While T-Mobile continued on its task to blaze new trails as part of its “un-carrier” campaign, Verizon took a completely different approach to its press event at CES 2014 on Wednesday. America’s largest carrier launched a campaign to find powerful answers to “the world’s biggest challenges.” Verizon sought to gather ideas from developers and technologists around the world to see innovative new ways to improve sectors of education, sustainability, and healthcare.
To attract the talent, Verizon had $10 million in the till to give away to 15 companies that came up with the most impactful and dynamic solutions to confront the challenges facing societies today. First place in each category earned the winning company $1 million. Second place got $850,000; third $700,000; fourth $500,000 and fifth $285,000.
We got to talk with the winning companies following the press event. The solutions are impressive and have practical applications for established as well as developing markets. These are not new games set to take the world by storm, but amazing applications and products that stand to make a real and lasting impact on the world.
Check out our video summaries of each winning company for their respective category below:
Verizon Powerful Answer winners
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Verizon Powerful Answer winners
In the sustainability category, Mosaic, based in Northern California, created an investment platform that connects supporters to solar energy products in need of financing, but may be too small to interest banks or traditional sources of capital. Individuals can invest as little as $25. Terms average 10 years and the average annual rate of return is between 4 and 5 percent. In the year Mosaic has been available, it has funded over $5 million in projects, and dividend returns have a 100% on-time record with no defaults. The company will be using its award to develop a mobile application for its service this year.
TinyTap is an educational social platform that allows teachers and students to build their own apps and games that can be used by other students and teachers around the world. It can start by simply taking a picture, and building a quiz or game. This content can include several pages of information and include videos, text and is fully interactive. Developing countries and other school systems that adopt more technology like tablets can use TinyTap and even monetize some of the content to support the initiative. Based in Tel Aviv, Israel, TinyTap will be expanding its ecosystem into Android with its $1 million award.
Smart Vision Labs has perhaps the most impressive innovation for this first edition of “Powerful Answers.” The New York based company has developed a smartphone add-on that uses the camera to perform an on-the-spot diagnostic vision assessment. The device fits in your pocket, and using off-the-shelf parts, already has a sub-$700 per unit price point. The goal is to bring that price point below $100 and Smart Vision Labs will use its $1 million to achieve that goal and plans to deploy this tool in Rwanda first where a population of 14 million has only 14 people who can perform eye exams.