Mental health app Mindspace wins Teens in AI Brunei hackathon

10 teams from nine government schools and JIS develop implementable concepts to address mental health, unemployment and financial literacy

Mental health mobile application Mindspace won the first Teens in AI Brunei pilot hackathon and $1,000 yesterday with a pitch to provide customised, AI generated solutions including music suggestions and meditation to help individuals cope with stress.

Another mental health application Project Balmy took second and $750 with a concept to use AI to analyze journal entries to determine one’s mental health and make recommendations.

Budgeting application Little Banker won third and $500 for their proposal to help teens to monitor their allowance and spending within a gamified mobile format.

The top three teams were also awarded internships at Legimus and mentorship with founder and CEO of Teens in AI Elena Sinel. They were selected after making three minute presentations on their concepts that were assessed across several metrics including innovativeness, technical complexity, social impact and commercial viability.

Brunei is the first country in Southeast Asia to host Teens in AI, a developmental programme by London-based award winning social enterprise Acorn Aspirations.

The initiative is being facilitated in Brunei by Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) and implemented by local startup InTurn Co., with the Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI) and the Science Technology Environment Partnership (STEP) Centre at the Ministry of Education (MoE) serving as strategic and community partners respectively.

Pilot tackles mental health, unemployment and financial literacy

The 10 teams totaling 53 youth from nine government schools and Jerudong International School chose to address mental health, unemployment and financial literacy as issues the country currently faces that fall under the United National Sustainable Development Goals.

The participants underwent an eight day virtual hackathon which saw participants undergo design, coding and AI workshops to be able to develop their own tech-driven solutions.

The judging panel comprising of leading industry representatives encouraged the students to continue to develop their ideas and skills into fully-fledged solutions that could be used by the community.

Judge and Brunei Shell Petroleum (BSP) Digitalisation Manager and Technology Lead Sofiah Umar said the winning concept captures the complex issue of how to manage emotions by offering pragmatic solutions.

Mindspace team member Ammar Mohieldin said the mobile app encourages users to select broadly how they feel – sad, happy, angry or anxious – before asking them to label the intensity of their emotion on a scale of one to five.

“The AI then generates suggestions for users that will help manage their stress; be it journaling, meditation, music or their memory box (of positive experiences),” he said. “Over time as your profile collects more data, you will have your own ‘mind seed’ which monitors (and profiles) your overall mental state.

“We feel that being able to manage your emotions is important issue many face today; according to our survey of students, over 50% said they are unable to cope with (negative) emotions, and over 50% said they feel like sharing emotions makes them a burden to others.”

Teens in AI to continue in 2021 with two phases

Each team of five to six members received two teachers and up to three mentors for guidance and support. Co-founder of InTurn Chai Roslin said MOE assisted with profiling the students’ background into the categories of hacker, hustler, and hipster to ensure each team had the expertise to develop and market their solution.

“The hackers are the coders – students with IT backgrounds; hustlers are the project managers and hipsters are the designers. Collectively they cover the crucial elements for successful teamwork,” she said.

AI For Good is the first of three phases planned for the Teens in AI Brunei programme, and will be followed by a cross-school hackathon in the first quarter of 2021 targeting 500 students aged between 12 to 18 to develop 100 solutions.

The top 20 solutions will then be selected for the final hackathon where students will continue to develop their projects for a further two months.

Second Finance and Economy Minister and DARe Chairman YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah said Teens in AI aligns with the country’s aspirations of having a workforce and industry ecosystem that meets the demands of the fourth industrial revolution.

“By building a future-ready workforce, we can then begin to see more companies and organisations utilising AI and technology to advance humanity – creating apps, devices and other technology that help keep us safe and make our lives better,” he said.

The minister also highlighted the widespread adoption of the mobile application BruHealth as a leading example of AI which helped the country curb and manage the outbreak of COVID-19.

BruHealth, launched earlier in May, enables residents to update their health status which in turn generates a health code to enable access to public spaces. The application also tracks users’ movements using Bluetooth technology, providing the government with data to perform contact tracing should new cases be reported.

Teens in AI Brunei is sponsored by Brunei Shell Petroleum (platinum), Baiduri Bank and Brunei Shell Marketing (gold) and Dynamik Technologies.