ELIZA wins Watson prize at TechCrunch Disrupt NY Hackathon

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I could tell you that hundreds showed up. That the hackers drank all the soda, hogged all the wifi and pizza. In fact I did that last year and all the above would be true this year as well. However, this time I really want to focus on the talent and creativity the devs showed at this year’s Disrupt NY Hackathon.

Our team was strategic and set up shop somewhere between catering and the restrooms, so it was a win-win for all. On site, we brought our top traveling devs to field questions about BlueMix, getting started with Watson and even some employment inquires [If you’re interested in what it’s like to work on team Watson, check out this and this.]

This year, we had 34 of the 90 Hack Disrupt teams work with Watson APIs and the projects were pretty impressive. They worked for 24 hours straight and then hit the live stage for one-minute demos of their creations. Teams pitched as the audience took notes and tweeted first impressions of each team’s presentation.

From a site that can store your phone calls as text, halo bots and math practice problems generator, we saw some great Watson applications, but one really stood out–ELIZA, the winner of this year’s IBM Watson prize at Hack Disrupt NY.

Created by Kathryn Hodge and Tae Hong Min, the app records voice memos on your mobile, real time and uses Watson’s Speech to Text translate your memo, query and determine your mental state. It allows you to measure your emotional health and your risk level for a mental disorder.

“The core feature of our app is based on mining sentiment analysis. Instead of recreating something that already exists, we decided to leverage Watson’s technologies that does it for us. We developed a way to grab relevant sentiment analysis in order to help the user find out more about the user’s psychological well being and help detect risk for mental disorders,” said Hodge.

The idea for the app was sparked by an observation they made at previous hackathons, “Both of us have attended multiple hackathons and tech conferences in the past and we noticed that there aren’t many technologies to help the people’s well being. We are passionate about building technology to help others in need – specifically in the health sector – as effectively and efficiently as possible,” shared Min.

“Eliza is very interesting because of the creative and potentially groundbreaking application of IBM Watson’s powerful Natural Language Processing technologies in the space of mental health. Understanding the context of someone’s mood over time could turn out to be a valuable tool for not only end users, but also mental health professionals who could gain crucial insight into their patients’ needs and pain points,” explains Michael Ludden, IBM Watson Product Management Developer Relations.

Kathryn Hodge is a computer science major and film minor at Vassar College. Tae Hong Min is a computer science and business major graduating Lehigh this year. Both look forward to developing the app after graduation.

See what other devs created with Watson on DevPost

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