My first Hackathon! Jazz Hands

I had my first hackathon three weeks ago. So much fun! 
So what did I build?
An app to display pre-existing captions in the cinema for the deaf and hearing impaired. Sounds cool? Read on.

The Problem

Deaf people can’t hear movies. I’m deaf. I use this. It is essentially a giant dongle that sits in the cupholder and displays the captions of the movie. For me it is awesome.

A wonderful concept, but executed poorly

A wonderful concept, but executed poorly

However this large paraphernalia is large and embarrassing to parade around with. None of my deaf friends use it. Sometimes I arrive at the cinemas and the dongle is flat. That really ruins my evening. A flat dongle is pretty useless. I wish I could just pull out my phone and watch the captions like this instead…

Got my captions on my phone!

Got my captions on my phone!

I already have the subtitle file (its online). So I made an auto syncing caption player.

I decided to use a voice recognition API, and listen for parts of the audio, and “fire” the caption player in time with the movie. It sounds so simple, but it took a whole weekend! (A more detailed explanation of the problem)

The cool things I learned while doing this hack:

Delegation

Delegating to other team members is difficult. But if you find a nice chunk of self contained work and hand it off properly you can literally clone your efforts! Haha super powers!

Swift is changing swiftly

Swift (the iOS language) is a slippery beast. A wonderful clean language in violent flux. Every snippet in StackOverflow, needs a few dozen changes before it works which tends to shake my confidence.

Also, searching for answers to 'swift' problems tends to get this result:

Searching for answers on swift related problems...

Searching for answers on swift related problems...

Apple loves squeezing money out of you

Signing apps in Xcode sucks. I had so many headaches trying to deploy to my actual device. Apple is starting to restrict the usage of certain API’s (siriKit) to those with a $150 paid developer licence. That really sucks. Apple also only allows 10 app IDs every 7 days for an unpaid developer. Be warned.

Apple charges you to build things for them : (

Apple charges you to build things for them : (

People with different skill sets teach surprising things

While my dad (yes he was hacking away too) was building the subtitle player, I paired with Brian, a fellow from Queensland Health IT. He works in IT support. He was dubious about his value as a hacking dev but together we were awesome.

Go Team!

Go Team!

Pairing with Brian kept the up the momentum and armed me with a fresh set of eyes. As an administrator he had excellent experience in making sense of error logs and hunting down hidden configurations when we were wiring things together. I learned a lot from his approach.

With 2 hours to go, I finally had a viable demo to show the judges! Commit! Push! Beer!

pastedImage_18.jpg

We got second place! However the real reward was enjoying my Steve Jobs moment in front of the judging panel. I played the movie, started the app… and hey presto! The captions appeared and synchronised perfectly!

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Thanks to all who helped run the event. I will be a big advocate for this one next year!
And a very special mention to my Perth counterparts who completed a beautiful user interface in a sister project during the same hack!

Brisbane 2016: The Winners

The HealthHack 2016 Brisbane event was held at River City Labs. It ran from Friday night to Sunday afternoon (14-16 Oct 2016).

HealthHack is a different hackathon event in that it brings the problems to the hackers. There’s no need to validate the market or the value proposition as the problems come from researchers and staff working in the health & sciences fields.

Whatever team you end up working on you know that what you’re doing is important.Whatever you can do to aid in solving your team’s problem is guaranteed to make a big difference out in the real world.

Every team did something interesting and valuable at HealthHack and I’d encourage you to check out the HealthHack website to see the details of all of these.

I’ve focused only on the winners from the Brisbane event here, but the prizes are only there as icing on the cake. The real rewards are working on the problems themselves and working with the problem owners. That’s what I really love about HealthHack: No matter what happens everyone ends up winners.

Speaking from the point of view of someone who was part of a team that didn’t win anything this year, but who was part of the team that took out first place last year, I can honestly say the satisfaction I got from both events was the same.

I have some other posts if you want to read more about our team’s experience at HealthHack or the solution that we pitched.

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

Super Friends Against Superbugs

Problem Pitch

Using the newly developed thumb drive-sized MinION genome sequencer and the fast results it provides, Miranda and Alan pitched a project to track the spread of antibiotic resistance in real time. You can see a detailed explanation of the problem on the HealthHack website.

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

Working on the project

This was a really ambitious & talented team and they worked on a lot of different features that leveraged the MinION device data. They ended up delivering prototypes for most of them.

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

Final Pitch

The Superbugs team came up with a prototype web app that generated reports for medical staff and displayed outbreaks on a map. Most of all they significantly improved the speed at which this was able to be done as compared to the existing systems. It was no surprise they took out first place.

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

Jazz Hands

Problem Pitch

The problem Julian Scharf pitched was taking the existing subtitles device provided by movie theatres for deaf people into an app. The problem was coming up with a alternative solution for cueing the subtitles to match the movie that was being played on the theatre screen on a device that was less obtrusive and more accessible than what is currently used (your own phone). “Jazz Hands” is sign language for applause, a very appropriate team name for this project. 

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

Working on the project

This team worked in co-operation with another team in Perth who had formed around the same problem (which had been pitched over there as well). They were the only team spread over two locations at HealthHack.

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

Final Pitch

The team got a prototype app working that used voice recognition to help identify the place to cue the subtitles so they would be in-sync with the movie playing. They bravely did a live demo in their pitch and….it worked! They were a very popular second place.

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

Hungry Cells “Saving Grandpa”

Problem Pitch

Jerome Goldstein pitched finding a way to manage cardiology patients and their data more efficiently. Currently the management of patient progress through the various stages of cardiology treatment is kept in a series of Excel spreadsheets which need to be manually updated as new information is collected. You can see a detailed explanation of the problem on the HealthHack website.

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

Working on the project

This was one of the smallest teams at HealthHack, but they still managed to produce quite a lot over the weekend.

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

Final Pitch

The team delivered a working database to replace the current spreadsheet so that patient information could be updated and accessed securely and easily by all medical staff. The database they built they actually deployed on QLD health’s servers thus proving it could be used in production. They picked up a well deserved third place.

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

Design Award winners

The Design Awards went to 5 teams: We've Got Guts, Stemflow, Urban Jungles, Super Friends Against Super Bugs, and Jazz Hands.

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

Spirit of HealthHack winners

Myself, Elliot Smith & Mark Promnitz won the Spirit of HealthHack awards.

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

Elliot's team spent the weekend dealing with a very difficult dataset that comprised individual brain map files which were terabytes in size. Combined with that the existing project had an enormous codebase that took ages for the team to compile before they could even get started. This problem had been brought to last year’s HealthHack and although it interested many people, the complexity of the dataset combined with the size of the images scared everyone off. Elliot’s team took maybe the hardest problem from this year’s HealthHack on.

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

I didn’t find a team to join on the Friday so I spent the time going around to the teams and helping them work through their problems to try and see all the possible angles they could attack them from. On Saturday I joined up with a problem owner, Dr Kenan Kalayci, and a couple of other people who hadn’t found teams to do a project for the problem Kenan had brought to HealthHack; overcharging and overtreatment in the dental market. Throughout the hack, as well working with my team, I dropped in on other teams and talked over problems they were working through and offered up an alternative viewpoint to help them with their problems.

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

image courtesy of Randall Austin

image courtesy of Randall Austin

Mark ended up leaving the team he had originally come to HealthHack with to join the We've Got Guts team led by problem owner Jake Begun who wanted to track and predict disease activity in IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). The team originally didn’t have any coders so Mark joined them to help round out their skillset. Mark played a major role in the prototype they delivered and the final pitch. The team couldn’t have done it without him.

image courtesy of Randall Austin

image courtesy of Randall Austin

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

Supreme Coder winner

Thea Koutsoukis won the supreme coder award. She worked with the Hungry Cells team who picked up third place. The team ended up deploying a .NET application which Thea worked on. The interesting thing here is Thea had no .NET experience before this weekend but was still able to hack something together, that worked, over the weekend. A worthy supreme coder winner indeed.

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

Picture perfect

The pictures in this article came from a few sources. Each picture has a link in it out to the creator’s site except for those I took and those from the HealthHack promotional material.

Dr Nick Hamilton, find him on TwitterFlickr & at UQ.

Sue Pillans, find her on Twitter and her at her website

Randall Austin, find him on Twitter

There’s lots more at Roisin McMahon’s Storify of the HealthHack Brisbane 2016 event to dig into if you are interested (aka you are interested; it’s very worth it).

HealthHack 2016 Sponsors - Thank you!

Of course none of this would have been possible without the sponsors. Thanks to all of them for making HealthHack happen. Please check them out via the links below.

ItocRiver City LabsThoughtWorksRCCBlueChilliCanvaQueensland GovernmentUQ Institute for Molecular BioscienceAmazon Web ServicesQCIFiLab at UQData61Open KnowledgeJetBrainsGitHubYOW! Australia

healthhack sponsors.png

 

Originally posted on Linkedin

The golden dentists @ Brisbane 2016

I went to the Brisbane 2016 event and saw a lot of interesting problems pitched there from a wide range of problem owners.

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

After the pitches had finished we started the process of forming teams around the problem  owners. I worked with a few of the teams that night to help them better understand their problem. There wasn't any one team I could find that I thought really needed my help full time so I held off joining a team that night. The organisers encouraged me to come back on Saturday and even if I didn't end up joining a team, just keep doing what I had been doing that Friday night and going around and helping teams work on their problems, working in a mentor role.

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

Come Saturday morning one of the problem owners from Friday night, Kenan, had not been able to secure anyone to work on his problem which was: Overtreatment and overcharging in the dental services market. He also raised the possibility of separating diagnosis and treatment services to encourage competition as a potential solution.
 

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

I sat down with Kenan and another person who had been unable to find a team Friday night, Randall, and we decided, after some initial conversations, to work on this problem. One of the volunteers, Gareth, overheard our discussions and was interested enough that he decided to join our team for the weekend as well. The problem Kenan had brought was quite large and didn't have an obvious solution to start work on. So we started working on better defining the problem and potential solutions.

saturday our final planning is done - edited.jpg

We were very lucky to get some time on Saturday with one of Brisbane’s most experienced dentists, Dr Michael Foley. Dr Foley is a former president of the Queensland Dental Association. After talking through our initial ideas with him we significantly cut the scope of our initial plans.  we validated a core problem with him and we also got an idea for a solution. Dr Foley was little short of awesome and we really enjoyed the time he was able to spend with us. He has been an advocate for some time for fluoride in the water supply and has been instrumental in leading the charge against scare campaigns from anti-fluoride groups.   

We gathered all the information we had gotten from speaking with Dr Foley and then we set about defining our killer idea/problem really tightly and designing a solution that solved for it. Because of the time left and the type of solution we had chosen, we decided to build to the pitch rather than attempt to build a fully working solution. After discussing the different types of pitch we could do we ended up settling on a theory and design heavy pitch. However we decided to still do a basic prototype just to show the functionality of a working service.

Come Saturday night we were in full building mode.

saturday dentist team building1.jpg

We dummied up a dataset to use with the prototype, started designing a basic pageflow that would explain the functionality of the service we wanted to build, and we started the outline of our pitch and identifying the components we still needed.

dummy receipt dataset

dummy receipt dataset

mock up of receipt capture

mock up of receipt capture

We finalized what we were going to build in terms of functionality about Sunday lunch and that left us a few hours to get a first draft of our pitch out before pitch practice with the River City Labs pitch mentors who had volunteered their time to help out the teams.

It was really interesting seeing the different presentation styles of the River City Labs start-up guys vs an economics lecturer (Kenan). Even though there was quite a divide between how you would pitch for investors and our pitch at HealthHack we still got a lot out of the feedback from the River City Labs mentors and we used all of it to make the pitch much better.

Kenan delivered great pitch at the end. Our project didn't win anything at HealthHack, but that was hardly a disappointment considering how wonderful the projects that did win were.

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

image courtesy of Dr Sue Pillans

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There were heaps of great solutions from this weekend. I fully expect a fair few of them to actually get up and into production in the near future. Some of them were pretty much ready to go into production at the end of the weekend.

Myself, Elliot Smith & Mark Promnitz won the Spirit of HealthHack awards.

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

In the end, more than the prizes, we all just really enjoyed working on and learning about areas we knew very little about before coming to HealthHack.

I really enjoyed the challenge of working with a team of people I hadn’t worked with before and working with a problem owner from a field very different to my own experience. It was a good challenge to take the team from the initial problem pitch through to finding and validating the core problem we wanted to solve and then to formulating a solution that solved for it and delivered, what we thought was, value to both consumers and dentists alike.

One last piece of wisdom from our dentist friend, Dr Foley: “If you are getting a crown get gold, especially if it’s one of the back teeth that no can see. Not only is it the best material for a crown but it's also the cheapest.”

It was from this nugget of knowledge we got our team name: Golden Dentists. I have some other posts if you want to read more about the solution we pitched or the event itself.

Picture perfect

The pictures in this article came from a few sources.

Each picture has a link in it out to the creator’s site except for those I took and from the HealthHack promotional material.

Dr Nick Hamilton, find him on Twitter, Flickr & at UQ.

Sue Pillans, find her on Twitter and her at her website

There’s lots more at Roisin McMahon’s Storify of the HealthHack Brisbane 2016 event to dig into if you are interested (aka you are interested; it’s very worth it).

HealthHack 2016 Sponsors - Thank you!

None of this would have been possible without the sponsors. Thanks to all of them for making HealthHack happen. Please check them out via the links below.

Itoc, River City Labs, ThoughtWorks, RCC, BlueChilli, Canva, Queensland Government, UQ  Institute for Molecular Bioscience, Amazon Web Services, QCIF, iLab at UQ, Data61, Open Knowledge, JetBrains, GitHub, YOW! Australia

healthhack sponsors.png

 

Originally posted on Linkedin

Karmen, a problem owner from Brisbane 2015

Hi there, my name is Karmen and I’m one of the organisers of the first HealthHack event in Canberra this year. But, my first encounter with HealthHack happened in Brisbane one year ago when I ended up participating as a problem owner, all thanks to Mitch Stanton-Cook…

At the time, I was a postdoc at the University of Queensland, working as a computational chemist on modelling membrane transport proteins. Many of these proteins are important drug targets and computational simulations provide a very detailed insights of the molecular motion and interactions with drugs. These simulations produce large files containing a lot of information and are computationally demanding to produce, but at the moment there is no repository that would support easy file sharing between researchers. So, I presented the idea of creating a repository for molecular dynamics simulation, named MDbox, at the HealthHack and was amazed by what can be achieved in such a short time!

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

This was primarily due to the small, but very awesome team that gathered around my idea, with most of the work carried out by Elliot Smith and Matthew Brown.

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

The entire concept of HealthHack was something very new to me; I enjoyed a different perspective to health problems and learned many new things over the course of the weekend, not to mention the enthusiasm of surrounding participants. Even better, our team won the second place!

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

But there’s more – just after the HealthHack in October last year, I moved to Canberra to take up another postdoc at ANU. Earlier this year, I successfully gained a grant from the ACT Innovation Development fund to develop my idea from HealthHack into a fully-fledged prototype. I have a lot to thank to HealthHack, which was definitely the first step in pursuing an idea that I had simmering for a long time. And look at me now – received funding to further develop my concept AND being a HealthHack organiser in Canberra!

 

Don’t miss your opportunity to make your ideas come true! Come and join us!

interview with Liz, a UX (User Experience) designer

How did you get involved in Health Hack? Did you come with a team?

I actually came to HealthHack completely on my own as it was only my second hackathon and I saw my colleague Steve Bennett was involved in one in another city. HealthHack was the first hackathon I’d seen coming up where there were defined project briefs posted before the hack began that already came with researched value propositions, meaning that working on a prototype solution could be the focus of the weekend. Although that didn’t quite go according to plan (does it ever?), the team grew organically and in the end there was an idea that played to all of our strengths that is still being worked on today. Since then I’ve gone on to do other hacks including Random Hacks of Kindness in Sydney, which has a similar model, and I really appreciate this approach (full disclosure: my brother is the assistant organizer).

 

What was your project about?

My project was glucohero. The concept of Glucohero is a website that draws on crowdsourced community reviews to drive relevant recommendations of mobile apps for patients suffering from Diabetes (primarily focussed on Type I right now). There is currently more than 300 different diabetes apps on the market, because diabetes is a condition with a very wide range of presenting features and each patient may be treated slightly differently depending both on the severity of their condition and the types of treatment that may be available or suitable for them. For example, some people have implanted insulin pumps which for some patients and their families are either too expensive or they have security concerns, but others might be looking for management that might involve finding appropriate recipes. Deciding which app is right for you is really hard to do.

 

What was the biggest challenge you faced?

Personally, it was giving the pitch at the end on very little sleep - but I think my team members (David and Vyoma) would agree it was changing concept almost halfway through the hack.

The project didn’t originally start as a “help me decide” service, it was a brief to make an app to take care of all of the needs for a Type I diabetes patient. Although it was understood from the outset that many apps had failed to meet the needs of the Product Owner’s nephew, it was clear that the main goals of a proposed app were the same of many apps already available. However, as there were no potential customers available for consultation at the time of the Hack, we trawled through online forums to find what patients were saying about these apps. It became very clear after a few threads on the sub Reddit for diabetes that many individuals had tried to develop apps to cover all of the needs of patients in a single design and appealed to forum members to tell them what patients needed. But this kind of one-size-fits-all approach seemed to be restrictive as many companies’ apps could do certain things better than others depending on patient needs, symptoms and equipment. Also, it seemed that patients were using multiple apps to circumvent other apps’ failings, including using those apps that aren’t specifically intended for diabetic patients.

We decided then that there was insufficient data on how this interaction occurs, and that designing a tool to collect data for this kind of situation is potentially more helpful and allows potential pivoting later. But this is one of the great things about participating in a hack -  there is great scope to come up with unexpected innovative interim solutions due to time pressure.

 

What was the best part of Health Hack?

The best part of HealthHack is easily it’s the people that come to a HealthHack. HealthHack attracts compassionate, honest, empathetic and genuinely lovely people who want to make real solutions to real problems where getting it wrong could also have real consequences. But getting a potential product right could potentially lead to a real difference in people’s lives and the participants are all happy to give up their weekends to do so. I only wish that I had more time to work on Glucohero with my Health Hack team :)

interview with maggie hardy

How did you get involved in Health Hack?

I connected with Mitch Stanton-Cook on Twitter, as they were looking for judges for the Brisbane node. I was impressed that Mitch mentioned they wanted to get a diverse range of mentors and judges to reflect the diversity of the participants, and he specifically mentioned gender equity as a goal for the Health Hack.

 

What was your role in Health Hack?

I was one of the three judges for the Brisbane node, along with Ginny Barbour (Executive Officer, Australiasian Open Access Support Group) and Colin McCririck (now CEO/CIO of eHealth Queensland).

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

image courtesy of Dr Nick Hamilton

What was the most interesting part of Health Hack for you?

Absolutely the ideas! The innovative ways participants worked collaboratively to solve some of medicine’s most difficult problems was striking. I was particularly impressed at the combination of low-tech and high-tech ideas that went into each project, and the supportive atmosphere for such a large group of people with a diverse set of skills and expertise.

 

What did you get out of Health Hack?

The Hack helped me to see my own research in a different light, and to consider new approaches and technologies to take my work to the next step. In addition to increasing my own professional network, I met some incredibly motivated and passionate people that I’m lucky to be working with now on the next year’s Health Hack.