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ASU-wide hackathon shows off student innovation skills

Remote-control car project wins ASU's first-ever hackathon.
March 22, 2017

Project Giraffe — involving a remote-control car that can change the way people tour houses — wins 36-hour competition

Update: After a frenzied weekend, the team of SungHo Hong, Kaiwen Zheng, Yilong Chen, Yaohan Ding and Jiacho Chen took home the EmergenTech: Hack ASU competition's first prize, thanks to their submission, Project Giraffe. Project Giraffe allows users to create a remote-control car that is capable of changing the way people tour houses. 

The second- and third-place finishers created a companion for elderly people and a way to find empty parking spots on campus, respectively. Click the links to read more about Wilson Monitoring and FindParking

See scenes from the weekend hackathon below, and read the full preview story below the gallery. 

It’s no secret that Arizona State University is the top school in the country for innovation

Some of that creativity and ingenuity will be on display this weekend, when ASU students of all majors will take part in EmergenTech: Hack ASU. Taking place at the College Avenue Commons, the hackathon event and pitch competition will span 36 hours from March 24 to 26.

“This will be the first year of the event, with the goal of scaling up each year until we become the largest university hackathon in the Southwest and entire country,” said Mark Naufel, the director of Strategic Projects for ASU’s Knowledge Enterprise Development office. “I am excited to see a group of talented, energetic students come together for 36 hours straight to ideate and develop innovative solutions that may have a chance of impacting society.”

Throughout those 36 hours, participants will form teams and choose an emerging technology to develop both a prototype and business concept. The event will then finish with a pitch competition in which the competitors are judged by a panel in front of a live audience.

Sethuraman Panchanathan, executive vice president of Knowledge Enterprise Development, will be providing welcoming remarks at the event. He said that the team competitions are one of the things he’s looking forward to most this weekend.

“What could be better than bringing together students from various disciplines to apply their creativity and critical thinking skills?” Panchanathan said. “They will build solutions that may revolutionize public and private industries.”

There have been other similar events held on campus through school clubs, specific departments and outside groups, but this is ASU’s first-ever, university-wide edition. 

The winning team at Hack ASU will receive $1,000 and a new mattress from Tuft & Needle for each team member. The other teams that finish in the top three will also be awarded monetary prizes.

With such a large-scale event taking place, the hackathon will rely on a number of student organizers to help make sure everything runs smoothly. One of those students is junior Chelsea Border, who will be working to expand the entrepreneurial side of the participants.

“By encouraging business, design and engineering majors to participate, we are aiming to approach the hackathon with a sense of innovation and creativity,” Border said. “One of the ways we establish this is by developing the hybrid hackathon/pitch competition framework, which requires business and design elements to be addressed in final projects. Our hope is that by the end of the event, each student will have learned something new outside of their usual disciplines.” 

Whether it's the opportunity to learn at the event, gain new knowledge from their peers or take home one of the top prizes, there are plenty of reasons for students to participate in this inaugual hackathon.

"Seeing how our participants can learn from one another is what excites me most," Border said. "Our university has such a bright, talented pool of students, and the fact some of them are willing to sacrifice their time and energy to join us for a whole weekend shows our community’s dedication to innovation."

Top photo: The hackathon team HackSunDevils works on their project in a student club room of the College Avenue Commons building on the second day of the EmergenTech Hackathon. The team, composed of Chinese international students, worked on developing a method to predict cultural popularity. 

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Personalized medicine is almost here, says national expert

Future of health care: Virtual doctors, bandages that measure vital signs, more.
March 22, 2017

Leading proponent of digital medicine Eric Topol speaks about the future of health care during ASU McKenna Lecture

One of the nation’s leading proponents of digital medicineDigital medicine refers to the clinical implementation of wireless technologies in health and health care. shared his thoughts and predictions on the future of health care Wednesday night at Arizona State University's Marston Exploration Theater.

Eric Topol, internationally renowned cardiologist, geneticist, author and researcher, delivered the W. P. Carey School of Business' seventh annual McKenna Lecture to a crowd of more than 200 faculty, students and members of the public. With an almost casual air, he spoke of virtual doctor visits, bandages that measure vital signs and smartphone apps that diagnose diseases.

“For many years, it’s been talked about that medicine is going to be personalized,” Topol said. “We’re finally starting to get there.”

Part of getting there is understanding that each patient is a unique human being. The other part is adapting technology to that purpose.

Topol is the author of two books that delve even deeper into the subject, 2012’s “The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care” and 2016’s “The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine Is in Your Hands.”

"The smartphone will be the hub of the future of medicine."
— Eric Topol, professor of genomics at the Scripps Research Institute

Duke Reiter, special adviser to the ASU president, said the former served as a guide for him in the creation of the Health Futures Council at ASU, a group of ambassadors and advisers convened to direct and support the university’s health-related research, education and clinical programs.

“I found that what he was saying in that book is an uncanny parallel to what we’ve done at ASU in terms of deployment of technology and expanding our reach and being aware of how the customizing of health care works for you as a patient,” Reiter said.

Topol spoke at length on the topics of genomicsGenomics refers to the branch of molecular biology concerned with the structure, function, evolution and mapping of genomes. and the digital health world, two areas in which ASU has made significant strides. The university’s 100th spinout company, Gemneo Bioscience, uses gene-sequencing technology to allow physicians to better understand and tailor treatments around individual patients’ disease and immune responses. The university has also served as an incubator for startups like EpiFinder, which uses a smartphone application to diagnose epilepsy.

“Genomics is probably the biggest [health-related] breakthrough in the last 50 years,” Topol said, later adding that “the smartphone will be the hub of the future of medicine.”

And it’s not just what kind of care can be delivered that’s changing — it’s how that care is delivered.

In line with Topol’s comments on the need for more personalized, affordable health care is the Mayo Clinic and Arizona State University Alliance for Health Care. FormalizedThe alliance was formalized after 12 years of working together on programs that range from nursing to medical imaging to regenerative and rehabilitative medicine to wearable biosensors. in October 2016, the partnership aims to bring the nation’s most innovative university and the world leader in patient care together to create a curriculum for the science of health care delivery that spans all aspects of the field — including clinical, legal and administrative work — with a focus on how patients receive care to improve quality, outcomes and cost.

“Our strategy is to educate people differently,” director of ASU’s School for the Science of Health Care Delivery Victor Trastek said at the time. “To train the health care workforce for the future so that they think differently and can make the best decisions for the patient. And then, hopefully, you’ll get good care for a reasonable price.”

While all of these advancements have enormous potential for positive change in health care, Topol concedes that there are some challenges ahead.

For example, he said, although artificial intelligence may be able to diagnose diseases faster and more accurately than a human doctor, it requires the collection of personal data to do so. Questions like who owns that data and concerns about its security will need to be addressed.

Earlier Wednesday, Topol attended a luncheon sponsored by the Health Futures Council at ASU where he met with some of the university’s leading innovators in health care to share ideas and make meaningful connections.

“His thought leadership in democratizing health care through technology is a key factor in improving access and lowering costs toward building healthy communities, which resonates with ASU’s mission of finding sustainable health solutions,” said Sethuraman Panchanathan, executive vice president of Knowledge Enterprise Development and chief research and innovation officer at ASU.

Topol ended his talk Wednesday night with a hopeful message. Referring to technology that records health data, he said, “We have the basis now to have a massive planetary knowledge resource for health care.” And though we have some hurdles to get past first, “we have the ability to predict better treatments, prevention, better everything. … Someday, we’ll be able to predict a heart attack before it happens.”

Top photo: Eric Topol speaks about the future of health care and medicine in the United States on Wednesday in ASU's Marston Exploration Theater on the Tempe campus. Topol is the founding director of Scripps Translational Science Institute and a professor of genomics at the Scripps Research Institute. Photo by Anya Magnuson/ASU Now

Emma Greguska

Reporter , ASU News

(480) 965-9657