“Hooray, the end of the year!” is the chant that echoes in many corporate hallways when Christmas is nearing. Lots of people take time off at the end of the year to find some quiet and “recharge their batteries” for the next one. Most people that do decide to keep working are — unknowingly — nearing the least productive week they’ve had in a long time.
“Nothing new here” you think while you zoom out on our planet again. You notice the back of your head itching and realize that you have been wearing your VR glasses for way too long now. You sigh softly and start scratching your hair. Empty-headedly, you decide to give a last good spin to the sphere in front of you before taking the headset off. With a glazed look you see the world spinning in front of you until something odd catches your attention.
“What in the hell was that?” you stutter while you start zooming in again. You take a closer look and count that there are four corporate hallways that are kinda unusual, atypical.. weird even.
In Ghent, Amsterdam, Berlin and Zurich, you find one corresponding hallway where people just don’t seem to be planning much holidays, nor are they preparing for a soothing week to conclude the year. Instead, you find that these hallways share an exciting feeling that is starting to build up in the days and weeks prior to Christmas. Soft whispers are turning into audible muffles, people start to move in quicker ways and the atmosphere is filling with longing. When the Christmas trees are being decorated the atmosphere spills over and the muffles turn into cries of exhilaration.
“Finally” you hear.
“Finally.. The ML6 Xmas Projects are back in town!”
Contrary to popular belief, our Xmas Projects are not related to the secret ingredient with which this monkey called Jojo created the Powerpuff Girls.
Even though we haven’t — yet — been able to fully understand the chemistry of that particular event, we do have a good understanding of the chemistry our Xmas Projects bring about. And it’s worth writing a blogpost over.
Xmas Projects are hackathon-like projects in which people lay down their day-to-day job for some time and get together out of common interest to explore new tools, learn tech and make an impact! The first edition of the Xmas Projects dates back to 2018 and have since been spanning the Christmas and New Year period. Over time, the concept has become an integral part of the way of working at ML6.
ML6 facilitates the necessary hardware/compute for the accepted Xmas Projects to realise their ideas. And indeed — instead of taking holidays, a lot of people actually prefer to work together with colleagues on these initiatives. Each year, an increasing amount of work is being put into all of our Xmas Projects, reaching another record of 230 manday equivalents in this last edition! 🔥
To maximize the impact and minimize overhead or restrictions, we have concretized all the necessary phases:
As you might have guessed by now, Xmas Projects involve a substantial investment of people, time and resources.
Of course, we never do something without a reason 😉. Over the years we’ve seen that there are quite a number of benefits linked to this initiative!
Last edition, we decided to split the Xmas Projects into three logical clusters.
We’ve worked on a total of five projects for Non-Profit Organisations that would otherwise not have the budget or resources to tackle their problems with the help of AI. The work we’ve done in this pillar ties neatly with one our six core values, being “Do good”. Interested to submit your ideas, or the ideas of the Non-Profit Organisation you represent? Have a look at our dedicated landing page! ✨
Three out of eleven Xmas Projects of the last edition were geared towards pushing the newest techniques we’ve encountered in the last year and find out how they shine in a practical context.
Ever wanted someone to draw you like one of their French girls? Wait no more.. In this Xmas Project we created an interface for our smart mirror, replacing famous painted faces with yours!
I know you’re not perfect. I know you agreed to terms and conditions you never read or understood, just like the rest of us. Why are these documents so cumbersome and long anyways? Everyone hates them — and that’s why we decided to build a browser add-on to help you digest the most important stuff in it.
I can’t really say anything about this one. Can you keep a secret though? It’s about a new application to use and train GAN’s and the demo was really cool, believe me. It’s gonna be big, so stay tuned!
I know people think we at ML6 try to match our consumption of steroids to the amount of quick tips we externalize. But that’s a lie. We just happen to be very muscular, you know. 😎
The goal of this pillar is to test side ideas originated from the work we did on client related projects during the year. The findings from these Xmas Projects often give the client project an innovative boost, or bring interesting insights!
Hackers are boring (except the white hat hackers, these peeps are chill). Because hackers end up trying the same hacks all over, Google Cloud has come up with a tool called Cloud Armor that is able to protect your applications from general hacking attacks. Pretty sweet right! We thought it’d be cool to also visualize where and which attacks we are protected from. Entering the ML6 Cyber Threat Map! If you’re interested, my colleague Rob Vandenberghe already wrote a blogpost about the topic.
We have been building up lots of expertise in the real estate sector, spanning different clients (including FedNot). When it comes to detecting house prices, ML practitioners mostly work with classic columnar data. In this Xmas Project we wanted to find out whether adding visual data or textual data improves prediction performance.
At ML6 we not only like to do sports together, but also work on sports data together! We’ve done multiple projects in the sports sector, including a really interesting football match analytics use-case. Over the years we found out that sports including small objects (particular ball sports mostly) involve extra complexities. No better sport to do analysis for than ping-pong in that regard! During this Xmas Project we have been looking into both the audio and visual aspects for registration and event detection.
For four years in a row, ML6 halts their typical business and undergoes a transformation from a specialized AI consultancy firm to a multi-week hackathon facilitator in which ML6 agents get to spend time on projects they feel most attracted to. Both parts of this duality contribute to what we do best: accelerate intelligence.
Xmas Projects are great. They are innovative by nature and enable people to think atypical and big. The way we designed Xmas Projects ensures that we are challenged in aspects we simply don’t see popping up in our daily jobs, are able to make a social impact and have a lot of fun at the same time.
Personally speaking, I think it’s one of the most enjoyable and rewarding parts of working at ML6.
What’s keeping you from organising a similar concept in your organisation, or joining us?