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A unique technological initiative has been taken by the soldiers and graduates of the Israeli Air Force’s Ofek unit on behalf of children with autism. Dozens of the unit’s soldiers and alumni will take part in the first hackathon (technological marathon) in Israel dedicated to the improvement of the lives of children and adults with autism.

Ofek is the IAF’s advanced computer unit, an elite operational technological unit. Ofek focuses on the development and maintenance of vital software systems, including the ones installed at the IAF aircrafts. In addition, the unit develops systems designed for the control array as well as knowledge management, human resources, logistics, infrastructure systems and more, according to the IDF website.

Among Ofek’s developments, according to news reports, are IAF simulator software, a software that supplies information to the combat aircraft cockpit on real time, enabling the pilot to identify enemy targets and take quick decisions regarding attacks, making new weapon systems compatible to platforms including fighter aircraft, and more.

The hackathon is a unique collaboration between Ofek soldiers and graduates and ALUT, the Israeli Society for Autistic Children. Dozens of volunteers from Ofek and its graduates will participate at the hackathon, a 24-hour marathon of intensive development which is expected to yield technological solutions for the benefit of children and adults on the autistic spectrum, parents and caregivers. Among the examples, a game for practicing social situations, a digital interactive board visualizing daily schedule, an application for finding friends, and more.

The hackathon is the highlight of a project which included months of collaborative planning by Ofek’s graduates and parents, professional caregivers and ALUT’s staff members in order to chose the adequate ideas.

The developments are expected to help tackle daily challenges faced by professionals and parents in the complex care of children and adults with autism, such as:

  • Difficulties in understanding social situations and chosing the right responses
  • Difficulty to remember simple daily activities
  • Loneliness, difficulties to reflect emotions, and more.

The event will take place on July 27-28 at Playbuzz offices, and will include a presentation of the products developed during the night.

At a time when technology has become an integral part of the battlefield, there are powerful systems supporting any secret operation, intelligence gathering and even an Iron Dome interception. Ofek unit is the one behind these systems. “Our most important challenge is response to operational needs”, said Col. A, the unit’s commander, to the IAF Journal. “The characteristics of our environment limit our capability to foresee the future. We educate our soldiers that changes are constant, so that we will be able to supply rapid solutions during combat in accordance to urgent operational needs.”