Reverse Hackathon 1st Place Winner: Spell Check for Your Emotions

We had an amazing time this past weekend at Hack Mental Health’s Reverse Hackathon. We started the day without a team and without an idea. Thanks to the extremely open, encouraging and supportive environment, we were able to end the day with the winning idea!

Presenting Emotion-Ally, a plug-in that helps you be more emotionally conscious in your digital communications.

The Process

After spinning through ideas for better relationship building, improved time management, and customizable news feeds, we began discussing the problem of miscommunications in our digital world. We were immediately drawn to this issue because of its relatability. We had all received emails or messages that were worded in a way that produced unnecessary stress and we all felt we were guilty of occasionally sending messages that, to put it gently, could have been more strategically worded.

The idea struck with a simple analogy: Grammarly for emotions. For those of you who haven’t used Grammarly, it’s kind of like the spelling/grammar check that’s built into most software, but it’s cloud based, allowing it to work across platforms. Grammarly also takes the angle of trying to enhance your writing, not just correcting it.

So, we asked ourselves…

How might we minimize unintentionally negative digital communications and encourage emotionally intelligent communication?

Introducing Emotion-ally

How does it work?

Step 1
You receive an email from her colleague, Michelle. Michelle is late sending her you a deliverable.

Step 2
You are annoyed and write an emotionally-charged reply, but before sending, you notice the Emotion-ally plugin has highlighted two opportunities to improve your emotional communication.

Step 3
You click the Emotion-ally button in the bottom right corner of your screen and emojis pop up that help you understand the emotions your email might bring up.

Step 4
You hover over the underlined sentence. The plugin suggests an alternative sentence and tells you why it’s suggesting a replacement.

You can expand the message and get more detailed information that may help you avoid the same mistake in the future.

Step 5
You also receive weekly or monthly insight reports that helps you keep tabs on tone sensitivity in your digital communications!

Why is this important?

Digital communication is often rushed and we don’t get the benefit of context, tone of voice, and body language. There’s much more ambiguity in the way we communicate digitally and, at the same time, a lot less accountability. A study published in the Journal of Personality & Social Psychology found that email recipients only properly identified the tone (serious vs. sarcastic) 56% of the time. Miscommunications can cause a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety as well as decreased productivity and an unwillingness to collaborate.

Who would use it?

There is also strong research to suggest that people with high emotional intelligence are more successful in the workplace, leading us to believe that this type of plugin could be very desirable for companies to encourage their employees to use. Emotion-ally could offer particular utility for global companies that have to deal with communications between employees with very different cultural backgrounds.

We believe that Emotion-ally could impact how people interact in social media platforms, email, and text messages. It also has potential applications for health professionals working with individuals who suffer from developmental disorders and mental health disorders to better regulate and respond to emotion.

The Potential

Next Steps

The Team

Manpreet Kaur @ UCSF

Prabhav Jain @ CCA

Kritika Kushwaha @ CCA

We were thrilled to win both the audience choice award and first place this past weekend. We are passionate about this nascent idea and hope we can bring it to life. Please reach out if you have any ideas or skills you would like to share with us.

Special thanks to all the organizers, judges, and volunteers who made the event such a great success!


The intersection of technology and mental health.

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