2 November 2018

Gulbenkian debuts at the Web Summit

Technology in the service of people. This is the spirit with which the Gulbenkian Foundation took four projects to the Web Summit this month.

Technology in the service of people. This is the spirit with which the Gulbenkian Foundation is taking four projects to the Web Summit this month.

Along with another nine, this team was invited onto the improvised stage in Oporto’s Correios Palace in order to present their project. Ana Sousa, elected group spokesperson, tried to convince the jury of the third edition of the digital Hack for Good marathon, run by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, to award their project – “an add-on to smartphones that in 15 seconds enables the measurement of variations in pupil dynamics and thus detect neurodegenerative diseases”.

 

As a result of her passion, Ana not only convinced the jury but also took home the 5,000 euros for the first prize in the Hack for Good and obtained direct access to the Bootcamp in order to continue the work alongside the promise to appear at November’s Web Summit.

Ana has not rested since the beginning of May. A doctoral biomedicine engineering student (as are two other team members with the remaining three coming from IT engineering backgrounds), she has continued to research and invest in order to improve the algorithms. The project name changed from Eye Brain to New Hubert, because “there was a lot around eye, brain and neuro”. “And also because this name”, she added, “has its own story:

James Parkinson, the pioneer in this work and who gave his name to the disease, went by the pseudonym of Old Hubert. We reformulated the name and adopted New Hubert as we are taking a new look at the disease.” Parkinson is the first target for this new application that, should everything go well, might reach the market “in two or two and a half years time”. To comply with this goal, the team hopes to arrange partners, clients and investors at the Web Summit. Only afterwards, with the app already available for patients with Parkinson’s, might they then expand its scope to other degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or multiple sclerosis.

Here I go off to the Web Summit
Ana and her team are not the only ones the Foundation is taking off to the Summit, the largest technology conference ever held in Lisbon. New Hubert is joined by three other striking participants in the Hack for Good: Mynutriscan, LITMaker and Aurora.
Mynutriscan (which performed as Barcoders in the digital marathon in Oporto, where it picked up second place in the competition) is now going to the Web Summit to show how a smartphone may help people (with chronic diseases, allergies and other dietary conditions) to adapt what they find on the shelves of a supermarket to their own personal diets.

LITMaker, ranked third in the Oporto Hack for Good, aims to promote technological education among young persons (aged between 10 and 14) through a DIY kit that brings together creativity and logical thinking, enhancing the understanding of cause and effect and stimulating curiosity in the computer sciences.

The only project that did not make the Hack for Good podium and is now going to the Web Summit is called Aurora and represents an application promising to help potential or actual young parents deal with doubts and anxieties over pregnancy and the early years of childhood.

From pregnancy to degenerative diseases, taking in healthy and personalised diets and access by young persons to the world of computing, these are the four projects that received Gulbenkian Foundation support and are on their way to the Web Summit.