Innovation: Imagining the tools of the future at Hack Cambridge Recurse

Nearly 300 coders gathered in Cambridge to tackle set challenges including transforming research communication with technology.
Inside eLife
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On the last weekend of January, nearly 300 coders gathered in Cambridge for Hack Cambridge Recurse, a hackathon organised by local students. The participants had 24 hours to work on a project from scratch, building from available application programming interfaces (APIs) and other resources, and according to the challenges set by the sponsors. eLife challenged the participants to transform research communication with technology.

The eLife prize was awarded to team eXplore, for their prototype tool to give people personalised, plain-English insights into their sequenced genome data. The winners each received a Raspberry Pi 3 with GrovePi+ IoT kit.

Other projects submitted for the eLife prize included Knowledge Direct, a tool mapping the most efficient reading path for a literature review; SciChat, a live one-to-one chat room to connect scientists with members of the public; and HackRef, a text-analysis tool to draw out key topics from biomedical essays.

Throughout the weekend, members of the eLife team were on hand to discuss projects and issues, and to help hackers use the openly available eLife resources, including the eLife API and the eLife Lens API.

Naomi Penfold, eLife’s Innovation Officer, says: “We were delighted with the variety of ideas that the hackers proposed and we congratulate all entrants for the high quality of work they produced. Overall, we picked eXplore as the eLife prize winner because their hack addressed an important problem in genomics research: with the advent of personal genome sequencing, it is important that citizens can access and understand the latest research that relates to their own genetic variants. It was nice to see the eLife Lens reader used as a platform to make research personal.”

Learn more about the top three Hack Cambridge Recurse entries for the eLife prize at eLife Labs.