Hacking for Health

Macadamian Technologies | January 6, 2015 | 5 Min Read

Participating teams were tasked with developing solutions that demonstrated the use of sensors, data collection, and the interconnectedness of hardware and software.

At Macadamian, we are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to learn new technologies and unleash our creative spirit. To that end, Macadamian hosts a global internal hackathon called MacHack. This annual themed competition challenges our design and development teams to create solutions for real-world end-user and business problems.

This year, the guiding themes were healthcare and the Internet of Things (IoT).  Participating teams were tasked with developing solutions that demonstrated the use of sensors, data collection, and the interconnectedness of hardware and software. With 9 teams, just over 60 participants, and 5 judges; the following healthcare prototypes were designed and developed over a 24 hour time period.


Feeling a baby’s first movements can be a very special moment, but it can also be worrisome. Mothers-to-be begin to experience doubts around whether the baby kicking is enough or too much. Is the baby fully formed? Nutty-Baby was developed to address these maternal concerns. The solution uses a vibration sensor and an electric imp to detect movements of the baby, and can be linked to a smartphone to calculate the number of times the baby kicks per day. This information helps physicians and parents in the early detection of intrauterine hypoxia, anaemia, or miscarriages.

Breathe Free

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease characterized by the build-up of thick, sticky mucus that can damage many of the body’s organs. The disorder’s most common signs and symptoms include progressive damage to the respiratory system and chronic digestive system problems.

Patients with cystic fibrosis need to do rigorous airway clearance exercises to keep their lungs clear of mucus and to prevent infections. These exercises can be hard to master, especially with young children. Using components such as Raspberry Pi, Spark Core, IR detectors, flow meters, cardboard forms, and software; 3 game applications were developed to simplify breathing exercises in addition to making them fun and engaging.


The idea of a smart pillbox was one that was approached in a number of different ways. The first, SmartBox, was developed to reduce the number of patient errors when following a prescribed medication. A strict medication schedule is critical in the treatment of certain diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The smart box notifies a patient when a pill should be consumed and any schedule deviations are sent to caregivers.


This version of a smart pillbox works with a web and mobile application. Patients or caregivers can create and follow an automated medication schedule in addition to being able to view a history of medication. Electric Imp, servo motors, and some handmade tools were used to create this prototype.


MedConnect was developed as an aide-memoire to help ensure that patients never take an extra dosage. Patients and/or caregivers are notified when a dose has been forgotten. The application uses NFC on a smartphone to connect to a smart pillbox connected to the cloud using a Spark Core. Another variation on the MedConnect concept was a smart inhaler for asthma patients.

It’s A Wash!

Did you know that hand washing is by far the best way to prevent germs from spreading and to keep from getting sick? Researchers estimate that if everyone washed their hands, a million deaths a year could be prevented. The application “It’s A Wash!” was developed to encourage children to wash their hands. This solution is powered by Spark Core and Raspberry Pi, a Wii fit board to detect washroom foot traffic, light sensors to detect hand proximity to a sink, valve sensors to control soap and water, and simple circuit to detect a toilet flushing. A cartoon squirrel guides children through washing their hands vigorously. Usage statistics are tracked in the cloud.

Med Bracelet

Med Bracelet is a wearable panic button for outpatients continuing treatment at home. In the event that a patient isn’t feeling well, they simply press a button on the Med Bracelet which triggers an alert to a central server at a hospital and provides first responders with the exact GPS coordinates of the person in need of assistance. The bracelet uses colored lights to indicate that the alert has been sent, received and that a doctor is on the way. The bracelet can also be configured to detect temperature and send the same alerts in case the patient’s temperature is higher or lower than configured.

Hydration Monitoring System

Did you know that water makes up more than half of your body weight? Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs water to function correctly.  The Hydration Monitoring System uses a pressure sensor glued to a mug to track of what and how much a user is drinking. The application sends alerts on body hydration levels.  With this application, users are made aware of hydration levels and patterns over time.


Bad posture and sitting for long periods of time can lead to severe issues such as back and neck damage, headaches, and shoulder and back pain. To address these issues, the BackUp prototype was created to determine activity levels, monitor posture, and supervise physical rehabilitation exercises. Electric imps in combination with flex sensors and an accelerometer went into creating the wearable prototype.

Bringing knowledge and experience to Hacking Health Montreal

As a company with a lot of experience in healthcare software, Macadamian also sent a team of designers, an architect, and our global Director of Engineering to Montreal for Hacking Health.  Our team participated as mentors forming groups, reviewing pitches, sharing technical and healthcare sector knowledge, and providing feedback on product pitch clarity, user experience design, and problem-solving.

Interested in learning more about our activities in Healthcare and Internet of Things projects and expertise, contact us.

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