Hackers brainstorm new technologies to help homeless

SEATTLE -- Tech experts joined non-profit groups this weekend for a unique competition called "Hack to End Homelessness."

Teams had just days to design better ways to serve people on the streets. Some focused on programs that track local trends in homelessness. One group designed a social network app that runs on cheaper phones. Everybody got feedback from the judges.

"It sounds corny, but the sex appeal factor actually does matter," said Mike Mathieu, who runs a tech incubator on Capitol Hill and served on the panel of judges.

Jeff Lilley and Graham Pruss built an app for outreach workers at Union Gospel Mission. It tracks the specific needs of people on the street, so outreach workers can load their delivery vans with items people really need.

"That manager...can know that tomorrow night that van's going out with size 38 pants and size 14 shoes," Lilley said.

While technological inventions are typically tied to financial reward, the goal for this group is to build something that matters.

No prizes were awarded during the event, but organizers at Impact Hub in Pioneer Square hope this type of collaboration continues so these inventions can be further developed.