About ATHack


The goal of ATHack is to bring awareness to the important field of developing assistive technologies. We pair teams of students with clients in the Boston/Cambridge community who live with a disability. Each client has a problem in mind which they face because of their disability. Over the course of the hackathon, students brainstorm, design, and create prototype solutions for their client.


Check this page in the fall for ATHack 2018 dates and information!

Meet-the-Clients Dinner

February 13th, 2017 7:30 PM
@W20 Lobdell, 2F of MIT Student Center

ATHack 2017

March 4th, 2017 8:00 AM
@Beaverworks, 2F of 300 Technology Square

ATHack 2017 Closing Ceremony

March 4th, 2017 7:30 PM
@Forbes Cafe, 1F of Ray and Maria Stata Center


What shop tools will be available for use?

Participants will have access to the Beaverworks lab area and machine shop, with supervision. This includes drills, hand tools, a laser cutter, and other machines.

What materials will be available to work with?

We will provide a stock of basic materials and some special contributions from sponsors - including Arduinos, Raspberry Pis, breadboards, acrylic, and Oculus VR. Participants will have a chance to request specific materials after forming teams with a client.

Am I expected to produce a working prototype my client can use?

The purpose of ATHack is to get students involved in creating and hacking with the AT space. Clients understand that the results of the hackathon may not be an immediately usable project. But if you'd like to continue developing your project after the hackathon with your client, we're happy to help and provide some resources.

Is this only for software engineers? Do I need to have previous project experience?

AT projects are interdisciplinary! We're looking for mechanical engineerings, electrical engineerings, software engieners, designers - anyone who is interested in creating products in the realm of AT. The hackathon is about learning and creating - if you're excited about the projects, you're welcome to participate.

Will the client be telling us exactly what they want us to make? Is there a creative aspect to the hackathon?

Clients are looking for your ideas and inspiration so that they can work with their teams on an AT project. No one will be dictating what you're building during the event.

Who is allowed to participate?

The hackathon is open to MIT undergrads, grad students, and affiliates. The hackathon is also open to students from other universities, though we unfortunately cannot provide any travel assistance.


Tally Portnoi

Ishwarya Ananthabhotla

Jaya Narain

Emma Nelson

Jen Tylock

Annie Dai

Alex Chen

Sally Beiruti

Carla Troyas

Hosea Siu

Amanda Fike

This hackathon was founded with the help of Professor Seth Teller. We continue to be inspired by him.

Past Projects

Projects from ATHack 2017!

We really appreciated all of the hard work, time, and dedication put in by all of the teams during last year's hackathon! Here's a list of the winners and runner ups from 2016.

1st Place: Team Alex, who designed and mounted a way for a local filmmaker with cerebral palsy to use his feet to independently control a DSLR to take photos and videos.

2nd Place: Team Dan, who built a web-based platform and accompanying hardware to allow Dan to control his TV and lights remotely and quickly send text messages.

3rd Place: Team Meri, who built a robust and adjustable stylish head-mounted stylus!

Other Projects:

Team Alexis worked on creating an app that uses crowd-sourcing to map out regions of high sensory activity (eg. construction, steam vents) in a city, for users with Asperger's Syndrome

Team Andrew designed and built creative and easy-to-use hangers with personalized aesthetics to make it easier and more enjoyable for Andrew, a teenager with autism, to hang his clothes

Team Bobby designed a high-powered ball thrower that can be controlled from a tablet to allow Bobby, a man with ALS, to play fetch with his dog

Team Dennis designed and prototyped a fold-up platform to for Dennis's elderly guide dog, Vinny, to ride along on the back of Dennis's wheelchair

Team Elaine built a cost-effective mechanism to allow a one-handed musician to play the flute

Team Erich built an web-based application and sensing system to detect an empty seat in a bus and communicate to a visually impaired user how to navigate to the seat.

Team Jeffrey designed and prototyped a device for blind users that can be mounted in a refrigerator and sounds an alarm when the refrigerator door is left open, and when there is a power failure.

Team Jerry prototyped a quick-attach umbrella for a wheelchair that Jerry can operate easily and independently

Team John created an app for John, an autistic teenager, that uses the voices and images of John's favorite Disney characters to help him complete household tasks

Team Lilly designed and prototyped a wheel and caster system to enable Lilly, a third-grader, to use her walker to traverse over sand, gravel, and other terrains

Team Max 3D printed mechanical tools to help Max, a six-year-old with symbrachydactyly, play the drums comfortably for long periods of time

Team Susan prototyped a one-handed remote-controlled motorized shopping cart to for Susan, a woman with chronic fatigue system and limited functional use of her right arm and leg

Team Teddy prototyped a lightweight travel stander for Teddy, a seven-year-old boy who needs to use a stander every day to help his bone health, circulation, and vision

Team Whitney built a head support device that allows enough motion for driving and eating for Whitney, who has dropped head condition resulting from radiation and chemotherapy

Thank you again to all of the teams that particpated last year! We greatly appreciate your time and efforts and we look forward to seeing you again this year!

Team Alex mounts their camera controls system on Alex's wheelchair

Team Meri personalizes the cap for their head-controlled stylus

Lilly tests new wheels for her walker as her team observes

Team Whitney gets feedback on their brace design

Team Andrew shows judges the hangers they have created

Team Dan works on hardware to allow for remote control of a TV from a tablet

More Details on Past Projects:



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