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Opening Doors at 2019 Hackathon

October 14, 2019
Man lays on floor holding a robotic wheel to the bottom of a door

Aaron Morse, Project Manager/Sr. Analyst, shows off his team's prototype of a robotic door opener

Anchorage Project Manager Aaron Morse participated in the Alaska Dev Alliance's first-ever statewide “Hackathon” from October 11-13. This free community event occurred in Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Juneau simultaneously, with continuous live video conference across all three sites. Sponsors from government, education, and industry described challenges they face, then participants organized into teams to tackle the problems interesting them.

Projects ranged from the silly and amusing, to the practical, to things with commercial potential. Some example projects included

  • Eye glasses which used AI to shield the viewer’s eyes from “scary things”
  • An AI-driven Instagram account
  • A firefighting drone that watches for fire and drops fire retardant
  • A video game about a puffin’s journey to defeat a walrus

Aaron joined a team called “The Doors” which sought to develop a practical solution for people with disabilities to automatically open and close interior doors. The Doors hoped to develop a solution that was inexpensive and portable, easily installed, usable on any flooring, could integrate with smart home technology, and had multiple triggering modes (e.g., proximity, wireless, audio). The result was a working prototype which included a robotic wheel that attached to the base of an existing door and used Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The team won the award for Best Startup Idea.

Alaska Dev Alliance

The Alaska Developers Alliance is an organization focused on bringing together all segments of programmers from video game development and virtual reality to web development and enterprise software tooling. It was built as a community to get students plugged in earlier, provide continued learning opportunities for professionals, and inspire and educate the community. The Alliance bridges the geography of Alaska with chapters in Juneau, Anchorage, and Fairbanks, along with specific groups like the VMWare users group joining under the umbrella. It currently has over 200 members and regularly has meetups digitally joining all three locations including more than 50 people and streaming live on facebook.