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at Johns Hopkins University | Sep. 7-9, 2018

What if the most creative minds channeled their focus into solving the most impactful problems of today? Imagine if we could apply the ingenuity that powers the most profound technology into the most fundamental of all human concerns: health. MedHacks is the start. Join us for our medical hackathon and design competition at the world’s pinnacle of medical care - Johns Hopkins University.

Experts and students in the field of medicine will meet to identify healthcare problems across the globe.

Hackers from all disciplines, skill levels, and locations will unite to develop solutions to these problems.

For 36 hours, these hackers and doctors will bring their ideas to fruition. At the end of the event, they will have the opportunity to present their solutions to the judges and the world.

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Plumbing the Public Health Lessons of the AIDS Crisis
Kilachand class uses that tragedy’s lessons to address other problems worldwide

Class by class, lecture by lecture, question asked by question answered, an education is built. This is one of a series of visits to one class, on one day, in search of those building blocks at BU.
Standing before a screen displaying the ominous word “tularemia,” a team briefs the audience about a potential bioterrorism attack at Beijing’s 2022 Winter Olympics.
“Our goal is to create a prevention strategy,” declares the lead speaker, who explains that tularemia, a bacteria-borne disease with pneumonia-like symptoms, is “fatal without proper treatment.” From monitoring air systems at the Olympic Games to stockpiling antibiotics, she and her team map out plans for thwarting the terrorists.
The briefers, students from Kilachand Honors College, are presenting their project for a hackathon-style final in Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Global Challenges: Global Health, Kilachand’s mandatory sophomore course this spring.
For three-plus hours on the last Sunday in April, 75 students, broken into groups of four or five, offer solutions to real or potentially real health conundrums, including bioterrorism, the refugee flood from Syria’s civil war, soaring suicide rates among Canada’s Inuit people, and improving Boston’s program for training a more diverse workforce in health care.
For most of the semester, the class prepared for this final test by studying the world’s response to the HIV-AIDS crisis, leveraging lessons from that tragedy to address other public health problems at the hackathon, says Christopher Gill, a School of Public Health associate professor of global health.
Like many victims in the hackathon’s scenarios, from migrants to medically underserved populations, the gay community was stigmatized when AIDS first struck in the 1980s. The then-mysterious killer seemed as insoluble at the time as contemporary refugee crises or terrorism do now.
And all of these problems provoked responses from scientists, public health experts, even artists. The other course instructors are Carrie Preston, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of English and gender studies and Kilachand Honors College director, and Muhammad Zaman, a College of Engineering professor of biomedical engineering.
“I’m a premed student, so it’s kind of interesting to see health from different perspectives rather than just the science field,” says Francesca Kishkill (Sargent’20),whose hackathon assignment is the Syrian refugee crisis. “We get more of the public health perspective. We also read a play about HIV and AIDS.” (That would be Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer- and Tony-winning Angels in America.)
Political science major Macella Molenari (CAS’20), another member of the Syrian refugee crisis team, says she is “very familiar with the political workings and social activism” around the crisis, but that before taking the course she “knew very little about the engineering and the public health issues that came along with it.”
“We’re sort of like the Rashomon class,” says Gill, referring to the 1950 Japanese film with multiple characters’ perspectives on a murder. With three instructors offering differing takes on HIV-AIDS, he says, he became a student himself, learning from his colleagues.

Frances Gould (CAS’20) (left) and Kera Regan-Byrne (CAS’20) discuss a theoretical bioterrorism attack as their final project for the Kilachand Honors College class.
Gill says that while he ponders the illness through social science interventions that distinguish between groups—“you have AIDS or you don’t”—Preston, the course’s resident humanist, “sees it through the perspective of patients who don’t have any specialized training and are just trying to understand this thing that has happened to them using their own vocabulary…in literature and the arts and philosophy, poetry, and music. It’s a powerful reminder that at the end of the day, what we’re really talking about is them, not us.”
Bioengineers like Zaman, meanwhile, address public health problems “through actually building things,” Gill says. One of those things—discussed in the class—is Zaman’s PharmaChk, a high-tech device that can verify whether a pill placed inside is high-quality or not. It’s being field-tested now, says Zaman, whose lab developed it. He found the class “a remarkable experience.”
Between his two colleagues and the students themselves, he says, “we have had the pleasure of looking at issues of equity, of social justice, of rights, of fairness that we often don’t pay attention to.”
Preston says that as the three profs brainstormed topics before the semester, “we all had an interest in HIV-AIDS.”
“This disease looks totally different if we, say, take the African context and compare it to the US context,” she says. “It’s two different things: its impact on certain populations, the way it gets spread, the way it’s understood in discourse.” In the United States, the disease largely has been controlled by antiretroviral drugs developed to combat the disease, while in African nations, it remains a major killer because of lack of access to those treatments.
“We view HIV-AIDS as a treatable condition, something you live with. In most places in Africa, it is something you die from,” Preston says. “As many as 30 percent of South Africans are infected with HIV and are not being treated.” And there’s another difference: “It’s not a largely gay disease in Africa. Inordinately, it affects younger women right in the childbearing ages, who are, of course, then infecting children.”
As a humanist, Preston, whose scholarship focuses on literature and the performing arts, in particular queer theory, leads discussions on readings such as Angels in America, which was part of an activist backlash against the US government’s halting response to the disease when it first struck in the 1980s.
As part of her lessons on that activism, Preston screens a news clip that she says is a Wayback Machine revelation to the class. In it, a reporter asks President Reagan’s press secretary about the new, mysterious killer of gay men amid laughter and questioning of his sexual orientation. “It’s really moving for the students to see that this is not very long ago when this was treated as a joke because it was attached to homosexuality,” she says.

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Your Ideas Are Terrible has partnered with Blockstack to host #DappHack
Sharpen your skill set or learn blockchain stack development without having to start from scratch. Join fellow developers to build a dapp — a distributed app — in a twenty-four-hour deep dive into the blockchain industry’s most cutting-edge developer tools.
At #dapphack, June 1-2, you’ll work alongside fellow distributed app enthusiasts to turn an existing application into a distributed trustless app, or build a new application from the ground up.

The hackathon includes:
No rules (in terms of what you can build — other than it needs to be a dapp)
Education from experienced speakers, mentors and judges
Delicious food and drinks to keep the hacking juices flowing
No prior blockchain experience necessary
At the end of the event your team will present your work to a panel of judges. Prize bundles will be given out in three categories: blockstack, ethereum and hyperledger.

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Quick Insurance wins the Disrupt Berlin 2017 Hackathon Grand Prize

It’s been a long night at Arena Berlin. The building hosted a very special competition — the Disrupt Berlin Hackathon.

Hundreds of engineers and designers got together to come up with something cool, something neat, something awesome. The only condition was that they only had 24 hours to work on their projects. Some of them were participating in our event for the first time, while others were regulars. Some of them slept on the floor in a corner, while others drank too much Red Bull.
We could all feel the excitement in the air when the 45 teams took the stage to present a one-minute demo to impress fellow coders and our judges. But only one team could take home the grand prize and €4,200. So, without further ado, meet the Disrupt Berlin 2017 Hackathon winner.
Winner: Quick Insurance

Quick Insurance is the easiest way to purchase an insurance product for all your valuable stuff. Let’s say you go skiing for a week with a very expensive camera. In just a few taps, you can insure your camera for a week from your phone.
Runner-Up #1: BillboardAR

BillboardAR lets you turn any billboard advertisement into an instant purchase opportunity. You just point your phone at any ad to get more details, find the closest store or buy online.
Runner-Up #2:

When you visit a site, is going to use your computer resources to mine for cryptocurrencies. But this isn’t a nasty hack as wants to provide basic minimum income to people in need. Read more about in our separate post.

Sabela Garcia Cuesta, Program Manager, Next Media Accelerator
Sabela Garcia Cuesta works at next media accelerator (NMA) in Hamburg providing early stage media startups a place to grow fast and scale in Europe entering first the German market. As program manager she represents NMA in Germany and abroad spreading the program’s benefits for European and Israeli startups, scouting potential applicants for the program and mingling with media executives and investors. She also guides the teams once they have come to Germany to help them reach their objectives.
Tina Egolf, CPO, Clue
Tina Egolf leads pirate ships (aka product teams). As Clue’s CPO she is currently defining the global product strategy and building the product, growth and monetisation teams for Clue, the #1 mobile app for female health worldwide. Before joining Clue, she took a detour into consulting with ThoughtWorks, worked for Podio as Senior Product Manager, founded and failed with her own startup and sold contemporary art. She also blogs about “future of work” and coordinates the Hamburg Geekettes, a network for women in the tech and startup scene.
Susanne Kaiser, CTO,
As the CTO at Just Software, Susanne Kaiser is responsible for the software development of JUST SOCIAL – providing apps for collaboration and communication in organizations. She has a background in computer sciences and a technical and entrepreneurial expertise for more than 15 years. She is also a public speaker on international tech stages.
Diksha Dutta
Diksha Dutta is Lead, Communications at ElektroCotoure and an independent columnist. Starting her career as a feature writer in india, she gradually stepped into hard-core news reporting and has closely tracked the private equity/venture capital/startup space. She has worked with organisations like The Financial Express and NewsCorp India during her six-year long stint in the media industry as a full-time business journalist. Since 2015, she has been writing independently on startups for publications such as The Huffingtonpost and the At present, she is working on a book on the Indian startup ecosystem with Bloomsbury India which brings together fascinating stories of over 50 entrepreneurs across the country and will be released next year. A compilation of her few selected columns on startups has been published in an e-book titled “WunderNova” which is available on Amazon.
Ina Wagner, Head of Student Relations, CODE University
Ina Wagner is part of the team that established CODE, a newly founded and state-recognised university of applied sciences for digital product development that started with their study program in October 2017 in Berlin. She is responsible for every step of the student’s journey – from application and admission to them becoming a true digital pioneer after their bachelor’s degree. Before joining CODE, she was Head of HR and Head of Digital at deepblue networks, an agency for digital products in Hamburg, combining two roles that allowed her to support talents to reach their full potential. Ina also co-founded the Code+Design Initiative that organises coding camps and other events to support teenagers to choose a career in tech.

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Disaster relief hacks dominate the stage at the Disrupt SF 2017 Hackathon

At the Disrupt SF 2017 Hackathon, a massive swath of the 102 companies that took the stage on Sunday presented hacks with disaster relief in mind. From ResQme to ResQMi to RescueMe, if you can think of a phrase with the word “rescue” in it, it probably showed up on stage among the roughly 30 emergency and disaster related hacks.
Most of the disaster-related apps that presented today mentioned the recent events of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma in their pitches, observing that tech should be able to pair victims, resources and rescue workers far better than existing services. Many of the rescue-oriented apps that took the stage acknowledged that mobile data services usually go down during these events and the vast majority of them offered an SMS-based version of their hack.
While some hacks addressed specific disaster scenarios like emergency ridesharing and drone rescue operations, nearly all of the disaster-related apps mentioned failings of modern emergency management, like a “lack of communication” between victims and rescuers and the absence of a “cohesive program” tracking realtime rescue and relief efforts.
Here’s a selection of the notable disaster relief hacks from 2017’s Disrupt Hackathon:
RescueCom: “An accessible and frictionless way to communicate in emergency situations.” The service offers geofenced chatrooms with alerts from emergency services highlighted in red with all messages geotagged. “Once a disaster starts you don’t always always have time to download an app” so readouts of the messages are also available via a phone number.

** see embedded hacks

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TheBlindGuide acquires UPenn startup ThirdEye, bringing computer vision to the visually impaired

There’s nothing quite like the atmosphere of a college hackathon. Amidst the free t-shirts and apps to help you find parties on campus always lie a few hidden gems for those with the patience to hunt. ThirdEye, one of those gems forged out of PennApps, UPenn’s hackathon, is being acquired today by TheBlindGuide for an undisclosed sum. Started by three current Penn students, ThirdEye brings object recognition to mobile to help the visually impaired.
Originally created as an add-on for the now obsolete Google Glass, the ThirdEye of today exists as a mobile app. It uses Google’s Cloud Vision API to identify objects and read their descriptions aurally. Users can also snap photos of text and have it converted to speech.

Team members Rajat Bhageria, Ben Sandler, Daniel Hanover and Nandeet Mehta, spent a lot of their time leveraging their student status to build out relationships with organizations supporting the visually impaired. A lot of these partners ended up becoming distribution channels for getting their service to market.
They spent a lot of time hashing out a business plan, ultimately settling on a fremium model in the U.S. of $8 per month after a period and a free model internationally. At the time of the sale, ThirdEye only had about 500 monthly active users. But Bhageria says that, though the acquisition is small, he is proud that development will continue on the project.
After the fall of glass, the group mulled over the idea of building its own hardware. In contrast to the stereotypical hot-shot college dropouts, everyone on the ThirdEye team wanted to graduate. This meant that there was only so much time to go around when it came to learning the medical device regulatory and insurance landscape.

TheBlindGuide is an e-commerce retailer serving the blind and visually impaired communities. The ThirdEye team will not be joining the company. Instead, TheBlindGuide will hire visually impaired and disabled programmers — building tools for the impaired by the impaired.
Like any self-respecting founder fresh off an exit still contemplating next steps, Bhageria is piecing together his own venture fund to keep active. In the spirit of the decentralized Contrary Capital, his new project, Prototype Capital, supported by high-net-worth individuals. Bhageria wants to give mainstays like Dorm Room Fund and Rough Draft Ventures a run for their money on the college startup seed-financing circuit. The idea is that investors across a large number of campuses would get access to more deal flow and be able to offer perks like legal help and office space to entice entrepreneurs.

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Zurich InsurHack 2017- 48 Hours, 3 Challenges, Non-Stop Coding, Prizes totaling EUR 75,000

Get ready for round two: Zurich InsurHack - the hackathon for the insurance industry - is right around the corner! Team up and use your creativity, skills and expertise to create innovative software solutions and customer-oriented business ideas defining the future of insurances. Developers, designers and ideators, sign up now and get exclusive access to Zurich API's and IT platform as well as the chance to win prizes of 75.000€ in total.

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Atlanta Will Host the Largest-Ever HBCU Hackathon

To welcome its incoming freshman class and inspire them throughout their education, Clark Atlanta University (CAU) will host the largest hackathon ever held in Atlanta. The hackathon will also be the largest-ever held at an HBCU school (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).
CAU’s “Hack the Panther Express” will be a 6-hour technical marathon for 800-1000 students to form teams and collaboratively code a unique solution. It is part of CAU’s Freshman Program experience, and is intended to demonstrate the focus CAU places on entrepreneurship and innovation. Students will have a choice to “hack” challenges such as creating a business, finding ways to increase retention and registration rate of African American males, and career placement tools and programs for outgoing college seniors.
CAU students also have the option to create their own challenge to hack, with topics ranging anywhere from higher education to social justice. And the prizes are tempting — the first place team members will all take home drones and robots, along with $250.
To accomplish this large of an event, CAU has partnered with HackOut.Ninja, an Atlanta-based startup that assists its partners with all the logistics, technical details, and partnerships required for the complicated process of putting on a hackathon.
“We wanted to work with CAU because they were ready. They were ready to take the necessary steps to bring something new to the students and get them involved in a big and impactful way. They wanted to send a powerful message about their community’s focus on innovation, and what better way to show it than to put on an event where everyone in the community can be a part of it,” says Jerica Richardson, co-founder of HackOut.Ninja.

Richardson says that a hackathon can be the first step to a lifetime of entrepreneurship.
“From our experiences with first-timers, our presence achieves plenty. Some students have remarked how they never thought they could create a real company, or had never seen tools to help them develop something,” says Richardson.
“We know that by creating a collaborative and supportive environment, given the presence of the city’s most promising startups, members of the educational community, and volunteers who are inspirational themselves, the students will walk away feeling empowered, knowledgeable, and confident of their chance to succeed in the world,” says Richardson.
CAU and Hackout.Ninja also have pulled in a host of organizations from across the community, partnering with business leaders, city officials, and educational institutions including the City of Atlanta, the Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, General Assembly, Women in Technology, and more. CAU is still seeking partners to make the hackathon a regular, recurring event.
“This event will be a true testament to Atlanta’s diversity and the city’s position as a leader in innovation,” says Richardson.
Hack the Panther Express will take place on Thursday, August 10th from 4-10pm at CAU’s Student Center. To volunteer as a judge, mentor, or subject-matter expert, click here. To apply to be a startup exhibitor, click here.

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The New Riot Games Program is a First for the Company

The video games developer and publisher Riot Games has launched a unique new initiative titled the Riot Games Student Ambassador Program.

This is the first time that the company has launched such a program, and it will take place in Malaysia. The initiative spans across one year for participants, and was designed to help them "develop career critical skills and jump-start their future careers" – despite what discipline they are seeking to pursue. Riot Games has selected 28 students from 28 different post-secondary schools in Malaysia, and they were chosen based on their grades, charisma and passion for gaming.

The student ambassadors' purpose is to "grow and nurture the thriving gaming community at their respective campuses," and they will be responsible for organizing "intra-campus tournaments and community events" as well as various workshops and hackathons.

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Future of Sex podcast creator Bryony Cole talks the future of funbots and New York’s first sextech hackathon

In what turned out to be a surprising SFW podcast Future of Sex podcast creator Bryony Cole joined us to talk about the future of sex, teledilonics and sex robots. Not content to let the media and the world stay squeamish about the topic of sex robots Cole expects many of us to have had sex with a robot by 2047 and believes many of our children will first experience sex with a robot before they attempt it with a human.
Cole is also running New York’s first Sextech Hackathon on June 10, 2017, From 9:30am to 8pm, at the ThoughtWorks office, 99 Madison Ave, 15th floor. You can RSVP here.
Talking candidly about sex and tech is hard and Bryony made it all kinds of fun. Please do listen in.

Technotopia is a podcast about a better future by John Biggs. You can subscribe in Stitcher or iTunes and download the MP3 here.

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