ALS Hackathon Results in New and Exciting Technology Ideas


ALS is a severely debilitating disease that takes away a person’s ability to move, speak, swallow, and eventually breath. There is much to be accomplished to immediately enhance their quality of life. With this in mind, we sponsored an ALS Hackathon in partnership with Prize4Life to bring together bright, young students to brainstorm and quickly develop an assistive technology prototype. This past October, over 70 students attended the Hackathon, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard, and Northeastern University. They worked closely with people living with ALS, technology experts, and clinicians to come up with unique ideas. They moved fast, over only a 24-hour time period, and at the end came up with some exciting ideas to help people with ALS in a variety of ways.

Here is a list of teams and the ideas they developed:

  • SmartAir – a pump to better control the pressure of a cushion that is designed to enhance the comfort of sitting for long periods of time
  • One Button, Whole World! – an accelerometer using electric skin patches to detect slight muscle movements
  • QuipCare – an equipment loan closet database, like a Lyft for equipment distribution to help better fill patients’ needs
  • Easy Clothing Assist – straps enabling patients to dress themselves
  • ALS Tap – a ALS adaptive and assistive technology availability app used as a streamlined exchange of ALS equipment
  • Breath Detector – a mobile breath detector that sounds an alarm if a person stops or has difficulty breathing
  • Itch2Scratch – a back scratching back rest to alleviate spots patients cannot itch
  • Broader Horizons – a wheelchair attached camera enabling a 360-degree view of a person’s surroundings without moving the head
  • Notify – an alarm button activated by tiny muscle movement or blinking

Check out our photo gallery that captures the hard work of the teams!

In the end, a team of judges came together to review all the prototypes and decided that all nine teams deserved a $1,000 prize and a chance to continue their work. The next stage of the Hackathon is being held tomorrow, December 7, in Boston, where all nine teams will compete for additional funding to continue development, production, and marketing of their assistive technology solution.

We are so proud of all the bright students who took the time to work on important problems people living with ALS face every day and look forward to seeing their prototypes develop even further.

Donate today to continue to support bright, young scientists dedicated to making a difference for people living with ALS. Their potential is immense.

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