The breast pump hackathon cometh

Image of electric breast pump via <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-81516709/stock-photo-electric-breast-pump-for-breast-feeding.html?src=dKvJ6BvcAOth3mwZsVeONQ-1-2">Shutterstock</a>
Image of electric breast pump via Shutterstock

Necessity being the mother of invention, inventive mothers and others will gather at MIT’s Media Lab soon to (design and) build a better breast pump. The Breast Pump Hackathon happens September 20-21.

The organizers forego gauzy “motherhood is magical” language, stating their intentions in plain, engineer-friendly language:

We will bring together 60-80 engineers, designers, parents, public health researchers, and lactation consultants to bring innovation to maternal health and make the breast pump not suck….

The motor is loud. There are too many parts. They are hard to clean. You can’t lay down and pump. There is no good space to pump. It’s hard to keep track of what you pump. Your colleagues think pumping is weird. People are skeeved out by breastmilk. People are embarrassed by breasts.

It’s free to attend, but the organizers are limiting the total number of participants. They are offering the reservations in a way they hope will bring in a mix of people. The goal of that: have on hand enough different kinds of experience that no crucial aspect of the problem (the “hard to”, the “can’t”, the “no good space”, etc.) gets overlooked.

If you have good ideas to contribute, but can’t or don’t want to be at the hackathon, there’s a Hack The Breast Pump Facebook page where you can at least be part of the discussion.

Marc Abrahams is the editor of the Annals of Improbable Research magazine and organizer of the Ig Nobel Prizes.
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