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USC Center for Body Computing announces 2018 “Voice Assistants for All” hackathon with $10,000 prize

LOS ANGELES – The USC Center for Body Computing (CBC) at Keck Medicine of USC is hoping to solve unmet healthcare needs using home-based digital assistants at its 2018 “Voice Assistants for All” hackathon on July 12–13, 2018. Teams of innovators will be challenged with creating solutions that will enable people with developmental disabilities, as well as seniors and veterans, to have more control over their healthcare. The overnight event will conclude with team presentations and judging by experts in the fields of computer science, creative arts, medicine, science and engineering. The winning team will receive $10,000 and an opportunity to collaborate with the CBC and industry leaders to bring their idea to life.

“This is an opportunity to find technology-based solutions that can empower people who are underserved by mainstream healthcare,” says Leslie Saxon, MD, executive director of the CBC and professor of medicine (clinical scholar) at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “Emerging artificial intelligence voice assistants like Google Home and Amazon Echo might help us bridge that gap.”

This year’s hackathon, co-hosted with the WITH Foundation, will require participants to use voice assistants to foster deeper connections, encourage informed health care decision-making and identify gaps in care. Our intent is to encourage solutions that make sure the patient is involved in decision making regarding their care and that their expectations for their healthcare and healthcare needs are known and met. “WITH is excited about our partnership with USC’s Center for Body Computing.  We look forward to seeing the ways that participants engage the use of voice assistants as an effective healthcare tool”, says Ryan Easterly, executive director of the WITH Foundation.  

Voice assistants can serve as an effective healthcare tool by providing medical information, helping with schedules and keeping records of interactions, Saxon explains.

“Digital technology is especially helpful, because much of healthcare still exists outside of a doctor’s visit. They provide an opportunity to share tools and information directly to people within their own homes,” she says. “Research has also shown that virtual humans can increase the willingness of people to disclose information by decreasing fears of evaluation and judgment.”

The hackathon will take place at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies in Playa Vista, CA. For more information about the hackathon, visit



About the USC Center for Body Computing

The USC Center for Body Computing (CBC) is a digital health research and innovation center that is creating technology-driven health care solutions for a modern age. Collaborating with inventors, strategists, designers, investors and visionaries from health care, entertainment and technology, the CBC serves as a national leader on digital health and wearable technology. One of the nation’s first university-based centers to focus on digital health solutions, the CBC was founded in 2006 at the Keck School of Medicine of USC by Leslie Saxon, a USC-trained cardiologist and internationally renowned digital health expert.

For more information, go to

About the WITH Foundation

Established in 2002, the WITH Foundation is a private foundation that promotes comprehensive and accessible healthcare for adults with developmental disabilities.  The “Voice Assistants for All” Hackathon is funded through WITH’s Digital Health Initiative which seeks to ensure that the future of digital health includes the perspective and experiences of the IDD community. WITH believes that if technology meets the needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, it results in better technology for all.

To learn more about WITH, please see:



Thursday, May 17, 2018