DENTON (UNT), Texas — Five University of North Texas students studying computer science, sociology and business reaped awards at the first-ever LeadingAge HackFest Oct. 25 – 27 in Dallas for designing technological tools that can be used to improve the lives of older adults.
First place — Global EngAge
David Adamo Jr., a doctoral student in computer science, and his four teammates from other universities clinched first place with a videoconferencing app that allows seniors to connect with others even if they can’t leave their homes. Seniors can virtually attend community events through the app. The first-place team received $5,000.
“All of this technology already exists. We just created something to make it incredibly easy to use,” Adamo said. “Simplicity was the most important concern.”
Runner-up — Aperture Solutions
Ann Wilder, a UNT doctoral student studying sociology and a teaching fellow in applied gerontology who lives in Arlington, and Bret Sebastian, an undergraduate student from San Antonio studying decision sciences in the UNT College of Business, were on a four-person team named Aperture Solutions that created Aperture CONNECT — a multimodal device to help connect seniors with caregivers. The device earned a runner-up prize and received $2,000.
Aperture CONNECT consists of a tablet with a control panel that links to a waterproof smartwatch that has a fall sensor, medication reminder and check-in device.
“This integrates several functions into one device and makes it a little more attractive to wear,” Wilder said. “The big complaint about existing fall protection devices is people get them and don’t wear them. This device is about preserving the dignity of an older adult, allowing them to stay at home and increasing their safety.”
The device also has the capacity to link to a smartphone.
“There was a lot of team building that had to be done in a short amount of time, which is important, especially as you go into the business field,” Sebastian said.
People’s Choice Award — AMAZE
Quentin Mayo, a UNT student working on a doctoral degree in computer science, and Mahsa Kia, an undergraduate studying computer engineering at UNT, served on the four-person AMAZE team that earned the People’s Choice Award for creating a tool that sends a text message when a senior takes his or her medication.
“We are trying to enrich lives,” Mayo said. “We want to give them positive encouragement to take their medication on time. They get a reminder to take medication through a text, and then they are connected through a call with another person.”
The People’s Choice team earned $1,000.
“Winning this award meant that we got heard and that our product will hopefully one day help the elderly in order to extend their lives even more,” Kia said.
Judges evaluated entries on originality, usability, feasibility, design relevance and on being most developed by the end of the session. All cash prizes were donated by The Asbury Group.
HackFest was sponsored by LeadingAge and Ziegler and organized by LeadingAge, The Asbury Group, It’s Never 2 Late and UNT. LeadingAge is an association of more than 6,000 not-for-profit aging service providers nationwide.