‘Build a 3D virtual/augmented reality app to help understand life science.’ With this goal in mind, the sixteen participants in SIB’s first bioinformatics hackathon put their heads together to ‘gamify’ science on 13-14 May 2017 at the Campus Biotech in Geneva.
After a brief introduction, a few croissants and many more coffees, the teams came up with a range of exciting projects, including a game to ‘kill pain in 3D’. In this application, using augmented reality, the Player uses his phone to ‘shoot’ a 3D anti-inflammatory drug at the COX-2 protein, which is responsible for pain sensation.
The QRKim team*, who developed a prototype of this game, was selected to present the idea the next day at the Hackathons show of the Open Geneva Hackathons event.
“In this game, we focused on the COX-2 protein, its role and the impact of anti-inflammatory drugs on it. But this idea could be extended to explain a large number of biological concepts”, says Mathieu Schaeffer, a member of the QRKim team and PhD student (SIB and University of Geneva).
“Augmented reality has a lot of potential in education and outreach – something we may never have realized without this hackathon!” observes Daniel Teixeira, from the SIB Technology Group and CALIPHO.
The SIB event brought together developers, cybersecurity experts, designers, computer science students as well as bioinformaticians from the Epitech Graduate School of Digital Innovation (Lyon), CERN, the University of Lausanne and SIB. “It was a really fun experience to work on a totally new project with people coming from different fields of work”, says Mathieu.
Who said coding is only for adults? Kids were in the spotlight too as SIB also held a hackathon for them (and their parents).
Aged 7 to 14, twenty budding computer scientists were introduced to biology, bioinformatics and the Scratch programming language. "With programming I can create anything, it is really fun!" says Juan-Nicolas, 12 years old. "It is highly appreciated that scientists are bringing research to the public, and to children in particular, by organising such workshops. My son was delighted to take part: he would like to have this kind of tuition at school", points out his mother, who came along to the hackathon.
They went on to design their own applications and, in only a few hours, came up with great projects, such as a ‘Super Mario game’, a ‘protein sequence search’ and an applauded ‘Protein vs DNA clapometer’ presented by Kilian** (11 years old) at the Hackathon show on Sunday.
Reflecting on the event, Heinz Stockinger, SIB’s CTO and Chair of the Organising Committee for SIB’s hackathons, was stoked: “After the event, many kids carried on coding at home!”
Congratulations to all participants!
Demo of the augmented reality game to ‘kill pain’, an application developed by the QRKim team
(c) Open Geneva Hackathons
*The ‘QRKim team’: Carolina Lindqvist, Mohammad Oday Darwich, Max Mosimann, Marcin Domagalski, Rocio Rama Ballesteros, Mathieu Schaeffer and Roland Sako
(c) Open Geneva Hackathons
**Kilian Stockinger, 11 years old
SIB Hackathon, track 1: 3D/Virtual Reality for Bioinformatics
SIB Hackathon, track 2: Scratch programming for kids