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Planmeca challenged hackers to reshape the future of dentistry

Blog post   •   Jan 12, 2018 10:29 UTC

On a dark and rainy November weekend a building in Espoo, Finland stood out from the darkness. Inside this brightly lit building some of the brightest young minds of technology were hacking away to create something new and inspiring. For 48 hours these minds we’re working together at Junction 2017 – Europe’s largest hackathon. The event gathered 1500 participants from around the world to take part in challenges set by the event’s company partners. Planmeca had the pleasure of being the Junction 2017 Health Technology Chief Partner.

The original idea of the event was born in a group of volunteer students about three years ago. They wanted to create something new and exciting – something that would help motivated people to find each other and forge ideas into new applications together. Today Junction is still a non-profit organization completely run by a group of volunteer students. The aim of the event is to bring together coders, designers and everyone else who could be building the future success stories. Junction has grown to be Europe’s biggest hackathon and an embodiment of the blooming startup ecosystem of the Nordics.

Last fall the event took place on 24-26th November at Aalto University’s main building Dipoli in Espoo, Finland. This was the third time the event took place and participants from over 70 countries around the world came together to create, innovate and hack. The participants had 48 hours to team up and work on their technology ideas.

The company partners of the event set the challenges which were divided into challenge tracks for the participants to apply for before the event. The final decision on what challenge they would work on, was made at the event. This was the last chance for the company partners to pitch their challenges to the participants and convince them that their task is the most interesting one to tackle.

Planmeca was one of the main partners of Junction 2017 and the Chief Partner of the Health Technology track. Fresh and radical ideas and continuous research and development are the keys to technological progress, and at Planmeca this is the rule people live and work by – this is also the reason Planmeca was at Junction.

Planmeca didn’t make it too easy for the participants as they were asked to ‘Reshape the future of dentistry’. There were two sides to the challenge: How to improve the patient experience and make it more effortless, and on the other hand, how to use virtual patient data so that dental care professionals could plan and prepare care better and more efficiently.

Planmeca’s challenge was the ambitious choice of 13 brave hacker teams. At the end of the event, after only a little to no sleep at all, the teams presented the results of their hard work to the Planmeca jury hoping to win the title of Planmeca Challenge Winner. The jury was truly impressed by the enthusiasm, competence and effort all the teams demonstrated while working on the challenge and their final demos.

“It was a tough choice! There were some really great ideas and demos, and we were truly astonished by the know-how and skills the participants showed during the event,” Sakari Kettunen, Planmeca’s Product Development Manager and member of the Planmeca Junction jury, describes.

The winning team was called AR Dentist and it consisted of Samuel Laska from Slovakia and Linda Ukkonen from Finland. Their solution was a creative mobile application which uses Planmeca’s 3D imaging data in real-time fitting it on a patient’s face according to changes made from a laptop.

“With this kind of mobile application doctors can communicate with patients in real-time, also remotely. It’s a great way to visualise procedures and their outcomes for example. We chose the winner based on the application’s great potential and technological execution,” Kettunen says.

Ukkonen and Laska were delighted to win the challenge and the title of Planmeca Challenge winner of Junction 2017.

“I graduated recently as an industrial designer and I’m really interested in 3D modeling and design, which is why I really wanted to take part in Planmeca’s challenge. I actually originally teamed up with other people at the beginning of the event, but they wanted to do another challenge, so we divided from that team. And it paid off”! Ukkonen says.

“I have a background in physics which later on merged into computer science. Now I work on mobile apps. I have taken part in quite a few hackathons. Junction was recommended to me by friends who had attended the previous year. And I’m glad I came, Planmeca’s challenge was fun to work on,” Laska explains.

Planmeca Junction challenge winners Linda Ukkonen and Samuel Laska.

Demonstration of the winnings solution created by Linda Ukkonen and Samuel Laska.

One the main Junction organisers at Planmeca, Digital Business Solution Manager Antti Haanpää, is happy with the event and excited by the ideas that were born as a result.

“Events like these are such a great chance to meet young, smart, ambitious people who want to create something new and unseen. We wanted the participants to embrace Planmeca’s mission to improve patient care through technology but throw away all limitations and think outside the box while doing that. We were looking for creativity, disruptiveness and feasibility and that’s exactly what we got,” Haanpää concludes.

Text by: Sanna Tolmunen
Photos by: Ossi Pietilälinen, Päivi Telenius, Roni Eteläaho
Video by: Roni Eteläaho

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