Imagine a cellphone charger the size of a credit card that fits in a wallet. Or an inexpensive test that would allow millions of pregnant women and people with blood disorders to screen for anemia.
Maybe life would be easier with automated robotic dog toys so canines can entertain themselves.
One — or all — of these could become the next big company in Georgia. For now these inventions are among the six finalists for the InVenture Prize, an annual Georgia Tech contest that rewards undergraduate students for innovation and creativity.
“We want students to be inspired to pursue their own ideas, tackle problems and ideally create jobs in Georgia,” said Craig Forest, an assistant professor in the school of mechanical engineering who helped develop the competition.
The event will be televised Wednesday at 7 p.m. on Georgia Public Broadcasting, with winners announced at the end.
The contest, which began in 2009, is not some glorified science fair. Some past victors grew into companies with customers around the world.
Patrick Whaley won the competition in 2010 for weighted exercise clothing people can wear without any limitations on movement or damage to their joints.
He turned his invention into Titin Tech, an Alpharetta-based company with six employees. Players in the NFL and NBA and clients around the world wear his weighted compression gear.
“I love the prize, but I didn’t receive as much support from (the university) to start my business as I would have liked,” Whaley said. “I don’t harbor any hard feelings, and I still think this is something everyone at Tech should try out for.”
The program has evolved since Whaley won, said Ray Vito, a co-founder of the contest. Winners are now offered a spot in Flashpoint, a Tech program that helps startups develop a business and pursue commercialization, said Vito, a professor emeritus in the school of mechanical engineering.
First-place comes with a $20,000 prize, while the second-place finisher gets $10,000 and the audience favorite gets $5,000. Tech will also file a patent for first- and second-place finishers.
Judges will consider a variety of factors such as innovation, marketability and probability of success. This year’s finalists have consumer potential.
Sam Elia and Grant Heffley were tired of their cellphones dying. They knew it was impractical to carry a bulky charger and instead designed one that fits in a wallet. The device, which is about as thick as three credit cards, would sell for about $30, they said.
Erika Tyburski created AnemoCheck, an inexpensive and disposable test that would allow people to test themselves for anemia. The test requires less than a drop of blood put into a tube about the size of a pen cap.
She estimates her product would retail for about $19.95 for a 10-pack. She has already contacted a manufacturer in Atlanta and is going through clinical trials.
Steven Wojcio and Scott Groveman created BioPIN to prevent people from accessing your accounts even if they have the four-digit code. The program, which works on smartphones and other touch-screen devices, creates a personal profile by registering how hard a person punches in the code, where they are when they type it in, how often they do it and other information.
Other finalists include a device that reproduces the vibration and motions of car rides that lull babies to sleep and a toaster that toasts bread by letting people pick what shade they want it to be.
Chris Taylor created Chewbots, a line of automated robotic dog toys, after watching his mom repeatedly throw a toy with their dog.
That repetition made him think a robot could do the same thing. A sturdy, vibrating rubber snowman caters to dogs that like to chew. A robotic duck on wheels zooms around, making it ideal for dogs that enjoy a chase. A plush pig has a more subdued motion.
“I know it’s a little bit crazy, I mean it’s robots for dogs, but I try to put robots in everything,” Taylor said.
Six innovations are vying to win the InVenture Prize, an annual Georgia Tech contest that rewards undergraduate inventors. The finalists are:
AnemoCheck is an inexpensive, disposable diagnostic test for anemia.
Inventor: Erika Tyburski, biomedical engineering major from Miami.
BioPIN addresses cyber-security concerns about four-digit PINs by making it difficult for people to access your information even if they have your numbers.
Inventors: Scott Groveman, electrical engineering major from Roswell, and Steven Wojcio, computer science major from Forsyth.
Chewbots is a line of automated robotic dog toys.
Inventor: Chris Taylor, mechanical engineering major from Stone Mountain.
Hue is a toaster that toasts bread by color. Instead of a dial with numbers, this one has shades of color.
Inventor: Basheer Tome, industrial design major from Conyers.
iSleep reproduces the vibration and motions of car rides that lull babies to sleep. A baby carrier snaps into the device.
Inventors: Joe Hickey, mechanical engineering major from Houston, and Zack Zalesky, mechanical engineering major from Atlanta.
Spark is a cellphone wall charger the size of a credit card that fits in a wallet.
Inventors: Sam Elia, electrical engineering major from Augusta, and Grant Heffley, business administration major from Lawrenceville.
Source: Georgia Tech