Hackathon-winning app gives health advice based on air quality

The winning team at the Hyper Haze Hack hackathon, Hazero, came up with an app idea to give people practical health advice on what to do based on PSI levels at their very location. (From bottom left, clockwise) Kexin Yu, 24; Ravi Gandhi, 26; Quah Kok Kiong, 24; Chen Bingxiong, 25; Ngan Dinh, 21 and Koh Jiekai, 31. PHOTO: NANYANG TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY

An app that gives people practical health advice based on air quality has emerged as the winner of a haze-themed hackathon - an event that lets programmers meet people in other fields to work on software projects.

Hyper Haze Hack, held at Google Singapore's auditorium yesterday, paired programmers with industry experts, students and members of the public to come up with tech solutions that can help beat the haze.

The winning entry, Hazero, is an app that informs users of the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reading in their immediate area, while offering advisories based on the individual user's health.

Users must enter basic details about themselves, like whether they have existing medical conditions.

The app draws data from National Environment Agency's haze website and presents the information in a manner that is easy to understand.

Ms Ngan Dinh, 21, one of the six members in the team behind Hazero, said the inspiration for it came from their observations about how people use haze information.

"We realised that even when people have access to PSI readings, they often do not know what to do with the information. Thus we decided to come up with an app that lets them easily interpret it," said Ms Dinh, an undergraduate at Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) Nanyang Business School.

Hazero impressed judges with its simple but practical and creative use of technology.

"The way the app takes numbers from a website and displays that information in a form that is usable, even by the elderly, is really innovative," said Google operations manager Andrew Purcell, who was one of the three judges at the event.

The Hazero team won $1,000 in cash, an invitation to NTU's Earth Observatory of Singapore, and a chance to pitch their app to Singapore Press Holdings' journalists for media coverage.

Organised by local media lab Newsplex Asia, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, Online News Association (Singapore) and the Hacks/ Hackers Singapore Chapter, Hyper Haze Hack was attended by about 100 participants who presented 11 apps.

The second prize went to Need Mask, an alarm clock-style reminder telling users when they should wear masks. Hazelnut, an app that advises people on whether they should do outdoor activities based on the PSI reading, came in third.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2015, with the headline Hackathon-winning app gives health advice based on air quality. Subscribe