"Lact-O-Log" App Introduces Innovative Method to Track Milk Lactation Using QR Codes

Winter Storm Jonas did little to deter the efforts of hundreds of student coders determined to "learn, build, hack." After relocating to the Wells Fargo Center during its Fall 2015 iteration, PennApps returned to the Penn Engineering campus for its 13th hackathon, held from Friday, January 22nd through Sunday, January 24.

During the weekend, the Engineering complex hosted groups of students from more than 130 universities with new ideas about how technology and innovation can be used to solve some our world’s biggest issues.

One of those groups was responsible for the development of "Lact-O-Log." The group of Penn Engineers, consisting of master’s students Vidur Bhatnagar (Robotics), Sneha Rajana (CIS) and Grishma Jena (CIS), proposed a web-based app that streamlines the process of nursing preemies.

The app has three modules: one for the lactating mother who uses the app to record details for every breast milk bottle filled, the nurse who is responsible for feeding the new-born and keeping track of the infant's milk consumption, and the administrator at the hospital who maintains the data. The system involves use of QR codes to manage the details of each milk bottle.

The idea was developed after the group met with two nurses from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), who discussed the sensitive method of nursing premature babies. Afterward, they visited the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to further understand the needs and requirements of this process.

"We were surprised to know that even in today's tech-savvy world, the entire process of managing and tracking the breast milk for feeding [premature babies] in the hospital was manual," the group said in a statement on their website. "This is our attempt at building a platform and trying to automate the process."

Discoveries from the meeting allowed the group to develop a user-friendly and responsive front-end interface and also create hardware resulting in a self-measuring app that would emulate the milk bottle.

"We understand that this a very emotionally trying experience for mothers," Rajana said during the PennApps XIII presentation. "[Ultimately], we want to have happy moms and strengthen the relationship between the mother, the baby and the hospital."

"Lact-O-Log" finished PennApps XIII with the second place prize and a goal to expand their innovative invention for large-scale use in hospitals around the world.

To learn more about "Lact-O-Log" or view their full PennApps XIII presentation, visit their hackathon page.