By Tarish Kadam
The Newage Hackathon 2.0, ironic in its name, was more of a youth app development competition to which there was more focus on the ideal aspect of the finished product. Although I wasn’t too amused as an IT fanatic, mostly because I wanted to expand my knowledge in the field of actual “hacking”. I still felt an ambience of technological genius surrounding me.
Prior to the event, a weekend before, all applicants were provided with a detailed information booklet regarding the social issue we were addressing when creating our applications to research further and prepare to combat the issue with the powers of technology. The primary issue that we were tackling were ‘Elderly Mental Health or ‘Personal Mental Health’ with information expressing concerns of increase in suicide rates, depression, panic attacks, social anxiety and overall mental health issues. From this viewpoint, us as programmers were put to the test with our skills of programming in innovative ways and bring out our inner creative skills to come together and build and produce a successful application that can create a vast impact in the majority of the people who suffer from mental health issues.
Well, weren’t completely on our own. At the event we were assisted by experts on assisting seniors with mental health issues and expert developers working with Dell and Alienware Laptops. Inclusive of the use of these mentors, we developed more intrinsic knowledge based on these mental health issues and how we can use this kind of information to create innovative solutions for the community and our peers. The event was a ‘sleepover’ where we were tasked with brainstorming, idealising developing, bug fixing AND presenting our finished applications created through the school famous “MIT app inventor” software for a beginner even or using actual coding using Swift or Java to a set of judges that critically analyse each product based on criteria regarding how effective the product is and what programming went into the product.
The winners (sadly not from ISS) in the advanced category, created an application that would simulate a personal diary, and analyse entered text and based on keywords picked up, place the user based on a computerised diagnostic of their mental health issue into a chat anonymously with another person of a similar range of the issue and exchange experiences to help them receive a feeling of comfort and relief that they are not the only one going through this struggle communicate their feelings.
Overall, a painstaking experience as it may be, it is a must try even if you don’t code and I look forward to ISS participating in such events in the future.