Retail Innovation at HackZurich

From October 10th to 12th, HackZurich, Switzerland largest hackathon with famous sponsors such as Google and Apple, will take place at the Technopark venue in Zurich. 300 participants from across the globe gather for a 40-hours-nonstop-hacking-marathon in which the first team gets to win a sensational reward of CHF 25’000. Offering nine different workshops, the organizers enable developers to get their hands on valuable data assets and to build mobile applications designed to solve real-world challenges.

GS1 has joined forces together with Migros – Switzerland’s largest retailer – and the Auto-ID Labs ETH / HSG in order to host the API-workshop «Retail Innovation» at HackZurich. During the workshop, participating developers will receive access to product information, point-of-sale information and meet experts from the industry – always aiming to develop break-through mobile applications that will change the way we shop.
With mobile applications on the rise, the retail industry is on the verge to a new era. Today, eCommerce still accounts for less than 10% of total retail sales – leaving the majority of the industry disconnected from our digital lives. Smartphone apps have the potential to connect physical commerce to the Internet and to bring retailing into the digital age. However, most app developers today struggle with a lack of standards as well as access to APIs and datasets.

Retail + API = Innovation
The Auto-ID Labs have teamed up with GS1, Migros and other leading industry players to break down these barriers. In a worldwide unique set-up the industry is opening up their APIs and data-pools to developers. New retail apps can help consumers to make better shopping decisions, discover new products, find alternatives, track and evaluate your shopping behavior (e.g. quantified self), recommend products, get direct links to brands, improve your health, save money and CO2, find bargains and discounts close to you, promote regional or labeled products, etc.

The APIs that will be provided for HackZurich and which eventually will be made available towards the public in the future will allow developers to build state-of-the-art mobile applications:

  • Identifying products (including barcode scanning)
  • Getting product information (including product images, nutrition and allergy information)
  • Finding stores and checking availability & prices (including local promotions)
  • Working with digital receipts and transaction data (including point-of-sale data analysis)
  • Providing smart context for your app (including a way to determine demographics based on installed apps)

Results: New mobile applications
The most promising prototypes and applications will be presented here: after the 40-hours-programming-session has been completed and the jury has picked the winning teams.

Klaus Fuchs

If you have any questions, please contact:

Klaus Fuchs, Senior Researcher
Auto-ID Labs ETH Zurich / HSG
ETH Zurich WEV G214
Information Management    
Department of Management, Technology, and Economics
Weinbergstrasse 56-58
8092 Zurich
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Further information can be found here:

Auto-ID Labs ETH / HSG
The Auto-ID Labs are the leading global research network of academic laboratories in the field of Internet of Things. The labs comprise seven labs at MIT, University of Cambridge, KAIST, Fudan University, Keio University, and University of Adelaide. The labs believe that the next generation of the Internet of Things can revolutionize global commerce and provide previously unrealizable consumer benefits. The primary research partner is GS1 – a not-for-profit organization that is renowned for establishing standards for global commerce such as introducing barcodes to the retail industry almost 40 years ago. The labs aim to add the consumer to the currently B2B-oriented business model of GS1 and explore opportunities for new hardware, software, business processes and applications including Linked Open Data for Products and Services.

Migros is Switzerland's largest retail company, its largest supermarket chain and largest employer.

GS1 – a technology enabler on a global scale
GS1 is an international organization focused on standards for global commerce. GS1 is responsible for introducing barcodes to the retail industry almost 40 years ago. The current GS1 Management Board comprises executives from Wal-Mart, Amazon, Tesco, Google, Nestle, Coca-Cola, Walgreens, and more. GS1 – being a global standards organization – is interested in fostering innovation and evaluating needs for new global standards and interfaces. Currently, GS1 is covering 110 countries, serving over a million companies across the world, executing more than six billion transactions daily using GS1 standards.


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