EPAM Teams Hack for Good with Partner Estée Lauder
As the company behind the iconic Pink Ribbon and The Breast Cancer Campaign in more than 70 countries, the Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) is known around the world as a leader in the fight against breast cancer, raising more than $89 million to support global research and education. This year, to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month, ELC—which is an EPAM client—held a Virtual “Hack for Pink” Hackathon in October to call for solutions that drive breast cancer awareness, raise funds for breast cancer research, or help create a breast cancer-free world.
Among hundreds of participants, two EPAM teams were recognized with awards and grants, and one EPAM team brought home the ELC Virtual Hackathon Grand Prize. Learn more about their concepts below.
Pink & Blue App for Men and Women
First up: EPAM’s Pink & Blue App for Men and Women—a concept for a mobile app inspired by a previous solution created, which took home the Human Centric Innovation Award and a Final Team Award.
“Our project was inspired by an application EPAM had built for pediatric patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where users could join communities, support each other through treatment, and meet up based on their experiences—like a social media platform just for them,” explained Pink & Blue team lead Regine Jones, Senior Manager, Healthcare and Life Sciences Consulting, EPAM. “The idea got me thinking about the loneliness experienced by breast cancer patients, specifically male breast cancer patients and survivors. They often feel isolated and have very little support options available to them. Then, on the other side of the spectrum, the loneliness felt by the female breast cancer survivors as they get reacclimated into society is a real problem for remission rates. If they lack strong social support ties in the years following treatment, the results could be fatal,” Regine said, noting that death rates for survivors with reoccurring breast cancer can reach as high as 60%.
Inclusivity was one of the team’s guiding principles—which is why it’s available in multiple languages, users don’t need a social media account to sign up, and it was designed with both female and male breast cancer survivors in mind. Research shows that 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime, and 1 in 833 men will also develop breast cancer.
“Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate,” said Pink & Blue team member Ali Emir Marasligil, Director, Account Management, EPAM. “Just like female survivors are sometimes a silent group who need continual support, male breast cancer survivors are often left on the sidelines of the support groups that do exist and face an unfair stigma.”
Female survivors of breast cancer can experience high recurrence rates if they have weak social ties after recovery, while male patients struggle with feelings of isolation. EPAM’s Pink & Blue App for Men and Women would provide a 24/7 support ecosystem for both groups.
Taking home a slew of prizes—including in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) “Get Started” Program award, Final Team Award and the Grand Prize—was EPAM’s C-True Mirror, a concept for a smart home device that acts as a home health aide for users by using secure smart camera to detect physical changes in patients.
“While our idea is still in the proof-of-concept stage, we were able to validate it because of the wide-reaching potential it has as a smart home health device,” said Aliaksandr Babko, Senior Project Manager, Made Real Lab, EPAM, and the leader of the C-True Mirror team. “Since many other members of the team are part of EPAM’s Made Real Lab, we approached the hackathon like any other client engagement. We thought about how we could make our ideas real by putting the human at the center of our design. Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis, or even being worried that you notice a physical change in your body is a pretty intimate moment. With a device like the C-True Mirror, users can privately determine whether they need to seek medical attention.”
Although teams only had to submit a proof of concept for the ELC hackathon, one key piece of the submission requirements was to describe the technology on which their concept could be built. The hackathon allowed for any coding language and the use of libraries, frameworks or open source code, so each team could develop any concept they wanted. For the C-True Mirror team, their concept relied on a smart camera using lidar and an infrared module to detect physical changes in the patient. With custom computer vision and machine learning algorithms trained on millions of registered breast cancer cases, the C-True Mirror can also train users on self-screening exercises.
The C-True Mirror is a smart device that could help save millions of lives by providing early breast cancer detection based on physical changes. It relies on a smart camera, infrared module, lidar, computer vision and structured light analysis.
Aram Manukyan, Senior Mechanical Engineer, was quick to point out that the C-True Mirror’s applications can go beyond even breast cancer detection. “The IR and lidar capabilities of the smart camera means it could also detect skin cancer or irregularities in the skin, fevers, or any other medical issues that have physical symptoms, making it easily adaptable no matter what a company’s needs are.”
Looking Towards a Breast Cancer-Free Future
Moving forward from their big win at the ELC hackathon, the C-True Mirror team is prioritizing making their prototype real and finding collaborators who can help bring it to market. The team is also considering how they can continue to customize the user experience through complementary interfacing, like using some of the functionality of the Pink & Blue App.
“We can’t forget that people are at the center of our concept,” said Aliaksandr. “The Pink & Blue App can help us put patients on a journey where they’re supported by survivors and other support communities.”
The team behind the Pink & Blue App is particularly excited to find opportunities where breast cancer patients can use it as a complement to other products or tools, like the C-True Mirror, from diagnosis to recovery. “If we can partner with companies that make health tracker apps and integrate Pink & Blue into their solutions, that would be the icing on the cake for survivors—that would give them support in a structured, ongoing fashion,” said Regine.
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