If you read my blog yesterday, you’ll know that I was lucky enough to attend the last day of Microsoft’s Imagine Cup 2012 worldwide finals on Tuesday here in Sydney. And because I’m not ready to forget about it yet – and since everyone I speak to about it seems keen to hear more – I’ve picked two amazing teams to tell you about today. I know I can be a bit superficial, and both of these teams do have very cool names, but I assure you that their appeal is deeper than that – here are two brilliant ideas from Jordan and Korea.
When I walked past the Jordanian team’s booth and saw some pillows tossed on to an inflatable matress, I was confused. A dancing pillow? In a software design competition? But the team was made up of three good looking Jordanian chaps (with dimples), so I thought it was only fair to hear them out. Abdallah S pointed out that conventional home alarm systems (those used to detect burglars and fires, or even baby monitors or door bells) aren’t much use to deaf people. So the Dancing Pillowwas developed as an ‘electronic alerting device’ containing three sensors to detect smoke, motion and sound. When a sensor is activated, it sends a signal to the Dancing Pillow app on your Windows Phone and activates your chosen stimulus: flashing lights, the release of a perfume through one of those air freshener type things, or a vibrating device placed in your pillowcase (that’s the ‘dancing pillow’ function). When you’re not on your pillow, you can carry the small device in your pocket with the same functionality, alerting you to any issues in your home. Seems like such a simple idea, but it’s a goodie!
[Now that the competition is over, I think it’s safe to share my proposed add-on to capture an untapped market: I’m thinking of mothers everywhere when I suggest a blast from a fire hose, accompanied by the delicate aroma of frying chips, to rouse teenage boys from their deep slumber…]
Team TokTok from Korea won the crowd over with their marketing pitch – within seconds, I had been attacked by a giant peanut (at least, they said he was a peanut – check out the photo and see why I was at first reluctant to pose for a pic), given badges, bags of peanuts and a Korean flag. Following the ol’ principle of brand awareness first, actual product detail later, it wasn’t until I’d stowed away my goodies that I got to learn more about their idea. In a nutshell (sorry), Hapeanut is an app designed to help people grow peanuts – a ‘relief food’ that will help to support people around the world suffering from malnutrition and starvation. Participants in the Hapeanut virtual community are encouraged to keep a ‘peanut diary’ and they’ll receive tips and guidance on peanut cultivation as they progress. The team plans to help users grow peanuts and actually donate them to the people in need, providing ways for users to donate their peanuts to social welfare companies and NGOs.
Now, a confession. I was sucked in by Team TokTok’s clever gimmicks and when I got to the substance of their idea, I thought it was a little bit too wacky to be true. But then I did some research into the humble peanut and found out many amazing things that I never knew: it’s actually A LEGUME, not a nut, for starters. Oh yeah, and peanuts provide over 30 essential nutrients and phytonutrients. And they’re a good source of niacin, folate, fibre, magnesium, vitamin E, manganese and phosphorus. Uh huh. Naturally free of trans fats and sodium, they contain about 25% protein. And all that peanut-talk is from Wikipedia, so it must be true. So, Hapeanut is a great combo of making it fun to cultivate a valuable food source – and if they can realise their dream of actually supplying peanuts to the areas in greatest need of assistance, this team will definitely live up to its own hype!
Congratulations to these two teams for their fantastic ideas. I mentioned it yesterday, but I’ll say it again – I have run out of adjectives to describe the awesome-ness of this Imagine Cup competition and its competitors. Geeks are indeed good.
You can check out Hapeanut on Facebook here and the Dancing Pillow team are on Facebook here. You can read more about the incredible Imagine Cup here. And if this post has sparked your interest in peanuts – you’re not alone – all the info you could want is here.