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LeadingAge HackFest names winners

October 20, 2014
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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The LeadingAge HackFest wrapped up this morning as competition winners were named and team representatives subsequently welcomed visitors to the expo hall, where they discussed their projects.

The grand prize went to Team Excite for its tool, named GaitMaster, that team members designed to assess risk factors related to falls with the ultimate goal of reducing hospital readmissions and provide higher-quality care. The software works with the Xbox Kinect to measure gait and gait velocity via sensors on three different points on the hip as well as on the knees and ankles.

The team envisioned the tool being used by physicians, physical therapists and discharge planners, among others, to assess the progression of therapy. For their efforts, team members will share $5,000 and have the team name engraved on a trophy.

Team Excite had five members: Lauren Sims (pictured with trophy), an administrator-in-training in her last year of master's degree studies at George Washington University (GWU); Darshan Karnawat and Tapan Kilnani, two electrical engineering graduates at Penn State; Greg Patarini, a teacher of computer programming; and Philip Taffet, an undergraduate computer science student. The team's coach was Robert E. Burke, PhD, a professor in the Department of Health Services Management and Leadership and the Gordon A. Friesen Professor of Health Care Administration at GWU. Its Council of Elders advisers were Francis and Linda Turmo.

Sims was part of last year's competition, too, as a member of Team Life, which produced a project called Leading Life Coach.

Lauren Sims, part of the winning LeadingAge HackFest team, Team Excite"My favorite part is the elders on our teams and the experience they bring of the industry and themselves. It's a reality check. Every time I come, I always enjoy interacting with them," she told Long-Term Living. "And then I am in awe of the programmers and that they could do what they do in the 18 to 24 hours we had."

She said the idea for the team's project stemmed from a conversation with Taffet's father, a geriatrician who expressed a need for a tool to assess gait. Although happy with the team's project, Sims said she was still surprised when Team Excite was announced as the grand prize winner, because the competition produced "a lot of good ideas." (One team's project, in fact, has garnered interest at the HackFest that may lead to it reaching the market.)

The two runners up for this year's HackFest were Team Primed and Team Adage for the You Are Here and Promoting Activity Safety and Security (PASS) projects, respectively. Each team received a $2,000 prize. You Are Here is a tool designed to facilitate socializing and sharing of memories. PASS was developed to measure gait speed in an effort to identify fall risk and cognition issues.

The People's Choice Award winner, receiving $1,000, was Team CarreFours for its project, Living Well Together, consisting of assessment tools and evaluations designed to help identify candidates for co-housing and, when found, assist them in locating living spaces and companions. Meeting attendees voted on the People's Choice Award in the expo hall on Monday, and the winner was announced Monday afternoon.

International competition

The competition included a team comprised of several members from Australia as well as members from the United States and Canada. Team Feros developed Seniors Central, an integrated platform to track smart home technology, chronic disease and health, video calls, activities and other functions in an effort to help seniors remain independent for as long as possible.

"We saw the 2013 HackFest advertised and I said to my CIO, Glenn Payne, 'We have to do this!" Feros Care CEO Jennene Buckley told Long-Term Living, adding that this year's LeadingAge annual meeting is her third. "Feros Care has been implementing/embedding smart technologies into the service options we provide our senior/aged care clients for the last five years and believe that technology is a key enabler to a modern aged care system."

Also on Team Feros from Australia, in addition to Buckley and Payne, are Feros Care's Tash Edwards, L&D manager, and John Broomfield, business analyst. While in the United States, they also plan to attend a conference in Las Vegas, visit the Googleplex in San Francisco (an Australian is a product manager for Google Glass, she explained) and visit Seattle.

Aging experience

Participants in this year's HackFest began their experience by undergoing an aging simulation exercise led by Beverly Patnaik, program consultant at Lipscomb University's School of TransformAging, a Nashville graduate program that trains leaders in aging services. The exercise simulated arthritis, macular degeneration, loss of smell and hearing, breathing difficulty, decreased sensitivity in touch and diabetic neuropathy.

"The experience is impactful as it brings to life the deficits that often come with growing older but also emphasizes the fact that in spite of deficits, most older adults manage their lives in ways that allow them to be independent," Patnaik told Long-Term Living.

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Related content: LeadingAge HackFest invites participants to 'Engage With Age'