(c) Places _ VR Festival / Ole-Kristian Heyer

Making the web safer - in just 24 hours!

Whether it’s hacker attacks, espionage or security breaches – problems around the topic of IT and data security occupy corporations and start-ups, municipalities and ministries. During the 24 hours of this year’s Places _ VR Hackathon, the focus was precisely on this. How can a more secure IT world be created – and with the help of VR or AR?

We found the concrete challenges for 20 hackers from near and far right on our doorstep. The company Xingsys is based on Bochumer Straße in Gelsenkirchen-Ückendorf and focuses on IT security in the field of authentication. TrustCerts and Aware7 are located in the Science Park, the venue of the Places _ VR Hackathon 2021. Their focus is on blockchain certificates and IT security training, pentesting and awareness, respectively. Each of the Gelsenkirchen start-ups has set a challenge from their own everyday business life and thus challenged the hackers to build a prototype in 24 hours that contributes to solving everyday problems.

The hackers in this year’s competition not only came from very different professions and subject areas, but in some cases also from far away. One participant travelled 1500 kilometres from Barcelona to Gelsenkirchen to meet other VR enthusiasts and to deepen his own knowledge about VR.

How did the hackathon work?

The challenges were presented, the teams were formed and then it started. Friday 16:00 – Start of Coding! The teams set up at their workstations, discussed and brainstormed their ideas, fleshed them out and started implementing them. Meanwhile, there was a quick tutorial in the graphics engine “Unity” and a pizza & coaching dinner to which the programme partners and universities of the DIVR Science Award were invited. Here, the previous concepts and technical approaches were discussed and optimised together.

On Saturday afternoon (4 p.m.) the final whistle blew and all teams had to stop working. The jury, led by Farina Hamann, Prof. Dr. Norbert Pohlmann and Wolfgang Jung, looked at the prototypes and solutions and put the applications through their paces. And what the jury could see were once again amazing results, considering the production period of only 24 hours.

(c) Places _ VR Festival / Ole-Kristian Heyer

(c) Places _ VR Festival / Ole-Kristian Heyer

Teams & prototypes:

How can I verify my identity in virtual reality and thus efficiently protect certain closed areas in the virtual world from unauthorised access? For this purpose, the GestureID team has transferred the classic gesture decryption known from mobile phones into three-dimensional space and built a 3x3x3 verification grid from the 3×3 grid.

In its prototype, the team has attempted to convey the complex topic of blockchain in a playful way. Instead of a sober description, you become part of the decentralised blockchain network.


RVSecure – or in other words Are We Secure? The solution is VR – We Are! The team’s prototype puts you in a typical office workplace full of security and privacy gaps. From the password on the mail IT to scam emails in the inbox to the mobile phone number on the whiteboard, the application simulates the security risks of an office job. The task is to find and eliminate all dangers before leaving the room.  The jury praised the great practical relevance and easy adaptability for everyday office life.

Phishing or not – that is the question here. Under constant stress, emails arrive in the VR simulation that the user has to register and then decide directly: Dangerous phishing mail or authentic message from customers or employees. If the wrong decision is made, the stress factor increases due to noises and the changing environment.

(c) Places _ VR Festival / Ole-Kristian Heyer


After the jury’s deliberations and following the pitches as well as an online vote for the audience award, the following winners were determined.

Kategorie: Bester prototype
Gewinner: RVSecure
Gewinn: 2.500 Euro sponsored by  Sparkasse Gelsenkirchen 

The jury praised the group’s prototype for its great practical relevance and easy adaptability for everyday office use.

Kategorie: Beste idea
Gewinner: GestureID
Gewinn: 1.000 Eurosponsored by IHK Nord Westfalen

The jury was particularly impressed by the smart use of the three-dimensional space for more safety and more comfort at the same time.

Kategorie: Public vote
Gewinner: Blockchaine
Gewinn: 500€ Euro sponsored by Ceconomy AG

Watch it again now: The Hackathon award ceremony in re-live video


(c) Places _ VR Festival / Ole-Kristian Heyer