Apps that make life easier for people with dementia, turn sign language into text and help protect endangered birds were the winning ideas in an international tech competition supported by HSBC.

Held virtually because of the pandemic, the two-day Technovation World Summit was the culmination of the annual Girls and Families programmes run by global non-profit education organisation Technovation (opens in new window) (opens in new window).

Teams made up of girls aged 10 to 18 and families from more than 60 countries developed almost 2,000 mobile apps and artificial intelligence (AI) prototypes to solve issues in their communities.

The bank has supported the Technovation Girls programme since January, helping expand its reach. HSBC employees also volunteered their skills as mentors and judges.

Coding during lockdown (duration 1:24) As part of HSBC’s Anyone Can Code initiative, two employees on the bank’s Technology Graduate Programme taught children how to code and build apps during the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown

Alison Coates, Head of HSBC’s Future Skills programme, said: “We are thrilled to partner with Technovation to strengthen local communities and help girls and women develop vital skills needed to be leaders in an increasingly tech-centric future.

“Technovation creates significant and lasting change through providing opportunities to practise real-world problem-solving – helping people gain innovation, decision-making and collaboration experience.”

The winners will each receive a share of the USD30,000 prize to spend on furthering their education in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects or to help turn their ideas into commercial products.

Women make up only 26 per cent of the STEM workforce in developed countries, according to the World Economic Forum. In developing countries the figure is even lower. Technovation and HSBC are working to address this imbalance.

The bank’s support for the organisation is part of its Future Skills programme to help 1 million people in the communities it serves develop the right employability skills for the global economy.

The winners

  • Memory Haven: A team of girls in Ireland created an app for people with dementia and their carers. It incorporates features such as: face and voice recognition; health checks; and music, which has been shown to comfort people with dementia
  • Zesha: A team in India designed a digital caregiver to help Alzheimer’s patients and the people looking after them. It answers a patient’s commonly-repeated questions and tracks users with GPS. It also has daily checklists, quick-dial emergency numbers, and links to entertainment sites to relieve boredom
  • Help2Hear: An automated sign language interpreter for people with hearing difficulties developed by a team in Kazakhstan. A camera records the signs; AI turns the movements into text
  • Kuwait Bird Tracker: Developed by a team in Kuwait, the app encourages people to help protect local endangered birds. Users can take pictures of birds on their phones, then AI identifies the species and suggests tips for helping keep the birds safe