The concept of a hackathon is old hat by now, but they aren’t any less useful when put in the right context. Specifically, when large organisations give ordinary coders and developers access to amazing information, some incredibly useful tools can be produced.

So it is with the wearable space, which is only beginning to heat up after the recent release of Google’s Android Wear OS. As a result. American Airlines teamed up with Wearable World, which helps introduce start-ups to wearable technology, to run an in-flight hackathon.

Most of the development happened on the ground, with teams given 24 hours to come up with a wearable app for travellers. Once in the air, they were able to make some adjustments and show them to passengers.

Once on the plane, teams were able to actually test their apps to make sure they worked. The winner was an app that allows family and friends to track you during travel – people tracking your movements get updates about where you are in your state of travel.

Another app allows you to connect with other passengers on your plane – and automatically detects if you have any mutual friends on Facebook or LinkedIn.

The future of wearable technology will depend on apps like these – services that actually benefit the user rather than just providing a benefit no one wants or uses. But the hackathon also proves the point that as new technology enters the marketplace, open information and access to APIs will only strengthen the use of that technology.

Open innovation such as the in-flight hackathon are a signpost to the future – new form factors will depend on this type of innovation. But it’s businesses that will see the biggest benefit – when they open their internal information and actually provide developers the chance to create better ways for that business to communicate, innovate and transact.