Connect Ability Challenge: a 3 months competition to hack disabilities with $100k to be won

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Hi UDOOers,
last week we told you about Hack Disabilities, a Hackathon-way-more-than-a-Hackathon that will be held on May 16-17 in Rome – and we’ll be there too! – with the purpose to gather a bunch of hackers building solutions for disabled people.
So what’s up today? What is the news?
The news is that things are moving at ligthspeed, and we have to confess we are hyper-excited. Today we present another challenging initiative around hacking disabilities.

Here it is Connect Ability Challenge:

But what is it?

It’s a 3 months global software development competition about hacking disabilities, with $100k to be won.

The spirit of this initiative is helping millions of people. To put it simple, courage meets tech, tech meets courage. And all of you are needed to overcome this battle. Mobile Developers. UX designers. DIY-addicted Makers. That’s why AT&T and the New York University are contributing so much money.

The 5 categories of the competition

  • Solutions for People with Sensory Disabilities

Blindess, Low Vision, Deafness, Hearing Loss, Tactile (touch) sensation problems, Proprioception, Kinesthesia: all of these regard Sensory Disabilities.

You may think a synthetic voice solves all problems by expressing words from a digital page, but what about the items on the shelf? Not to mention the impact of Sensory Disabilities on getting around safely. Even taking the elevator can be a big, time-wasting problem.

Do you need an idea on something to work?

  • Inside-building navigation
  • Beacon and crowd-sourcing technologies that make in-building way-finding seamless
  • WiFi Direct and other peer-to-peer communications that crowd-source smartphone connectivity to make getting around on sidewalks and in public places more safe and efficient
  • Wearable devices that replicate smartphone functionality and are integrated into clothes
  • Camera vision and language detection for reading printed text on labels, signs, etc.
  • Natural language processing for real-time captioning for people with hearing impairments
  • Haptic feedback for alerts, navigation, gaming, etc.
  • Accessible games
  • Connected devices that use accessible interfaces and controllers
  • Mobility Solutions

This doesn’t regard only locomotion problems, but include also disabilities that make using one’s body or body parts a challenge.
Take Xian as an example. Xian must use two ski poles to to stand and walk. Being hands free could be a life changer for her. When she’s on the go, she cannot use her smartphone for messaging, calls, or navigation. How would you solve her problem? How would you hack Mobility problems?

Some ideas:

-Voice control apps
-Wearable devices that provide visual, audible or haptic alerts
-Kinect-like technologies
-Eye tracking, head tracking, switch controls and other methods of navigating computers and tablets without the use of hands
-Assistive guides for wheelchair alignment
-Better-networked accessible taxis
-Aggregated information about service outages and best routes within transportation stations
-Improvements to wayfinding in public places like subways, train stations, stores, etc.

  • Social/Emotional Solutions

Authism. Anxiety. Impulsiveness. Just to name three problems that have a negative impact on the social life – especially when they come together with other disabilities.
How would you solve these problems?

Some suggestions:

  • Wearable devices that provide visual, audible or haptic biofeedback with an aim to reduce stress or anxiety
  • Applications that monitor body temperature, heart rate, and other stress indicators and then make suggestions for interventions
  • Accessible dating sites
  • Social platforms for support and community building
  • Solution for People with Communicative and Cognitive Disabilities

Humans are by nature social animals, and you can guess by yourself what it means not to be able to communicate properly. We are talking about cerebral palsy, stroke, head injury, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Ideas to address this challenge:

  • Software that helps the user to organize his or her writing through graphic means such as visual flowcharts and outlines
  • Use of American Sign Language to substitute for or augment spoken language
  • Improvements to eye tracking, head tracking, and alternate input solutions for people who cannot communicate using standard keyboards
  • Natural language processing software to learn to understand and translate speech that is not clearly understood

    Solutions Impacting Policy and Society

This last topic celebrates the 25th Anniversary of ADA: the Americans with Disabilities Act, and refers to solutions that address disabilities from a social point of view: reporting broken sidewalks, curb cuts that require repair or places with insufficient lightning for people with visual impairments.

Ideas you can build on:

  • Beacon or WiFi Direct powered applications that crowd-source smartphone connectivity to make getting around on sidewalks and in public places safer and more efficient
  • A streamlined way to alert city officials of broken sidewalks, damaged curb cuts, or other issues related to access
  • Platform

    The submitted Solution must run on at least one of the following:

    • a smartphone or tablet (Android, iOS, Blackberry, Kindle, or Windows Phone)
    • a mobile or desktop web browser
    • a Windows or Mac desktop computer
    • other third party hardware including, but not limited to, wearable technology or open source hardware

    So as you read, you can submit a UDOO-based project.


    Connect Ability Challenge Deadlines

    You have time till June 24th to register and submit your project.
    You can get further information about Connect Ability Challenge by visiting the website.
    What else to say?
    Let’s make it happen. And while you think about what to build, remember to come to Hack Disabilities on May 16-17 in Rome. It will be a wonderful opportunity to brainstorm/gather feedbacks/share insights on your ideas, and overall, to do something remarkable.

    Pardon: to make something remarkable.

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