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Fifth Annual RamHacks Event Held
September 27, 2018

The fifth annual RamHacks, held September 22-23 in Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Engineering’s East Hall, brought together 320 students from universities across the region for an adrenaline-fueled all-nighter of designing and coding.

Thirty-six hours later, 60 high-tech innovations — including a cane that detects obstacles for the visually impaired and a program that reads hand gestures so screens can be manipulated by users wearing gloves — were presented to a panel of industry judges.

According to information, the event concluded Sunday afternoon with judging by a multidisciplinary panel of experts for first, second and third place awards. Event sponsors also issued special challenges with additional prizes and gifts.

First place went to CaneSee, a cane-like device that assists the visually impaired by guiding the user through daily navigation. It vibrates when the user is nearing an obstacle and has a camera that can identify and describe objects through an app or hardware device. The inventors are George Mason University students Ammar Al-Kahfah, Ryan Hossain and Rahat Kamal.

The second-place winner was Rent and Safety, a web application that takes housing data provided by CoStar and uses machine learning and spatial data analytics to predict rental costs. The application also uses publicly available government data to map flooding and crime to create a heatmap. Rent and Safety was created by VCU Engineering students Syed Khaja Moinuddin, Adel Shahrezaei, Pratip Rana and Gregory Chang.

VCU students Brandon Simon, Tamara Pena, Adam Morrisette and Kevin Yang took third place with Handy Helper. Their program lets the user operate a computer without physically touching it — a must for workers who have to interact with computers while wearing protective gloves out in the field. Handy Helper also received an additional prize from RamHacks gold sponsor Newport News Shipbuilding.

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