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SickKids hacking health

Technical Explorer

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Last weekend the SickKids health center hosted a Hacking Health event that was an excellent opportunity to take a look at new and exciting innovations in the health space. I went as a mentor and I got to see a ton of fantastic ideas brought from the conceptual stage to actual working prototypes.


My favourite project of the weekend, KidList, was one which won a lot of praise and accolades from the judges. It’s a deceptively simple idea: if a particular patient requires care, but their doctor isn’t near by, the caregiver can securely push that patient’s file to the doctor’s phone, who can add instructions, notes and todo items in real time.

While designed and marketed as a SickKids tool, following their naming for other internal tools, I can see that this would have potential in any medical setting, or even in other industries.

Rainbow Bracelets

Not every project was software based. In particular, one project falls squarely in the wearables category, though in a way that is wholly unique. It’s called Rainbow Bracelets, and the idea is that a child or elderly person is wearing the braclet when they are playing or moving. The bracelet has an accelerometer in it and can detect if it falls sharply, and in particular, if it doesn’t start moving again. If this happens, it then transmits a distress signal to a caregiver.

Probably the most novel part is that the prototype that was demoed included an RF transmitter instead of linking to a cell phone, which means that the bracelet would work in places that cell phones don’t, such as in developing countries.

I find this idea really compelling, and could see this as a real quality of life improvement to elderly living on their own.


The idea behind DiDi was that kids and teens need a place where they can discretely ask for advice on sensitive subjects, like drugs, sex, and so forth. The app was going to be a sort of Q & A site, where anyone could submit questions anonymously, and they would be answered by an expert. Other people could search and upvote questions.

I was a Mentor at the event, and spent most of my time working with this group. We decided to build a two-tier application, with a front-end built in HTML5 and AngularJS, and a back-end web service built on PHP and MongoDB. This gave us the flexibility to host the application as a web-app, or to use a tool like PhoneGap to create a native application. For our demo, we ended up doing the latter.

This shows the best aspect of hacking events; participants generally walk out of the event with a working prototype which they can then show to others and, hopefully, get their idea off the ground.

There were many other projects to be found, more than I can reasonably write about here. Check out the full list [http://hh-kids.sparkboard.com/] for more details. I hope to see all of them as fully-formed products in the coming months.

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