Twenty-four hours. Three hacking missions. Sixty students and lecturers. So let’s order pizzas and stay up all night! Great, right? Hacking is basically nothing more than using technology to change the operation of an existing tool or programme. So you can also use it to do good things. That is why we thought of some cases that could benefit from hacking, so in one night we made a simple thermostat smart, we cracked the code for informal caregivers for their own good, and we deepened the conversations between home carers and clients. Our hackathon provided us with prototypes that can mean something in these areas.

Hacking, no slacking

The students and lecturers of The Next Web minor of the Communication and Multimedia Design programme of the NHL brought their laptops and sleeping bags to Nedap, but nobody wanted to go to sleep. Everyone wanted to crack on! And the results were great. And we might even actually use the developed prototypes. Or perhaps one of the hackers will do that when he or she joins us for a traineeship. Why not? Our hackathon was also a way for students of The Next Web minor to acquaint themselves with Nedap as they will be working on assignments for us, so it will be good for them to already know who we are. All the hours of hacking and no slacking have certainly not been wasted.

'Cracking on and no sleep'

Hacking for warmth, attention, and care

So what did they come up with? Our hackers worked on three cases in the areas of user experience, hardware, and software. This resulted in:

  • A really smart thermostat: how annoying is it when the sunlight falls on your smart thermostat so the heating system is not activated? And you are sitting in a cold house. We hacked a piece of the thermostat knob and made it able to communicate with the internet so that you can operate the thermostat knob from a device. Such a smart thermostat knob can make its own decision on whether the room is warm enough and it is no longer dependent on the thermostat itself which may not be in the sun.
  • Attention for informal caregivers: who is actually taking care of the caregivers? They often have a stressful life with all the extra care tasks they have and, from their caring role, they often find it difficult to ask for help themselves. Our hackers thought that they deserved attention as well. They came up with a way to assess how informal caregivers feel themselves based on the messages they send to each other in the Carenzorgt portal. Can they still manage? Or can somebody use some extra support?
  • Conversation starters for home carers: as a home carer you visit a lot of people at their own homes. You like to give personal attention, but the short amount of time and high work pressure sometimes make that difficult. Suppose that, just before you get to a client’s house, you get a tip via an app that says: ‘the first grandchild was born last week’. Then you can use that tip to start a personal conversation with your client. A conversation starter like: ‘I hear that you have just become a grandfather, congratulations!’ will immediately create a personal and nice first contact. Our hackers devised a way to make this possible.

'We hacked thermostats, informal caregivers, and conversations'

Think and do

We only had twenty-four hours for the hackathon. Organising it took me four weeks. Or actually two and a half because I already had a holiday booked! The idea for the hackathon came from one of the lecturers of the programme and naturally I was very keen to do it. So let’s get started! That is typical Nedap: you think of something and then you just go ahead and do it. You get the scope and freedom to do it in your way. Luckily, I had the help of my colleagues because the organisation was a bigger job than I expected. I could not have done without it with Marlou Stoeten. And the help from Mark Oude Veldhuis and Luuk Oudshoorn was indispensable as well! Even so, on the morning of the hackathon, I was still driving around to collect beanbags and popcorn machines: a hackathon must be challenging but also relaxed and well-organised. The organisation took a lot of energy but the energy I got in return was so much greater. On to the next session!

Nedapper Stefan Vermaas

‘Within Nedap Healthcare, I mostly focus on the development of new products. Two and a half years ago, and together with Ons Groepszorg, I started on a group planning product for elderly people and people with intellectual disabilities. Now I am working on a new product that has more to do with people’s behaviour. For me, working at Nedap means doing the things I like doing and which give me energy. That’s great for me, and for the company. I like to mean something for people, to help them. And that is what I can do at Healthcare: I’m not a doctor but I can still contribute to healthcare in my own way.’