CS PhD Students Know What’s Up

02-04-2016
Writer(s): Jesica E. Hollinger

Pranjal Daga and Suyash Gupta (CS PhD students) took top honors at Boston Hacks competition for their project WhatsUpDoc, during a hackathon held at Boston University.

More than 100 teams and 500 students spent 24 hours creating hacks to implement ideas and solve problems from scratch, in a fun an collaborative effort with their peers and corporate sponsors who attended the event.

Pranjal and Suyash met Evan DeSantola (Carnegie Mellon) and John Ward (NYU) when they got to the hackathon, then joined forces to create WhatsUpDoc. Their project helps individuals facing a health crisis without access to Smartphones or the Internet. 

Suyash said their project is used in conjunction with a landline telephone, since 85% of the world’s population has access to a telephone.

“WhatsUpDoc allows its users to call us (via any phone), and we try to solve their problems. The online call speech by users is converted to a text using the Microsoft Azure Speech recognition API,” Suyash said. “This text is then used to mine the Internet for relevant keywords, offering a quick remedy,” he added.

Pranjal said their motto is “a help in need is a help indeed”, turning their attention to the plight of those who need immediate answers to their health issues, especially refugees and migrant workers.

“Our device works in real time, because the user generally has very little time to stay on the phone,” Pranjal said. “The medical assistance comes back to the user in 150 words in approximately one minute,” he added.

Pranjal recently competed in Penn Aps at the University of Pennsylvania where he won Best Hack in Health Route for his creation of Data Doc. His app uses social networking, machine learning and gamification to reduce the morbidity and mortality of diabetes and related illnesses. The January snowstorm that recently hit the east coast unfortunately prevented Suyash from joining him in the competition.

Penn Apps is one of the largest hackathons in the world with more than 1500 students and 200 teams participating – even after the snowstorm. PennApps was the nation's first student-run college hackathon (launched in 2009) and has had a transformative impact on the way students develop and showcase their skills, leading to a hackathon revolution across the nation. Pranjal’s co-creators of DataDoc include Robin Onsay (undergraduate at Oakland University, Michigan), Evan DeSantola (Carnegie Mellon), and Tejaswi Agarwal (graduate student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison).