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Israeli techies hold hackathon to innovate solutions for people with autism

Israeli techies hold hackathon to innovate solutions for people with autism

Winning team develops an app that helps improve the sleep quality of autistic children many of whom suffer from sleep disorders

Yafit Ovadia | 15:10  07.12.2020
Teams of Israeli innovators and entrepreneurs took part alongside parents, teachers, and autistic youth in a virtual tech marathon last week in parallel to the International Day for Persons with challenges and special needs, which falls on Dec. 3 and ahead of the annual fundraising event for children and adults on the Autism Spectrum on January 4th. The goal of the event, which was sponsored by the Israeli Society for Autistic Children (ALUT), Microsoft, the Open University, Facebook, Intel, Bank Hapoalim, the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, Access Israel, the Tel Aviv Municipality, and many others, was to create innovative technological solutions for the challenges of children and adults on the Autism Spectrum.

The event was coined Hackautism 2.0 and saw the teams compete in a virtual hackathon to come up with solutions to common problems faced by autistic people. The winners included a technical innovation to improve sleep quality, a computer game to improve non-verbal communication - a struggle that is particularly felt by this population; and a job-finding platform that is geared to the needs and challenges of autistic persons or those on the Autistic Spectrum.

The Autisleep team that won first prize for their invention The Autisleep team that won first prize for their invention The Autisleep team that won first prize for their invention

Rimon Tubin, Vice President of Technology and Innovations at Pangea-IT was the one to initiate the event that was inspired by his son Yuval, who is a youth with Autism.

“We chose to transfer the continuous challenges of persons on the Autistic Spectrum by creating growth for them and the whole of society. Our dream is not to fly to the moon, rather to bring our children to a loving and compassionate environment,” said Tubin.

The event took place virtually, and the first place went to a team comprised of Barak Lizorik, Roman Karasik, Maayan Rosenboim, Yishay Mendelsohn, Maayan Sarda, and Carmel Ariel who developed a product they termed “Autisleep,” which helps improve the sleep quality of autistic children by monitoring heart rate, breathing, movement, and sleep through a smart algorithm that is stored in a Cloud, which a child’s parents may access and find what disturbs their child, what changes can be made, and how his or her sleep can be improved. In a startling fact, some 44%-83% of Autistic children suffer from sleep disorders compared to 1%-6% of the average children’s population.

Second place went to Ron Liraz and Moran Fuchs who designed an interactive video game to help children and young adults on the Autistic Spectrum who are unable to communicate with a platform that studies a person’s body language and facial expressions, and helps therapists and other professionals communicate with the person.

Third place went to Yehuda Gabizon, who built Remoterum, an internet site that offers job opportunities for people on the Autistic Spectrum who are looking for work, yet struggle with traditional methods of job-finding. It uses professional support and accompanies a person through complex hurdles, while assisting them in dealing with acute challenges they may face, and helping them find their place in the workplace.

The winners were chosen by a group of judges composed of people from various disciplines and fields. The first prize winners were granted NIS 75,000 ($23,000) to further develop their platform.

Tubin noted that for Autistic youth and adults, a space must be created for them in today’s society, and the public should be realistic about addressing the needs of the community while practicing compassion. “Our dream is not to fly to the Moon, rather to bring our children to a loving and compassionate environment.”

“The raising of Autism awareness (in Israel) to help this community warms my heart,” said Genreal Manager of Microsoft Israel Ronit Atad. “I am sure that the ideas and the investment will enlighten technological innovations that will continue to flourish and help those who need

it.”

Lastly, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin commented: “The dedicated investment and commitment to finding practical solutions for persons on the Autistic Spectrum, shows by personal example how we all should behave and live in order to promote integration and provide opportunities to every single citizen of Israel.”

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