June 16, 2024
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Jerusalem College of Technology Holds Women’s Hackathon

(Courtesy of JCT) Nearly 25% of senior citizens in Israel live alone, causing a potentially fatal situation when one of them falls and needs immediate assistance.

To solve this problem, a group of religious women taking part in the Jerusalem College of Technology LevTech Entrepreneurship Center’s fourth annual women’s hackathon developed an innovative solution which was crowned the winner of the competition.

The winning group designed computer-vision technology to detect when an elderly person falls, then immediately notifying their emergency contact. This challenge was presented by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems for the women to find ways to help the greater good using image processing.

While wearable technology does exist for seniors to call for emergency help, sometimes emergencies arise where they are unable to press the button needed to make the call. This technology detects a fall from the onset and alerts the appropriate individual.

“These women who participate in the hackathon are truly amazing,” said Orlee Guttman, co-founder of the LevTech Entrepreneurship Center. “Every year we become more impressed with the innovation and execution. We are excited to invite them to continue these wonderful ideas and turn them into products through our accelerator program.”

Over 130 students from the Jerusalem College of Technology’s (JCT) Tal, Tvuna and Lustig campuses for women, composed of religious and ultra-Orthodox students, participated in the 44-hour hackathon.

Coming in second place at the hackathon was a group who responded to a challenge by Intel to try and solve parking-lot issues by focusing on three main problems: the expensive and complicated hardware that parking lots use, such as sensors; the negative experience that can be had when looking for a space; and the monetary loss that parking lots have when spaces are vacant.

Instead of using expensive sensors, the group developed software that can easily notify parking lot owners about the availability of parking spots in their lots. They can then use this information to notify drivers of the best place to park, greatly enhancing their parking experience. The group also came up with the idea to use the unused parking spots for projecting advertisements and personal messages to customers.

Finishing in third place was a project that also uses image processing to detect a universal hand symbol specifically designed for those experiencing domestic abuse. In response to an increase in domestic violence over the pandemic, in April 2020, the Canadian Women’s Foundation created an international hand symbol for someone who feels threatened but may not have regular contact with the outside world to report it. The goal for the technology would be for it to be placed on cameras in public places, and when someone gestures the symbol, it is picked up on camera footage and alerts the authorities.

“We were trying to create something that would help people and thought that domestic violence is such a devastating issue worldwide, and we all know someone who has gone through something like that,” said team member Mimi Meyer. “We thought instead of detecting the violence, we can detect someone in distress. We think this can make a real difference.”

Also part of the hackathon was a product in response to a challenge presented by the multinational company Amdocs (founded in Israel). Participants developed software to prevent bullying in school before it starts. The program asks the students one simple question each month: “Who are your friends?”

“A lot of situations caused by bullying at school (i.e., suicide etc.) are discovered only after it’s too late. By analyzing this data regularly, you can track the students’ social situation and understand what is going on before it gets out of hand,” said team member Chana Leah Silverberg.

Responding to the most recent war between Israel and Hamas, where Israelis were regularly running to find bomb shelters, an electronic bracelet was also developed for the hearing impaired which vibrates when it detects a rocket siren. The technology is smart enough to differentiate from other alarms or similar sounds.

The expert judges who evaluated the proposed technological solutions were Dr. Shay Fleishon, CEO of the Jerusalem Development Authority’s BioJerusalem Company; Galia Kut, entrepreneur and investor; Klony Lieberman, vice president of research and development at Sixdof Space; Danna Hochstein Mann, venture capital and innovation executive and founding director of ALYNovation; and Raissa Hacohen, partner at HUR.

This year’s hackathon operated as a unique hybrid model, with most students in person on two different campuses, one in Jerusalem one in Ramat Gan, and others taking part remotely from around Israel. It is the most recent example of empowering religious women and breaking the glass ceiling in engineering with indispensable, hands-on experiences. JCT trains close to 20% of all women studying computer science in Israel. After the hackathon, students can enter the LevTech Lab Pre-Accelerator to further develop their products or create their own startups.

“An incredible amount of creativity and mental fortitude was displayed at this hackathon,” said Fleishon. “The women approached the various challenges that arose with a high level of innovation and professionalism.”

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