Ulster University hackathon tackles digital solutions for older people

  • A recent hackathon at Ulster University helped develop proof-of-concept technology that could help older people retain their digital independence longer.

    As the world becomes more digitally connected, it's more important than ever to ensure that new technology is designed with everyone in mind. Older people in today's society face a wide range of IT-related and technical challenges, and several Northern Irish tech firms are already working on products designed to improve the lives of older people and help them retain their independence longer

    This was the theme for a recent hackathon at the Bamford Centre at Ulster University Coleraine, where teams tackled a key set of problems affecting older people. The hackathon was held as part of the Place-EE project, a trans-national health partnership that carried out research on the digital needs of older people through its workshops.

    Teams were challenged to produce working proofs of concept for apps to enable older people to stay engaged and connected to their society and vital services. The specific challenges aimed to address rural isolation, limited transport availability due to decreases in public transport, access to health services, and IT training and adaptations to help people keep using the internet longer and stay safe online. Some of the highlights from the 12-hour hackathon include:

    SafeShare: The first place winner was SafeShare, an app designed to give older people peace of mind while taking part in activities they enjoy. The user designates an emergency contact and then tells the app what activity they're doing and how long it will take, such as going out to walk the dog for an hour. If the user has an accident such as a fall and doesn't complete or cancel the task, the app will automatically notify their emergency contact, who can then check up on them.

    Rejuvenate Connect: The second place winner went to Rejuvenate Connect, a smartphone app designed to identify emotions in real-time and then provide personalised recommendations to help assist them with problems. The app is designed to identify chronic mental health conditions early by reporting emotion data back to the user's GP.

    Other highly commended apps include Age Engage, an app centred around event-finding for seniors to reduce loneliness. This app idea won the Digital DNA Futures competition last year and was developed further during the hackathon. Personalised medication app Seniiors was also commended for its simple approach to managing a user's medication data and tracking presciptions, and Team Philo was commended for its social sharing app for older people.

    Source: Medium

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    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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