COMODAL Hackathon: designing products, apps and services for 50 – 70 year olds

Tuesday 17 June 2014

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As part of the dissemination activities of the Technology Strategy Board funded COMODAL (Consumer Models for Assisted Living) project, a hugely successful Hackathon took place at the Facebook office in Covent Garden on 22-23 March. This was preceded by a VIP launch on 21st of March at the OXO Tower in London. The event saw app designers and developers, and service and user experience designers competing to produce new apps and services to help older people in their everyday lives. Eight teams consulted with people aged 50 -70 years and used research outputs from the COMODAL project to design the innovative products, apps and services. The results were presented to a judging panel who selected the winning team based on the following criteria:

  1. How the needs, aspirations, desires and motivations of the people aged 50 - 70 were met.
  2. The life-changing factor represented by the solution.
  3. How the technological end-product fit into a wider social context. 
  4. Commercial viability.
  5. Utilisation of the COMODAL research findings to create the solution.

The winning team came up with a scheme that allows older generations to share experiences with younger generations, providing opportunities to alleviate loneliness and share skills, and to counter the income loss often associated with retirement. Two further teams were highly commended, with one team coming up with an idea for a new service that uses technology to help people to prepare for and look forward to retirement, and the other team devising an app that provides a new way for people to monitor their heart rate for health and fitness, and share results with relatives.

#HackforLiving was created for the event and successfully used to stimulate discussion to such an extent that it was top trending on twitter at one point during the weekend. A review of the Hackathon featured in two Guardian articles that can be found at and by clicking here and here. A video of the VIP Launch and Hackathon weekend can be found on YouTube.  

Those attending the Hackathon found it was a positive experience:

“Through the Hackathon we have been able to link technology and service designers with older customers to show that innovation and creativity can really drive significant change.  The event was a hugely rewarding experience.” Ian Rutter, Senior Manager at Age UK

“It has been a great weekend, thoroughly enjoyed by the whole team, and it's also great to know our idea is so highly appreciated. The win was an unexpected and pleasant surprise. We look forward to exploring how we can take the idea beyond the prototype.” Jeff Lau, winning app designer

“It was a huge pleasure to spend the day with such intelligent, well-researched and creative people.” Janet Tchamani, Age UK Internet Champion and judge

The COMODAL project was led by HDTI, with partners Age UK and Grandparents Plus, supported by Years Ahead and SEHTA. The project supported the development of a consumer market for assisted living technologies by: understanding consumer needs; developing solutions and consumer-led business models for electronic assisted living technologies; developing an industry support system for the practical implementation of the consumer-led business models; and, developing a consumer insights guide for industry.

Faceboook wall modified for the #HackforLiving weekend

Facebook wall modified for the #HackforLiving weekend

HDTI Director, Simon Fielden, announcing the winning team

HDTI Director, Simon Fielden, announcing the winning team

A team of Hackers at work

A team of Hackers at work