THE winners of the Digicel TT Foundation’s Hackathon, the Ryu Dan Dojo Conquerors, presented a concept of using mixed realities to enable secondary school students to attend school virtually from their homes. Their project will be developed by Digicel as part of their prize winnings.
The day-long hackathon was the highlight of the foundation’s tech empowerment event Girls Power Tech 2020, which was held on August 21 under the theme Creating a Digital World. Over 120 girls between the ages of 15 to 21 in 13 teams were asked to develop technology-based solutions related to three areas affected by the covid19 pandemic.
The girls were encouraged to use new technology to solve problems or create new opportunities under the topics Saving Lives, Saving Education, and Saving Businesses. The teams were given three different types of technology to use. They used animation using Animaker software, app development using Ionic software, and mixed reality using Unity. Mixed reality is the merge of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualisations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time.
The final product of the hackathon was a presentation by each group, capturing the ideas they put together during the day. The winning presentation by Ryu Dan Dojo Conquerors dealt with using mixed reality to enable teachers and students to interact with each other and different environments without leaving their houses.
Other teams which developed ideas around saving education were: Tech Warriors from Gasparillo Secondary school, who developed a Rent-A-Net app to provide low-cost rental of laptops and mobile hotspots; Robotic Rebels, whose project looked at using a mix of augmented and virtual realities to enable students to be able to get a better view of hands-on demonstrations by teachers; Robotic Rebels, who proposed a Techno Key Learning Classroom, a mixed reality virtual classroom with a virtual teacher and students; GSS Queens who developed an app called So-Fi, a solar internet app to be used by children and teenagers aged 11 to 19 for distance learning; and, North Coast Sports Academy, who proposed an app called N4 which would allow primary school children to learn without using the internet.
The teams which tackled the saving businesses category were the El Dorado Golden Techies, who proposed creating 60 second animated videos for small businesses, allowing them to showcase themselves authentically; Leading Ladies, who developed a bilingual app called Find It! which could be used to find open businesses in the user’s area; and IT Rangers, whose QuiteBizzy app enables businesses to consult with tech consultants for virtual business.
Three teams tackled the saving lives challenge. They were Cashew Gardens [RSC] Tech Club, who proposed a GloVibe glove which could detect the covid19 virus in those nearby and the wearer, and which would incorporate a GPS tracker and an app for transmission of information to health officials; Tech Girls, whose Covid Compass TT incorporated a contact tracker, symptom tracker, informational articles and other features; and PTTC Kryptonite Girls who developed an app called Contact Tracking using a mobile phone.
Five tech booth holders presented on their work in technology during the day, including Coded Arts, RSC (Restore a Sense of I Can ), CISCO, Digicel Business Solutions, Startl and Tobago Information Technology Limited.
There were three guest speakers over the course of the day. Fashion creative and culture professional Ris Ann Martin spoke to the participants about the concept of worthiness in their personal lives. She reminded them that their first career choice does not have to be their only choice. Martin shared her experience in using innovation and technology to inform every step of her design process, including digital art design, sourcing raw materials, sales, website design and event planning.
Lawyer and former Miss Universe Wendy Fitzwilliam spoke to the girls about how to present themselves online, especially on social media, as this could have real-time consequences.
“The impact that technology can have on your life can be devastating. Think about those who have lost careers in the post-George Floyd world because of off-the-cuff angry posts that were shared. Sometimes it’s a simple error that hangs around forever. You have to think about what you post, it’s a publication with/to Joe Public.”
She said they should also be careful of security as they could be targeted based on their real-time posts. Another aspect she addressed was that of potential employers finding them online and she advised that they should present themselves online as they would wish to be seen. She said the girls should understand the basics of all the tools they need to use online as part of their lives.
The third presenter was freelance cinema 4D generalist/designer and animator Sekani Solomon, who worked on the Black Panther and Star Wars: The Last Stand movies, among others. Solomon shared his experiences becoming interested in design while growing up in Tobago, moving to the US, working his way through different projects and educating himself in character animation, visual effects and motion design.
General manager Digicel Business Solutions Liam Donnelly said the company was reaching out to inspire over 150 girls to pursue careers in ICT.
“We are anxious for a world where young girls are breaking the mould and making a full leap towards creating a digital future, especially in the current climate. Girls Power Tech is a platform for all young women to get involved in this male-dominated world and we have a responsibility to provide opportunities for young people to reach and maximise their potential. In some instances it’s harcore IT but in most it’s about using technology to transform traditional careers and I think it’s ever-changing.”