The Jersey City Rapid Maker Response Group (JCRMRG) hosted a nationwide virtual health hackathon from July 10-13, to tackle supply chain, sustainability, and wearability challenges related to personal protective equipment (PPE). The competition featured 100 hackers from across the world, including countries such as Mexico, Nepal, and India. Hackers also ranged in experience from high-school-aged participants to professional technologists, STEM enthusiasts, executives, doctors, and scientists. Schools represented in the event included NJIT, Stevens Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon, Penn State University, NYU, Rutgers, and Fairfield University. The event was sponsored by Dassault Systèmes, PSE&G, 3D Print.com, Asimov Ventures, PrusaPrinters, Devpost, Women in 3D Printing, TechUnited, Stevens Venture Center, DesignPoint, Indiegrove, PicoSolutions, and the Jersey City Tech Meetup.
“We saw some outstanding hacks,” said Justin Handsman, founder of JCRMRG. “Our participants came up with solutions ranging from ultraviolet sanitizing stations for PPE, to eco-friendly PPE and devices to protect the user from coming into contact with surfaces. Other hacks included software solutions to create better PPE and a modularized manufacturing lab. We were completely blown away by the caliber of the projects, and diversity of the participants.”
Throughout the hackathon, hackers tackled issues with support of a 21-person, multidisciplinary mentor team to helping them develop value propositions for their hacks, helping to vet design and functionality capabilities, and provide coaching and support around the presentation of their ideas. The judges deliberated over a three-day period, and the winners are:
BY THE SLICE GIRLS | NATASHA DZURNY, CASEY WALKER, AND ELIZABETH SPENCER
Leaders and advocates in the STEM community by day, the female-forward Jersey City team Slice Girls, took first prize with their own hack to handle carrying excess baggage in the COVID age. The award-winning design for their fashion meets function wearables can be attached to any watch, so you can leave the house without carrying your purse or wallet. The first component features a collapsable door pull that attaches to the carrier’s watch, eliminating the wearers need to touch potentially dirty door handles. The second watch friendly accessory features a small hand sanitizer dispenser that can clip on to the wearer’s watch. Last, but not least the team came up with a small container that can hold small amounts of medication while you are on the go.
The team’s wearables can also be hooked to a headband, dog leash, attached to shoelaces, a wrist band, a carabiner, and more.
BY TEAM BUNNYPAPR | HOWARD CHONG, MICHAEL NOES, AND ETHAN WHITE
Team Bunny PAPR set out to address the worldwide N95 equipment shortage, with an open-source, user-friendly, and scalable Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR). The team’s goal is to help the world get back to work, life, and end social distancing. They also want to help frontline workers safely do their jobs.
Unlike commercial PAPRs which cost $1,000, the Bunny PAPR costs only $30. Benefits include compatibility with wearables, higher comfort levels than other PPE, and support for people that are unable wear N95 masks due to breathing conditions. The team’s affordable, hospital grade PPE can be made of commonly available parts around the world. Team Bunny PAPR’s gear is reusable, disposable, and easily sterilized.
BY BLIZZARD ROBOTICS | RIYA BHATIA, ABEER BAJPAI, PETER XU
California high school team Blizzard Robotics drew inspiration for their project from visiting hospitals and orthodontics offices. They found out that when people exited, entered, and used facilities such as bathrooms at the centers, they were forced to touch the same door handle to get in and out of the place. This meant that if the door is not sanitized properly the viruses and bacteria on one person’s hands were being transferred to other people, and if one person sneezed into their hands, this same virus would get transferred to others as well.
In order to address the issue of spreading infections through shared surfaces, they created universal door handle attachments that can be placed on the top or side of most existing door handles. When a person needs to open a door, they use their arm to push down or to the side of the door handle, depending on the orientation of the door handle. When pulling their arm back, the raised lip on the attachment hooks onto the user’s arm, allowing the person to “grab” the door despite using no hands in the process. The attachment works for push-doors as well, as the attachment forms a platform over the handle itself, allowing one to turn the door handle by pushing down with the side of their arm and pushing the door open. The final product can be attached onto door handles using zip ties.
“Our goal is to be responsible partners in the ecosystem that we are currently a part of, while acting as a catalyst for innovation, and we are the only all volunteer PPE group in the country doing an event like this,” said Handsman. “We want to pay it forward, enable our hackers to walk away with enough feedback and support to launch their own successful ventures that can continue to support the battle against COVID, and combat supply chain disruption through maker-led initiatives.”
JCRMRG hopes to continue to follow and support the hackathon teams after the event by connecting winning teams with mentors and resources. Additionally, the group will continue to support the maker community with future initiatives, as well as further their mission to produce and donate face shields to front line workers across the United States throughout the COVID-19 crisis.