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H.P. Wants You To Hack Autism


The firm's chief technology officer Phil McKinney unveiled the initiative Saturday at the Maker Faire in San Mateo, Calif. It's a science, tech, arts and crafts DIY fair that started in California in 2006.

Organizers estimate that 8,000-10,000 people attended the event this weekend.

McKinney, who has a daughter with autism, called it a "full-blown epidemic" in the United States, with one out of a hundred children currently being diagnosed with it, with the nation's highest cluster in Silicon Valley.

"It's going to be a loose organization and community made up of hackers, DIYers, technologists to figure out ways that we can bring technology to bear, to help people with autism to give them a voice," he said.

The hackathon will bring together experts on autism and families with members who suffer from it, as well as technologists, he said.

McKinney said that application programming has become so easy that virtually anyone these days can create an app -- all the better to widen the pool of people who can participate in this initiative.

Various families around the U.S. have found that touch-screen technology helps their autistic kids to better manage their lives because of its intuitive interface and its often visual nature.

For example, Apple's iTouch and iPad have been used by parents and teachers to help autistic kids to manage their schedules, according to the Star Ledger.

HP is coming out with its own tablet computer sometime this summer.