Every boy in Eton has been tasked with designing, organising or participating in a Community Engagement project this half. The Press Office sent Thomas Hilditch to interview Max Krefting and hear more about his incredible project All-In, which was developed in collaboration with three international students who were all taking part in an AI hackathon.

What is an Al hackathon?

An AI hackathon is an event where people come together to solve real-world problems using artificial intelligence (AI). The hackathon I took part in was an online hackathon for students all around the world, with the aim of developing AI solutions to the most pressing healthcare and societal challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

What was the inspiration for your project?

As a team, we knew that COVID-19 and online learning had a huge impact on our education. We sent out a survey to teachers, students and parents in order to hear from them what they perceived as the main problem in online education. From the responses, a clear theme emerged: internet connection issues during live online lessons. We understood that many students like us are affected by unstable Wi-Fi, leading us to miss out on vital parts of the lesson. This came out to be a major factor of focus, motivation and learning. We wanted to change this.

What is your project and what is its purpose?

We created All-In. It allows for online learning to flow without any disturbances and prevents students lacking reliable high quality Wi-Fi from being disadvantaged. It does this by showing a student the live audio transcript of the lesson through subtitles when their Wi-Fi is temporarily low. Since the audio transcript text stream is far smaller in size, it can be sent across the internet in circumstances when video and audio might not – when Wi-Fi is low. Our aim is to make undisturbed online education accessible to everyone. How have you developed the software for this project ?

We are currently making a stand-alone web app using the programming language python and the framework flask. The web app will act as a minimum viable product, and will demonstrate the concept of All-In. We imagine All-In to act as an add-on to popular video streaming platforms such as Zoom, and so we plan to collaborate with these service providers in the future.

How does this project benefit others?

All-In allows students with unstable Wi-Fi to access online lessons without any disturbances, either through live video and audio, or just subtitles when they have temporary low Wi-Fi. Moreover, All-In prevents students with a lack of high quality Wi-Fi from being disadvantaged.

What steps are you taking to ensure safeguarding is maintained digitally?

All-In only sends the audio transcript of live lessons across the internet, since the speech recognition can be done on the user’s computer. The text of a student or teacher’s speech poses far less security risks than normal video and audio streaming. We are confident that we can maintain the safety of our users.

What opportunities are there for students to get involved in such projects?

TeensInAI organises AI hackathons for students throughout the year. Hackathons are a great opportunity for students to develop not only their technical skills but also their entrepreneurial skills, since understanding the business of ideas and pitching ideas to judges are a vital part in a team’s success. They are open to anyone with an interest, so go and sign up!

You can watch Max’s team video pitch here.

UPDATE from Max Krefting PGW

Since the publication of this article, our team won the hackathon with our project All-In. Our plan now, with the help of mentors and professional web developers, is to develop our prototype into a fully functioning web and mobile app. We will continuously test All-In with teachers to make sure that we are creating a solution that fits their needs. Our marketing strategy is to start close to home. We hope that once we have built our reputation, we can expand All-In.

We see All-In’s biggest potential in remote areas, where wi-fi quality may be lower and with huge bandwidth fluctuations. We are looking forward to continuing our journey in developing All-In, and we hope that we can reach our goal: to make undisturbed online education accessible for everyone.