A hackathon is a weekend where programmers, domain experts, designers and problem owners collaborate extensively to innovate, create a prototype and pitch an idea. Over the past weekend, WorkingMouse and Lachlan Palmisano entered a team into the Random Hacks of Kindness
hackathon. The event, which was held at Fire Station 101
and facilitated by Chad Renando
is conducted for the purpose of creating a social enterprise to give back to the community. Over the course of 48 hours, teams (including team WorkingMouse
) assemble to inspire innovation, work fast and furious, have fun, and create prototype open source solutions with real social impact.
RHoK works with grassroots non-profits, community groups and social enterprises that are working to deliver social impact projects for the greater good. Problem owners are encouraged to submit a project to RHoK, who then present the projects to the hackers (us). We teamed up with Lachlan to work on his project - Cane Enabled. The goal of the project was to create a cane which would enable disabled/elderly people's mobility with a function to track the cane and vice versa in an emergency. This would allow us to determine how active and mobile users are. Cane Enabled was inspired by one of Lachlan's close family members, after watching them suffer with mobility issues for a considerable amount of time. Given the time restriction of the hackathon, we set ourselves the target of creating Cane Enabled's minimum viable product (MVP). We were confident that our innovation group could persevere through the weather conditions and time restrictions to get the job done!
On Saturday the team planned our execution. Given that Cane Enabled is a physical product with a software support system we focused on our strengths and set a goal to 'Create a feasible software MVP for Cane Enabled and a go to market plan for the hardware.' For the hardware we strategized our route to market. This included funding and MVP, market testing and a sales plan. We set a Go Fund Me goal of $110 which was raised by Sunday afternoon and organised trials of the prototype in a local aged care facility. The technical MVP comprised of a PVC pipe, on this we hacked together a buzzer, button, GPS and GSM receiver to facilitate the software functionality. We created a simple App to input emergency numbers and provide the GPS off the Cane. The smarts came through the integration of the software.
To demonstrate we asked the youngest member of the audience up to the stage. Upon pressing the button the Cane flashed green and set off 30-second beep. Everything 30 seconds our lucky judges received an emergency message from the cane with the location, address and coordinates. This enabled the cane to be activated in an emergency. To stop the constant emergency messages we invited the judges to respond 'Stop' and the cane returned to normal. Just to really show off we asked the judges to reply to the cane with 'track'. The cane instantly flashed red and gave off a different tone to show it was being tracked. This was disabled by holding the emergency button on the cane to stop the tracking. Just think of the confidence and security the elderly and family would feel knowing that help is just a press away.
The judges were impressed by our demonstration but also our plan to trial and engage the market. The fact that Lachlan already raised the money for his Prototype over the weekend was fantastic and we received the honour of being placed joint first for the weekend.
Overall, the hackathon was a great experience and it was fantastic to work on such a worthwhile cause. Well done to Samuel Windall and Lachlan for your effort. Everyone worked incredibly hard, resulting in a professional performance. Thank you to Lachlan for allowing us to share in his vision and contribute towards a fantastic device.
Our product was just one of many great devices. The organisers behind RHoK should take a lot of credit for the success of the event. Without a concept and passionate people driving this event, many of these ideas would simply remain ideas.