Autism Hackathon Recap: Building For A Future of Clear Communication

Autism Hackathon

A few weeks ago, the Autism Hackathon sent a message: Autism doesn’t limit anyone’s ability to communicate. “The only limitation is our imagination,” says Josh Carter organizer of the hackathon and Twilio Senior Support Engineer.

Josh worked with Autism Speaks to explore how hackers can use technology to empower and prepare autistic people for real-life communication on their own.

Developers, designers, entrepreneurs and novice hackers came out to Twilio HQ to build tools that will help autistic people understand how to effectively communicate and interact with others on their own.

VIP Virtualizes Real-Life Communications


A team of engineers, John Fairchild, Lois Jean Brady, Doug Goldie, and Gary Bryan, built the winning hack named VIP (Virtual Interaction Practice), taking home prizes from Leap Motion. Twilio donated $1,000 in their name to Autism Speaks.

VIP virtualizes real-life environments like job interviews and social conversations so people on the autism spectrum can practice their communication skills. VIP uses XBox Kinect to measure the users body language, eye contact, and how well they listen to directions.

Other Hacks

  • MyMonitorGlasswear helps break down the keys to social interactions by monitoring a user’s eye contact, speech pattern and speech volume via Google Glass. Users can review the data to see how they can communicate more clearly.

  • MindFlower, built by health-hacker K Thomas Picard and Melanie Swan, is a marketplace where employers can hire adults/adolescents on the autism spectrum to complete detail-oriented tasks in manageable parts.

  • Audeo helps people on the autism spectrum learn about emotional context within a conversation through visual cues. Audeo displays images related to the conversation and reading material to help the user understand what emotions they should be aware of and their context in the conversation.

We were amazed by the creativity and effort each team showed in their hacks. Autism Speaks hopes to bundle each team’s creation into an all-in-one app that autistic people can use to navigate through any situation.

Read about Josh’s personal connection to autism in his blog post here, and learn what you can do to help understand autism by visiting Autism Speaks here. Take a look at CNet’s coverage of the event here

  • Rodrigue Jm Tusse

    I have am autistic little brother and seeing that many ways technology can help him towards just gives me so so much joy ! I wish I was able to participate, and Kudo to all the participants !

  • Chuck Van Court

    Great to see Twilio take things on that are less about money and more about doing good. Thanks and nice work!

    • Twilio

      Thanks for the feedback Chuck!