Developers Win Over $100K in Connect Ability Challenge

Posted 8/7/2015 3:00:25 PM by STUART PARKERSON, Publisher Emeritus

Developers Win Over $100K in Connect Ability Challenge
AT&T and New York University’s ABILITY Lab, through the Connect Ability Challenge, have awarded over $100,000 in prizes to developers of high-tech solutions to improve the lives of people living with disabilities.  

The Connect Ability Challenge was a three month long technology challenge to spur innovation for people with physical, social, emotional and cognitive disabilities. In all, 63 software, wearable and other technology solutions were submitted by developers from 16 states and 15 countries. 

The $25,000 grand prize went to Kinesic Mouse, a software solution that uses a 3D camera to detect facial expressions and head rotations, allowing users to operate their personal computers hands-free. Kinesic Mouse was also awarded the “Best Mobility Solution” category, bringing their total cash winnings to $35,000.

The Connect Ability Challenge provided developers with the to interface directly with people with different disabilities who shared the challenges they face and helped guide the developers to find solutions. Developers were also encouraged to include people with disabilities in the design, development and testing of their entries.

A panel of experts from the engineering, technology and disability community judged the competition and awarded the $100,000 in prize money which was made available by AT&T and the Rehabilitation Engineering & Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA).

The winners were:

- Grand Prize ($25,000): Kinesic Mouse is software that allows users to control a PC completely hands-free, using a 3D camera that detects facial expressions and head rotations to control the PC, joystick or keyboard. 

- Best Solution for People with Sensory Disabilities ($10,000): Ava (Transcense) is a mobile solution that helps the people who have hearing disabilities by tracking conversations in the surrounding area and translating the sound into text for mobile and tablet use in real time. 

- Best Mobility Solution ($10,000): Kinesic Mouse is software that allows users to control a PC completely hands-free, using a 3D camera that detects facial expressions and head rotations to control the PC, joystick or keyboard. 

- Best Social/Emotional Solution ($10,000): LOLA is a digital tool that helps users train their brains, by using humor and personal challenges to strengthen their social and daily living skills.

- Best Solution for people with Communicative and Cognitive Disabilities ($10,000): Drumpants (Taps) is a wearable device that provides users with limited mobility or difficulty speaking with a voice. The user simply taps the soft wearable buttons that act as triggers for speaking customizable phrases through an application on their phone, which can also be used as a hands-free interface for controlling applications and surroundings.

- Best Solution Impacting Policy and Society ($10,000): Enlight uses iBeacon technology to allow people with vision disabilities to scan surrounding locations with their smartphone and be notified of the area, aiding with overall navigation challenges.

- Best Practices Collaboration Award ($5,000):  MySupport, a platform that offers people with disabilities tools to make their lives easier and more independent.

- Best Practices Caregiver  Award ($5,000):  InstaAid, is an app that allows people to call for help quickly regardless of limitations.

- Best Practices Universal Design Award ($5,000):   Braci, is a software and app solution that detects sounds and pushes notifications to users’ smart devices.

-  Large Organization Recognition Award (Non-Monetary): AccessiblePeakMeter is a plug-in that allows audio engineers with visual disabilities to access peak level meters using real-time sonification, and deliver information to support core activities in audio production.

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About the author: STUART PARKERSON, Publisher Emeritus

Stuart Parkerson has an extensive background in niche technology publishing.

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