Four Canadians were singled out as winners in Cisco’s inaugural global IoT World Forum Young Innovation Grand Challenge, which looked for girls aged 13-18 to come up with new Internet of Things (IoT) “solutions and technologies” to help connect everyday devices and objects.
The challenge aimed specifically at addressing challenges in seven main industries: education, healthcare, manufacturing, energy, retail, transportation, and smart cities, though suggestions in other industries were accepted as well.
Two of the four runner-up winning IoT inventions were from Canadian girls, and one of the five third-place winners hailed from north of the border as well.
The first-place winning idea hailed fromU.S.-based Emily Y. and Alice Y. They came up with an IoT-based global container management system for the transportation industry that would help reduce theft, and alert customers if a shipment had been tampered with, or compromised in some way. They received $20,000.
The Canadian Girls
Richmond, BC-based Cynthia Z. won $10,000 for her second-place idea of an Interactive Shower in the Environmental category. It consists of a thermostat attached to a shower pipe and valve to notify the user when the water reaches the right temperature, and manage the flow through a smart device application. The idea is to help conserve water as well as save on hydro bills.
In the Education category, Kathy H. And Ananya N. from Mississauga, ON also took home $10,000 for The Book of Everything. As the name implies, it’s a smart device that combines both electronics and synthetic paper, and all of the materials a student would need to get his schoolwork done, including digital textbooks, literature, and notepaper.
Awarded $5,000 was Amy Q., also from Mississauga, for her healthcare technology for Arthritis Prevention Through MotionDetection. It consists of injected sensors that help cure arthritis in joints, and allows for constant monitoring to help avoid joint lining degeneration.
More About the Challenge
The cash prizes are to be used to invest in furthering education, or more specifically, developing the aforementioned innovative ideas.
The Challenge kicked off at the IoT World Forum in Chicago, and more than 1,500 girls entered from 171 countries. While the majority of the winners were from the U.S., an entry from South Korea and one from Egypt also snagged third-place finishes. Winners were selected by a panel of judges that included both those from Cisco as well as industry leaders that focus on women in IoT, venture capital, universities, and learning centres with an emphasis on STEM.
Cisco’s Vice President of Products and Solutions Marketing, Inbar Lasser-Raab, said the company was “thrilled to see the passion, innovation and professionalism of all participants in the challenge.”
Encouraging Girls in STEM
There was a greater purpose with this Challenge beyond just the monetary prizing.
“We hoped,” adds Raab, “that the great excitement and opportunity around the Internet of Things will appeal to young women and attract them to get involved in STEM fields.”
It’s no surprise that there’s a major need for workers skilled in STEM fields, particularly to help facilitate the growth in IoT. Cisco reports that there are 26 million STEM jobs in the U.S. alone, comprising 20% of all U.S. jobs. Last year, research firm Gartner predicted that we’d see 25 billion connected “things” in use by 2020, representing a service spend of US$263 billion. It’s critical that both men and women actively participate in helping make these devices work seamlessly together, and address both consumer and business needs. And, as evidenced by these innovations, future IoT technologies can have a meaningful impact on real world problems across many areas.
Kathy H. And Ananya N. From Mississauga, ON were two of three Canadian girls who took home a second place prize in Cisco’s Young Innovation Grand Challenge for their IoT invention called The Book of Everything– a smart device that combines electronics and synthetic paper, and houses all of the materials a student would need to complete his work, from textbooks to notepaper.