Sahayak Hackathon 1.0: Ideas to mitigate challenges faced by differently-abled

UPES ACM conducted Sahayak Virtual Hackathon with a brilliant theme for helping the differently-abled

The School of Computer Science at UPES, Dehradun, in association with UPES ACM and ACM-W Student Chapters, organised Sahayak Virtual Hackathon 1.0, India’s first-ever state-of-the-art Hackathon directed at aiding Divyangjan – the differently-abled people – especially affected by an endangered economy, health implications, and limited prospects amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.

Says Varun Tondon, B.Tech Computer Science, Open Source and Standards, “When we thought that there is nothing to look forward to in this lockdown, UPES ACM brought Sahayak Virtual Hackathon with a brilliant theme for helping differently-abled people. Taking care of the needs of the differently-abled has been the most ignored issue by all of us. With Sahayak Virtual Hackathon, more than 816 students came together and brainstormed in order to find the best possible solutions.” Kashika Chopra and Apoorav Srivastav from B.Tech E-Commerce Retail and Automation were also in Varun’s team.

Ideas that employed the latest technology in the game were showcased – AI, ML, AR, VR, IoT, Biometrics, Cybersecurity, and Robotics to devise solutions, build prototypes, and develop applications that make a positive and palpable difference in the lives of the specially-abled during this pandemic.

Says Ms. Shubhi Sharma, “In line with social distancing guidelines, the Hackathon was hosted online in its entirety, using video-conferencing and instant messaging apps, and a top-end website. Over 816 participants participated in the month-long event. Extensive digital publicizing and consequent outreach strongly influenced the course of the Hackathon. Teams from 110 distinct institutions, across 21 Indian states, in addition to teams from the US, participated.”

The event was kickstarted by convenor Dr. Virender Kadyan and coordinator Ms. Shubhi Sharma. Eminent speakers at the event were Mr. Rajive Gulati (Sr. Programme Officer & Head Evaluation, UNTIL), Karminder Singh (Philanthropist; Secretary, Patiala School for the Deaf and Blind), Mr. Sanjay Kumar (Deputy Director, ISLRTC) and Dr. Himangshu Das (Director, NIEPMD). Themes included Social Inclusion, Sanitization Resources, Educational Technology, Maintaining Social Distancing, News/Information Delivery Systems and transitioning to changed circumstances. Sahayak Hackathon 1.0 was declared open by Dr. T.P. Singh, Head Department of Informatics.

●    Winner: Team ‘Sparkflares’, Aarupadai Veedu Institute of Technology, Chennai

●    First Runner-Up: Team ‘Grumm’, University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun

●    Second Runner-Up: Team ‘Braille’, Dagriation Solutions, Karnal

These teams won cash prizes of ₹25000, ₹15000, and ₹10000 respectively, and round-trip tickets to Singapore. Sponsors, reputed collaborators, knowledge partners, and other associates, all of whom helped SVH 1.0 scale an unprecedented pinnacle of success, include, IBM, United Nations Technology Innovations Labs (UNTIL), Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC), National Institute for the Empowerment of Persons with Visual Disabilities (NIEPVD), Guaana, Creative Tim, and Learning While Travelling.

Says Varun, “From the very beginning, our aim was not to win this hackathon but to build something. It has been a wonderful experience to be a part of such a great event where we got to showcase our skills and contribute to the society at the same time and I am sure that every team would take their ideas further with the same level of enthusiasm as we participated in the hackathon. A big thank you to UPES School of Computer Science for giving us this platform to be able to do our bit for the differently abled and the gifted. It was a great learning experience!”

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