Derek and I just got back from a hectic weekend spent in the company of the lovely Rewired State people at the Guardian offices in London. We were one of a select bunch of developers invited to spend the weekend hacking together apps for the DotGovLabs UK government innovation hub (closed beta, but ping us for an invite).
We took on the challenge of developing an app to support healthy living, and spent the weekend putting together Playtter – a social food diary app for improving the quality of the users’ diets.
Playtter allows users to upload pictures of food using their mobile phone camera, and then visit the website to get feedback on the quality of their nutritional intake. Web users are free to access Playtter and “tag” random meals with nutritional information, following the UK “Eatwell” healthy diet guidelines.
Nutrition data for meals is generated based on aggregation of social opinion, and Playtter can then build up a profile of a user’s typical diet over the course of their usage. Using this longer term data, it is able to provide personalised recommendations to users based on their actual diet, without the intervention of 3rd party dieticians. This opens dietary feedback to the general population, who may be at high risk of diabetes and other negative health effects based on their diet.
If you are a member of the DotGovLabs innovation hub, please visit the project page and give us comments and thumbs-up! We are very excited about the possible future of Playttr but that future won’t happen without support.
Unfortunately Playtter didn’t win any prizes on the weekend. We were beaten to the healthy living prize by the Pedalmania project, which aims to support the health of Londoners (who overdo the eels and shandy?) by getting them to redistribute “Boris Bikes” . Some other great projects included hack weekender tool RapidHackr, smoking advice calculator “Smoking is Cool” and the grand prize winner “Social Media Lite” which uses the O2 Joggler to feed Facebook images into a digital photo frame (although the presumption that all older people are luddites is more than a little un-PC!).
Derek and I were particularly impressed by the quality of the apps created by some of the younger attendees – although they were a bit segregated (“the devs” vs. “the kids”). I’m trying not to sound too patronising but their work was amongst the best there (and justly rewarded), with better ideas, better scope and better implementations than pretty much all of the professional developers.
In particular we really liked the work of Josh Pickett, who seemed to be the common member in a bunch of cool projects: Community social micro-task site FixThis, RapidHackr and our favourite, “How Healthy Is…”, a website that compares Foursquare checkins to sports centres and fast food joints, and compares that with the official government stats on healthy living for that area. Really nice, simple, well executed idea, that doesn’t seem to be online yet!
Also see the delightful “ComputerText” project from the hackers in the noisy corner. This app helps encourage people to get online by using a familiar TV-style interface to translate the web: TELETEXT! You can even type 123 to see the lottery results. Barmy but excellent, winning a special “Kudos” prize from the judges.
also, remember to please visit the project page and give us comments and thumbs-up!