There are so many ways to innovate and collaborate but there's nothing like a Hackathon to get a group of 150 parents, engineers, designers and healthcare providers in a big room together and seeing what happens. ASKlabs was thrilled to document the "Make the Breast Pump Not Suck!" Hackathon for the MIT Media Lab the weekend of September 20-21, 2014. Working with only a single video crew, our approach to documenting this Hackathon was to interview the Hackathon organizers and key advisors while filming innovation unfolding over the 36-hour timespan.
With incentives like top prize flying the winning team to the Silicon Valley, CA to pitch their concept to a venture capital company, the teams put in massive effort, working well into the night. Surprisingly big prizes did not deter the open-source collaboration and open exchange of ideas that is the foundation of Hackathons at MIT; concepts such as a 'zip-lock' tubing mechanism and a 'breast pump condom' were prototyped right before our eyes at the Hackathon. Being among all of that innovation and creativity was so inspiring that some of the Hackathon organizers even formed a team and developed their own concept. For the final presentations each team was required to create a powerpoint presentation, a short video, and a working prototype to present to an audience including a dozen judges comprised of industry leaders and experts. Teams came up with superhero utility belts, compression to replace the suck, and smart objects controlled by mobile phones.
The Hackathon was a huge success. With the goal of improving the breastfeeding and pumping experience for new moms and families, it was featured in every major news outlet from the BBC to The New Yorker magazine, not only meeting their goals, but also bringing awareness to inequities in U.S. maternity leave policies. The Hackathon set a Guinness Record for Most Babies Present at a Hackathon.
The Breast Pump Hackathon was organized by Tal Achituv, Catherine D'Ignazio, Alexis Hope, Taylor Levy, Alexandra Metral, Dave Raymond and Che-Wei Wang with guidance from Willow Brugh.
We at ASKlabs would like to thank the MIT Media Lab and Hackathon Organizers for involving us in this amazing project. We really enjoyed all the awesome moms, inventors, engineers, designers, hackers, and adorable babies we met along the way!
Hackathon Sponsors: Vecna Technologies, PejmanMar Ventures, Medela, Naia Health, Lansinoh, Simple Wishes, Pumping Essentials, Moxxly, Mamajamas, Ameda
Hackathon Partners: MIT Center for Civic Media, the MIT Center for Bits & Atoms, iKatun