On April 28, the Vodafone Americas Foundation announced the eight Wireless Innovation Project finalists competing to win a total of $600,000 in grants for cutting-edge mobile innovations tackling a range of critical global issues, including health, sanitation, disaster response and access to communication.
The 2015 finalists are:
- Caltech Sanitation Project – Over 4.5 billion people across the world lack access to adequate sanitation facilities. So far, implementation of new sanitation technology has often been riddled with unsuccessful maintenance of the systems. Caltech’s mobile-based self-diagnosing technology for wastewater treatment systems (outside of conventional sewers) empower local community members to operate and maintain these sustaining sanitation solutions.
- Hemolix – Prenatal conditions are the fourth leading cause of death in developing nations, and hypertensive disorders like preeclampsia often lead to life-threatening complications, such as the HELLP syndrome, capable of killing mother and baby in just several hours. University of South Florida’s Hemolix offers a new low-cost, mobile-phone based platform for timely diagnosis of the HELLP syndrome, providing enough time to save their lives.
- Coconut Surveillance – The World Health Organization estimates that 3.3 billion people are at risk of infection with malaria, but it is preventable, curable, and can be eliminated with rapid intervention. RTI International’s Coconut Surveillance is a case surveillance and rapid response system with risk-mapping platform that uses Google Earth Engine to target responses and alert high-risk communities in real time.
- Disaster Response Communications System – In November 2013, typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines knocked out cell towers and cut off electricity, resulting in total communications shutdown. According to USAID, 6.9 million people were impacted by the storm. De Novo Group’s Disaster Response Communications Systems is an “infrastructure-less” system that leverages smartphones of disaster victims and responders to form a peer-to-peer network for supporting efficient routing of needed supplies and information for areas hit the hardest.
- Mobile Stethoscope Diagnostics – One of the basic needs in medicine to diagnose disease is to listen to the sounds of the body. A team from MIT has developed a mobile stethoscope and decision-support mobile application to provide critical diagnostic assistance to untrained health workers in developing countries.
- 3WDroid – While mobile phone adoption in Asia and Africa continues to grow, many of the devices available are voice and text-only while data services remain prohibitively expensive. A team from Santa Clara University is leveraging recycled Android devices to create a Wi-Fi mesh network to offer entrepreneurs a way to provide affordable Internet and high speed Intranet to local populations.
- CameraVitals – Vital signs such as heart rate, breathing rate, and heart rate variability form the foundation of health monitoring, but are contact-based, resulting in high costs, potential for pathogen transfer and challenge in neonatal monitoring. A team from Rice University is introducing a smartphone-based, non-contact vital signs monitor that creates new opportunities for health workers in low-resourced areas.
- WellDone Mobile Monitor (MoMo) – Although more than 2.3 billion people have gained access to clean water since 1990, up to 40% of rural water infrastructure has since fallen into disrepair. WellDone International has developed a remote monitoring technology that aims to improve the reliability of rural infrastructure by providing real-time usage and functionality information.
Winners will be announced during the Social Innovation Summit 2015 held at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., June 10–11.