. That was a nice cherry on top of the pie.

There were lots of interesting apps and ideas out there and I felt proud and honoured to be in such company. Finally it was time for results. I was adjudged runners up and won a Lumia 820 :) Sadly I wasn't considered for AppCampus as my app couldn't be made into a full scale startup and didn't have much commercial potential.

And yes, the food was pretty good.