One of the best things we have the opportunity to do as an organization, is to encourage others to think about technology differently. At hackathons, like UNC’s sponsored HackNC, students gather together to create amazing projects, all within 24 hours. The possibilities in this space with like-minded, talented and curious individuals, is limitless. As a team, CS+SG decided to host a prize for the most Innovative Social Hack at HackNC, and encouraged people to keep social good in mind when they developed their technologies.
Izzi, Project Coordinator and Outreach Chair, and I demoed 22 projects within an hour and fifteen minutes. We saw everything from a RaspberryPi used as a motion sensor to detect car crashes before they occur, to lamps that saved energy by utilizing voice recognition to turn on and off. The project that stood out to us the most was one created by 3 UVA students, whom had traveled during their fall break to attend HackNC. They created a Google Chrome extension that utilized the front facing camera in order to recognize head motions as a way to scroll through a page. They called it “IntelliScroll”. This project was created for those with limited mobility or trouble accessing a keyboard or mouse. It allows scrolling and selection through a trainable motion detector. The possibilities with this software were plentiful, allowing opportunities for recognition of hand motions, as well as, potentially, the interpretation of sign language as a way to give the computer commands.
The reason Izzi and I chose this project, was because this project mirrors some of the essential goals and values of CS + Social Good. We aim to empower people by giving them technology to help them achieve goals of social good. As an organization, we focus on helping groups of people that are underrepresented, misunderstood, or struggling. This group at HackNC fixed a problem that, many of us, don’t recognize in our daily lives, and opened up a world of possibilities for that community. This is one of the reasons that we chose to give a prize of a certificate and a Google Chromecast to each group member. We hope that more people start working on technologies to improve our world, but for now we will continue to do just that.