SPH Digital takes top prize at digital media hackathon

The five-member team, including team leader Lim Huishan (middle) from Singapore Press Holdings that won the top prize at a digital media hackathon on Sunday for their personalised news app "Beans". -- PHOTO: SPH
The five-member team, including team leader Lim Huishan (middle) from Singapore Press Holdings that won the top prize at a digital media hackathon on Sunday for their personalised news app "Beans". -- PHOTO: SPH

SINGAPORE - A news app which learns the reading habits of its users and compiles a list of related articles has won the top prize at a media app development competition.

The app, Beans, was designed by a team from the digital advertising division of media group Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) which is called SPH Digital.

Essentially, as readers continue to use Beans, it would learn their preferences, and put together a personalised "playlist" of news for each user.

The team also proposed revenue models, such as micro-payment for full access, where readers can pay a small amount of money to get limited-time access to premium content behind the paywall.

Beans was one of the 12 entries at the Digital Media Asia Hack competition that ended on Sunday.

Over the weekend at the Microsoft Auditorium, teams attempted new ways to produce, package and distribute news content in the hackathon organised by World Association of Newspapers and Publishers (Wan-Ifra), SPH Digital and Nanyang Technological University Newsplex Asia.

On the win, Ms Lim Huishan, the team leader behind Beans and who is a business intelligence manager at SPH Digital, said: "It was an interesting experience to see all the different teams having different interpretations of what the 'Search and Discovery' theme meant. We were honoured to be accorded the top prize."

Her team members comprise Huang Jianwei, Eric Tan, Sue Kah Yong and Yao Dianchen.

Coming in second, was interactive news app Noisy, created by app development company Noise Street featuring quizzes and games based on news content.

#SNT -which stands for supernatural travel - took third place. A travel planning app with a supernatural twist, the app by a group of Temasek Polytechnic students displays haunted spots in Singapore and lets users plan itineraries including these sites.

The judging panel comprised the following:

Mr Gilles Demptos, director, Asia, Wan-Ifra, Singapore

Ms Tan Su-Lin, deputy head, SPH Digital, Singapore (who abstained from voting for all three SPH Digital teams that entered the competition)

Mr Alan Soon, managing editor, Yahoo! Southeast Asia, Singapore

Mr Kim Svendsen, marketing manager, CCI Europe, Sweden

Mr Lennon Teng, co-founder, Notiphi, Singapore

The winning team won $2,500 worth of prizes, an Amazon Web Services Activate Portfolio Package and a chance to pitch their idea to venture capitalist Golden Gate Ventures.

The top three teams will demonstrate their winning solution at the Digital Media Asia conference on Nov 19.

chuimin@sph.com.sg

lesterh@sph.com.sg