MIT Hackathon

COVID-19 Challenge

Elder Wand

Since seniors in residential homes can’t be visited anymore due to the pandemic, Elder Wand is the platform for elderly or just lonely people to use and connect. This solution combats loneliness by creating real connections virtually.

Virtual events



The hackathon was organised by MIT and together sponsors, mentors, and participating teams tried to find a solution for life after the pandemic. These were then divided into 8 sub topics which applicants had to choose prior to joining. During the two days, over 2,000 international hackers joined the challenge to combat and prevent a future crisis. Once you chose a subject you want to design a solution for, it is up to you, to find your group. It was important to team up together with participants, you wanted to collaborate with during the next 3 days.


During a global crisis, it is not easy to brainstorm, organize and execute your team's idea over a slack channel. My team was spread over 3 continents with 5 different time zones. All-nighters and coffee were my best friend.


Each team has 5 minutes time to present their solution based on the project they chose.
Give your best, you only have one shot!

An issue in society

COVID-19 disrupts physical visits, and we will be in this new normal indefinitely.

50 million elderly in the US
The elderly’s health is impacted by loneliness
Higher health care costs for elderly with mental health issues

Local chapter lead

The process of becoming an Elder Wand member


In order to implement this solution, it is necessary that both high-school volunteers and local aging communities or residential homes are willing to make a difference.


This phase includes the profile creation. Seniors and volunteers will have to customize their profiles in order to enter the platform. It was important to ensure the customer a safe and legit place to communicate.


Based on availability, language, preferences and interests a match will be found for each user. The more details a user can provide, the easier it can be to find a match. Also, this is a great chance to start off a conversation, seeing all the interests both parties have.


Once the platform found a suitable match, users can start their conversations by phone or video chat.

Shaping the future

A worldwide problem we identified is that seniors living in residential or single homes are often very lonely. Due to COVID-19 they are also not allowed any visitors. Therefore, our team developed a platform, where the elderly can connect virtually to communicate and combat their loneliness. Our solution would provide virtual events and chat rooms where young and old can exchange experiences and stories with each other. ‘Elder Wand’ is a website that gives seniors the opportunity to share and listen, without jeopardizing their health.

Key partners

Our key partners would include residential homes, schools and colleges. This way the business can recruit members from partnering facilites.

Value proposition

There is a distinct value this platform offers in comparison to competitor networking sites. By giving elders the opportunity to talk to someone and combat their loneliness, students can fulfill their volunteer hours in a meaningful way.

Customer segmentation

These are primarily senior citizens in residential homes and students.

How it works

The homepage

Important here is that both age groups can navigate easily through the website.

Introducing Elder Wand

Our team focused on the importance of making the older generation feel safer and more comfortable while using this platform, because of many scams. Especially, this group if often targeted and with time, this has become harder for seniors to identify. Describing who and what Elder Wand does, is the key for this this solution to function. 

The event board is based on the most common activities, both young and old are likely to enjoy. A growing customer base will adjust the portfolio accordingly. 

A calendar is a simple way of displaying information. Particularly, because it is commonly used by the elders. Therefore, it suits their needs to comfortably edit their digital events.

A face to the networking channel.

Become a member

The sign-up process is a crucial step to a clean, simple and most importantly straight forward design. For this reason, the information displayed is what seniors can easily remember.

Customer review

The Terraces at Los Altos

Staff member

“This is a great idea since we do not allow guest visits, including family members.”

After a survey of 3 residential homes in California, all three of them expressed interest in implementing such an initiative in their facilities.


1st prize in MIT COVID-19 Challenge

With two team members, we pitched Elder Wand to a crowd and panel of 8 judges, 2000 participants and received the 1st prize and $500 in prize money in the Track B: „Well-being: Adapting to a new normal“. 

I must say, I am very passionate about this topic and also needed motivation to overcome my own concerns about life after this crisis. I quickly realized that this was a project I felt passioned about and I could actually be part of a solution, which would have a serious impact on society.

The Elder Wand Team

Our creative team

Skills incorperated

I really want to emphasize on the soft skills, which were required when working with such a diverse group of young people. I wanted to stay diplomatic and adaptable to the situation and thereby be ready to motivate when needed. Furthermore, it was important to embrace my creativity and not being afraid to be wrong, since that it a valuable lesson I learned at hackathons.

Explore other case studies

June 2020 - Lyft

The goal for this project was to improve the overall rider experience by letting the passenger adjust their ride preferences in the app settings. This offers a smoother riding journey, as well as more comforability with strangers. The driver will be informed prior to arrival if e.g. the passenger would like to have a chat, listen to the radio, and much more…

January 2020 - Shazam

A clickable prototype, that will simplify the process for music lovers. Combining two popular apps in one, allows users to shazam music in their Instagram feed.

December 2020 - Test Valley Council

This project concentrates on a British council website, which is in the process of being re-designed. In order to make appropriate changes, a usability test was conducted, and suggestions were made based on current issues, which affect the user experience.