Mozilla Ignite Apps Challenge Idea Jam— an Internet 250x Faster Than Today?
Last week TechSoup hosted a Mozilla Ignite Apps Challenge Idea Jam. Thirty nonprofit and library professionals, social entrepreneurs and programmers joined eight TechSoup Global staff for our own Idea Jam, one of many taking place around the country, to "design and build apps for the faster, smarter internet of the future." TechSoup’s Online Community & Social Media Team Director Susan Tenby moderated, along with TechSoup Community Evangelist Marc Manashil and TechSoup Community-Driven Innovation Operations Manager Frank Babbitt. Online Community Team member Susan Chavez filed this report.
The challenge – apps for an internet 250x faster than today
Mozilla Ignite Apps Challenge is a public/private partnership between the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Science Foundation, ZeroDivide, Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI), WebFWD and the Mozilla Foundation. The goal of the challenge is to build community to create killer applications that harness the power of high speed, one-gigabit networks. (Standard broadband capacity generally allow for speeds no higher than 2-3 megabits.) The challenge is composed of four rounds; participants can submit up to 10 ideas.
Sectors / Teams / Ideas
Participants divided into six groups based on issues areas of interest: education, green energy, health care, and manufacturing. Despite only having about an hour to brainstorm, eight ideas were proposed. Challenge participants dreamed up ideas to create community for distance learners, improve health outcomes for patients in need of physical therapy, harness the power of dance, and more! The ideas were then evaluated and fine-tuned before the larger group for submission before the brainstorming round deadline.
Green Sector -- The It Ain't Easy Being Green team proposed the generation of energy by harnessing the power of large groups of people moving. Drawing on an existing idea to install coils on streets in metropolitan areas that generate energy when walked on, the team imagines these coils installed in in dance clubs performance spaces, or warehouses used for raves. Users could rack-up points to offset their carbon footprint by using an app that would track how much energy they generate when they create their own ‘dance footprints’ on the energy generating coils!
Health Sector -- The Health Hotties team developed two different ideas, one centered on medical diagnostics and the other on rehabilitation. The first idea would help underserved groups cut-off from medical services because of income, geography, the nature of their illness, etc. Patients would be able to connect with medical professionals and then be directed to proper services. The same technology could also be used in disaster situations to quickly provide medical care. The second idea would help people who require physical therapy. Using motion capture technology, patients could go through a range of therapeutic exercises at home with remote help from a therapist. The technology could save patients time, money (and pain!) by not requiring them to travel. Patients could also find the physical therapist right for them by making it possible to connect with those who share their language and culture.
Manufacturing Sector – The Manufacturing Team would take advantage of changes in technology to address the problem of replacing costly components. For example, manufacturers of plastic and metal depend on accurate 3-D models that can take a lot of time to produce. The team’s idea is to develop software that would create 3-D models out of 2-D images which can then be collected in an online library easily accessed for production.
Education Sector -- Team Awesome identified problems confronting online learning, and their proposed application would allow for real time online classroom interaction. In order to make online learning more social, the team imagined an application that would function in a manner similar to Google+ hangouts. The app would allow a person to see their fellow students and the professor. Whenever someone spoke their name, an avatar would light-up to make the identification of speakers easy.
Team Career Discovery’s app would help youth explore possible career paths, identify skills required for that career, and connect to professionals in their desired field. Many schools are faced with a shortage of guidance counselors and the Career Discovery App can help fill this gap by connecting students directly to career professionals. Students can learn what their careers are really like and what education is required to succeed. The app, which can be supported by libraries, can also connect students interested in the same field with each other and also serves professionals by giving them a means to give back to the community despite limits on their time. Game elements can be incorporated into the app giving students the opportunity to compete for scholarships.
The final Education Sector team was interested in a solution to address the problems students face in large, dispersed school districts which require long bus rides to school. The team imagined a shorter commute made possible by gatherings in regional ‘hub’ classrooms for online learning. Online learning could also be enhanced by the use of virtual reality as a skill-building tool (e.g., how to pitch a baseball).
Submit your own idea by September 20
The first phase of the competition, the brainstorming round, ends on August 23. Even if you haven’t participated in a local Idea Jam, you’re welcome to submit your idea to the challenge. Up to $15,000 in awards is available for the brainstorming round. Proposals can also be submitted in the next phase, the Development Round by September 20. In total, $500,000 will be awarded towards funding to make submitted ideas into real-world applications. Complete rules and submission instructions are available on the Mozilla Ignite Apps Challenge website.