Engineering Innovation for the Elderly

At a hackathon conducted at the new Innovation Center dedication in Ashdod, dozens of students presented solutions for problems facing the third age population

Students studying at the SCE Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center (EIC) received a challenge, to initiate and develop projects for the third age population. At the end of the week in which the students interviewed the elderly, examined various problems and designed specific solutions, they gathered for a competition in which each team presented its project.  

The competition was held at the new SCE Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center on the Ashdod campus and in fact launched its operation. The competition opened with a lecture in the gerontechnology field by Ms. Keren Etkin a well-known age-tech expert. The students then presented their projects and possible solutions to everyday problems encountered by the elderly, among them loneliness, filling forms and bureaucracy, memory and inter-generational gaps.

The “Grandma” team, for example, developed an application to help the elderly manage documents and conversations with service people. Using one button and a voice service the application helps the elderly schedule appointments, receive reminders about their appointments and more.

The panel of judges, comprised of professionals from relevant sectors and academia, included Dr. Asaf Peretz – Head of the Internal Medicine department at the Assuta Ashdod Medical Center; Omri Yalovsky, a faculty member at the EIC; Dr. Neta Kela, head of the EIC; Tovi Carmon, Head of the Innovation Center at the Amal and Beyond Group network of elder-care facilities and others. At the end of the competition the judges announced the winning teams in the first three places. The team that won first place presented a solution for the elderly with hearing problems in the form of a smart bracelet that vibrates and displays an icon according to the specific alert. The team presented three possible icons – a telephone icon for a mobile phone call, a blue door if someone is at the door and a red icon with a different vibration in the event of a red color alert warning of a rocket attack.

Dr. Neta Kela, head of the SCE Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center, summarized: “This is the first hackathon conducted at the new Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center on the Ashdod campus, and its goal was to find solutions for third-age challenges. The students were asked to develop technologies for healthy aging in the home setting. An important aspect of the project, as we saw, was to bridge the gap between the developer or the engineer and the users. This is why we sent the students out to “Operation Grandparents”, in order to learn about the significant challenges encountered by their grandparents in daily life. Thanks to the emphasis we place on adapting technology to real needs, and based on our unique learning approach, Industry Project Oriented – we are confident that that the projects presented in the competition will also be applicable in the real world and will meet consumer requirements”.