By Marc Siry, Comcast Vice President of Strategic Development
Despite Philly’s wintry and windy weather, a group of students, engineers, and innovators assembled at Jefferson University Alumni Hall over the weekend of November 14 to participate in a health hackathon to create medical technology innovations using everything from wearables to drones.
Comcast was one of the main sponsors of the Independence/Jefferson Health Hack to help develop important relationships between students, innovators, and engineers in our city’s burgeoning tech scene.
Hackathons like these have been gaining in popularity in recent years because they bring experts together from different fields that might not have otherwise worked together to collaborate and solve complex issues. This is especially useful in the healthcare field where the technology and processes are notoriously complex.
One of the aims of the hackathon was to explore innovations that can allow patients to create their own solutions to healthcare. “They know the disease process better than doctors,” said Bon Ku, an assistant professor at Jefferson Medical School, and who helped make the idea of a Health Hack a reality.
Knowing how grueling these hackathons can be on the mind and body, Comcast provided two XFINITY recharge stations and free growlers of cold brew coffee from Saxbys. While there, we were able to introduce them remotely to our amazing VIPER (Video, IP & Engineering) team in Denver, who were fielding questions through their new Twitter account, @ComcastViper.
The Vipers were assisting attendees throughout the weekend with technical questions ranging from how to animate emojis to breaking down smart watch APIs and extracting features from audio files. Even with a hall filled with tech wizards, the Viper’s help was greatly appreciated. And we were able to show off the incredible talent of our high-tech Denver team.
Three engineering teams walked away with $5,000 for their inventions in wearable tech, re-admissions and drone-based healthcare delivery. One winner also gets the dubious honor of having lunch with me!
Not only do hackathons like these benefit patients and healthcare providers, they help to put Philadelphia on a list of high tech, innovative cities that are creating important breakthroughs across the country. Hopefully we’ll see more like these happening in more Philadelphia universities soon!