At the first-ever Canadian Breast Cancer Hackathon, the BETTY Bot stood out like a bikini on an icy winter day. About 100 aspiring entrepreneurs joined the hackathon in July at downtown Vancouver’s Launch Academy, where the focus was to improve breast-cancer awareness through mobile tech-powered self-check reminders for early detection.
The winning team for the AI bot that won the competition described their creation as a girl’s ‘Breast Friend,’ reported Annee Ngo, VP of ProtoHack. The BETTY Bot intends to use Facebook messenger to remind users to self-check breasts for early signs of cancer, and will be designed to look like a close girlfriend, using casual language that gets your attention.
The event was co-sponsored by ProtoHack, Victory Square Labs, Launch Academy, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, and Lina’s Dream Endowment Fund. At the hackathon, teams conceptualized, brainstormed, prototyped, and pitched ideas helping the cause of breast cancer for early detection. Coders created 14 new breast cancer awareness technologies with a market application.
The hackathon showed how technology can be used for good causes, noted Ray Walia, Launch Academy CEO and Victory Square Labs co-founder and managing director. “We realize that as technology advances, so do the opportunities to use it to help drive awareness of medical issues, increase early diagnoses and someday, even find cures.”
“We brought this event to Vancouver to show a tangible example of how entrepreneurs, the tech industry and the medical community can collaborate and take steps toward making that happen,” Walia said.
The hackathon addressed a major health issue, as breast cancer affects one in nine Canadian women in their lifetime, according to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. “In BC, mammograms are only available to women over 40 (unless a family history exists or one is recommended by a doctor),” Ngo noted in a post-event press release. “Therefore, education for the 18 to 39 age bracket is critical.”