Lab of New is one of Talented’s carefully chosen partners, a consultancy startup that was founded in February 2017 with the help of Reaktor. The team consists of 11 pros, mostly Software Developers and Designers and we are helping them to hire the créme de la créme to join the core team to build the company together.
One of the coolest things about Lab of New is their focus on learning and using new and upcoming technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning with the aim of landing projects where these techs can be utilized in practice.
One way they learn is by doing. So once every quarter the whole team gets together somewhere awesome, take out their laptops, props, whiskey and learn new things together – they call it Lab Time.
I was lucky enough to get invited to Lab Time with the team, where the agenda of the event consisted of coding AI for LEGO robots!!
The lucky venue chosen to host us, 11 people and 3 robots, was Villa Hummerheim, an amazing seaside villa 30mins from Helsinki city centre with not one, not two, but three different saunas to choose from, how friggin’ Finnish is that?
After a quick brekkie and a runthrough of the location’s bleak Soviet history it was time to build the robots, in other words – play with LEGOs. In addition to the music in the background for a long time the only sound in the air was the subtle clicking of the keyboard as the developers were coding away.
The first challenge for the robots was a simple “move forward and stop at the red line”. All of the robots managed to recognize the red tape and stop! My mind was already blown at this point, but wait, there’s more. In the next challenge all the robots successfully finished a oval track by recognizing the outlines which were marked with different coloured tapes. After this it was time for dinner and utilizing the amazing facilities for our entertainment.
The last of the challenges, the main event, was a fight to the death the next morning. And I’m not talking about the struggle to get to the breakfast table at 9am after an epic night of testing out the saunas, playing pool and making music until the little hours. The three robots, Hal “the Terminator” 3000, PeLAKU and Mayhem, started from opposite ends of the fighting ring as Eye of the Tiger played, and it was on. It only took 5-10 minutes but man, was it intense! Some of the bots did better, like the Terminator with its weapon of a spinning ratchet and swift random turns, others, well, seemed confused but were equally deadly with swinging swords and all kinds of other weaponry in their arsenals. Finally it was indeed the spinning ratchet that won the war, by literally un-plugging its opponents power supply. Our congrats go to Niko, Gonçalo and Kimmo, the makers and puppet masters of Hal the Terminator!
As Talented has a view into nearly a 100 IT companies in Finland we see that many of them take their employees on outings, trips abroad and arrange all kinds of fun activities to build team spirit(s), pun intended. However, in my opinion, Lab Time is a unique idea. Passionate people doing what they love, learning and keeping up with the industry trends all the while growing their expertise not to forget having fun, drinking and getting to know each other. We cannot wait to see how Lab Time will evolve as the company matures. As one “Laboriginee”, Kimmo Kuisma, put it, Lab Time is “Fun but useful. We’re not just boozing together, not that there’s anything wrong with that”.