Hackanooga: There are new apps for that

photo Will Barkis, project manager for the Mozilla Ignite Challenge, addresses participants at "Hackanooga," a 48-hour marathon computer programming weekend, on Sunday at the Church on Main. Participants were challenged to take advantage of Chattanooga's gigabit-per-second Internet speed and create computer applications to pitch to companies like Mozilla and U.S. Ignite, among others. The Mozilla Ignite Challenge is a partnership with the National Science Foundation and is an open-innovation challenge to create apps with a public benefit.

TO LEARN MOREFor more information on the Mozilla Ignite Challenge, visit https://mozillaignite.org/.

What if a phone app could monitor when you get hurt, call emergency services and provide your entire medical history?

That's just one of the programs shown off Sunday as part of "Hackanooga" -- a programming weekend where developers were challenged to create computer applications using Chattanooga's gigabit-per-second Internet speed.

Over 48 hours, developers used Chattanooga's blazing Internet speed to create programs that could be the future for medical modeling, video chat and government and community interaction.

"It was a Red Bull-and-coffee-fueled extravaganza," said Ben Moskowitz, program officer for Mozilla, a nonprofit, open-source Web development organization. Mozilla helped organize the program along with US Ignite, another developer of ultrafast networks and applications.

Hackanooga was sponsored by EPB, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, the National Science Foundation, CO.LAB, Lamp Post Group and Easy Designs.

"[We're] making use of the infrastructure which is leading the nation," Moskowitz said. "There's something about the way things get done here -- it's truly collaborative."

Chattanooga's high-speed Internet makes it a great place to host an event like this, said Will Barkis, project manager for Mozilla Ignite.

"Chattanooga is certainly pushing the bounds," Barkis said. "If you want to build apps for the future, this is the place to do it."

Amr Ali, a Boston developer, helped create Trip Notify, a remote medical monitoring program, along with Dmitri Boulanov, of Cambridge, Mass., and Reggie Watts and Blas Westmoreland, freshmen from Chattanooga's STEM high school.

Ali and Boulanov attended Hackanooga not only to take advantage of the two full days of collaborative programming to work on their idea, but also to use the city's world-class Internet speeds.

"This is the fastest Internet I've ever experienced," Ali said.

Groups presented their applications Sunday to their fellow developers. For many, the weekend provided a great start to program development, but it showed many of the programs still have a long way to go.

"We're looking at 3-D video conferencing, but we hit a few snags," said Forrest Pruitt, a student at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, who was working with a group to manipulate the technology used by Xbox's Kinect sensor. "We're using technology in a way it's not meant to be used."

Still, groups were excited about the progress made during "Hackanooga." And the event served as a launch pad for many to apply to Mozilla Ignites -- a challenge hosted by Mozilla and the National Science Foundation to build applications for the high-speed Internet access that also have an influence on the community, Barkis said.

Teams will be given the opportunity to win money to help fund the development of their applications over the course of six months.

"It's not just to create some cool apps or cool prototypes," Barkis said. "The goal is to create a community of practice and to build something that has an impact."

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