On September 5-10, ITMO University hosted the hackathon DATA PRODUCT HACK with support from Napoleon IT. One of the tracks offered to participants included the task to create an algorithm that will merge together thousands of different handwritten texts of the words “St. Petersburg” (in Russian: Санкт-Петербург).

“This is the first time when citizens of St. Petersburg had the chance to personally contribute to developing a logo for the city. We saw many people who readily joined the initiative. Now, we are happy to present the results of the project to the whole city,” shares Ruslan Akhtyamov, head of strategy at Napoleon IT.

To participate in the project, interested citizens had to simply upload a picture of their handwritten “St. Petersburg” on the project’s website. At the same time, ITMO’s volunteers approached passers-by on the street to collect their versions of the new logo. As a result, a total of 15,000 “texts” were collected.

Then, using the neural network developed at DATA PRODUCT HACK, students of the Machine Learning Engineering Master’s program co-run by ITMO and Napoleon IT were able to amalgamate all of these submissions and turn them into several unique new images for the city.

 DATA PRODUCT HACK hackathon supported by ITMO and Napoleon IT. Photo by Maria Bakina / Megabyte Media

 DATA PRODUCT HACK hackathon supported by ITMO and Napoleon IT. Photo by Maria Bakina / Megabyte Media

The hackathon’s winning team, Wine Learning Engineering, didn’t just stop at solving the suggested case, they also developed a ready-to-use product – a Telegram bot that can generate a unique postcard. Its users just have to submit a secret message that will be used to generate the word “St. Petersburg”, as well as choose the color of the letters and their background image.

“Our students had the task to create a product using AI and generative neural networks. The idea was to give everyone the opportunity to contribute to the new logo through these new technologies, because they will take every contribution into account. In the hands of professionals, this tool can change our perception of beauty and aesthetics through a combination of art, technology, and science,” says Dmitry Botov, an associate professor at ITMO and the head of AI Talent Hub and the Machine Learning Engineering Master’s program. 

This initiative was supported by St. Petersburg’s Science and Higher Education Committee, the Committee for Youth Policy and Cooperation with Public Organizations, and the Committee for Tourism Development, as well as the city’s tourist information office.