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Intelligence++ Competition Winners Announced
Three interdisciplinary teams won the inaugural Intelligence++ design and entrepreneurship competition held at Syracuse University Libraries’ Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars (LaunchPad) on April 16. MeetCute won the $15,000 gold prize, HG Sensory won the $10,000 silver prize and Fundwurx won the $5,000 bronze prize. The competition was the culmination of a two-semester inclusive entrepreneurship and design course taught by College of Visual and Performing Arts professor Don Carr, with support from School of Education inclusive education assistant professor and executive director of the Taishoff Center Dr. Beth Myers, and adjunct faculty member at the Whitman School and executive director of the Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars Linda Dickerson-Hartsock.
The elective, open to both undergraduate and graduate students from any school or college at Syracuse University including students with intellectual disability from InclusiveU, emphasized interdisciplinary and collaborative innovation. The program and competition prize money were funded through a generous donation from Gianfranco Zaccai ’70 H’09 and the Zaccai Foundation for Augmented Intelligence (Intelligence++TM). The Foundation seeks to develop, stimulate, and leverage technological, educational, and organizational innovation to enable and empower individuals with intellectual disability, their families, and their communities to improve quality of life, enhance independence and productivity, lower cost, and benefit society.
Ten interdisciplinary teams of students from the College of Visual and Performing Arts, Whitman School of Management, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, Newhouse School of Public Communications, the School of Information Studies and the School of Education were selected to present their proposals for products, services or technologies. InclusiveU students provided important input on design, accessibility and user feedback. The teams were:
- Attainable Accessibility, consisting of members Shravani Jadhav, Assul Larancuent, Elizabeth Fatade, and Robert Howes, making accessibility more attainable for power chair users with innovative technology. “Accessibility should promote equity. We believe every person should be able to be in control of their own mobility. Having this control promotes confidence and independence…Attainable Accessibility will bring inclusivity by giving those who aren’t mobile independence through smart technology that utilizes voice control.”
- CENTRE, consisting of members Noah Hollander and Natalie Liu, designed a device that uses sensors to assist students with disabilities by limiting the effects of distractions and helping to regain focus and concentration. “CENTRE provides a wearable device… [that] tracks eye movements through EEG and a Bluetooth enabled app that connects to phones and smart watches to monitor, record, and help resolve distraction with a goal of improving overall lifestyle and wellbeing.”
- Drum Flower, consisting of members James Ruhlman and Noah Johnson, is an interactive sculpture for public spaces that serves as a place for congregation and community bonding. The installation is designed specifically so people with disabilities can also access and engage the community. “The project addresses the marginalization of people with disabilities, specifically with inclusion and connection to their community. Our project’s purpose is to give people a means of communicating and interacting nonverbally with others in a public space.”
- Fundwurx (Bronze prize winner), consisting of member Ben Ford, is multi-service platform that works to accelerate impact driven projects and better connect them with donors, while also providing additional resources and tools. “Fundwurx focuses directly on these core values, using technological tools to create personalized philanthropy at scale.”
- HG Sensory (Silver prize winner), consisting of members Sam Hollander, Grace McDonald, Hannah Woodruff, Kaitlyn Brach, Morgan McMinn and Hannah Frankel, is the world’s first sensory deprivation cocoon, enabling an easier dining experience for individuals with sensory disabilities. “Together, we have the power to enhance the dining experience for thousands of people across the world living with sensory disabilities.”
- inclusiv, consisting of members Emiri Vitoontien, Keyshawn Wims and Gokul Beeda, is an Inclusive learning management system that increases the scope of learning for students with disabilities. “There are seven million students with disabilities in the American education system, and most of them are deprived of a seamless learning experience due to outdated learning management systems. We are building an accessible platform from the ground up with tools and features like electronic braille, voice assistance, and content assistance.”
- MeetCute (Gold prize winner), consisting of members Madison Worden and Natalie Liu, is a dating and friendship app built with principles of universal design accessible to everyone. “MeetCute is a safe and inclusive app for everyone looking to meet compatible people for companionship and dating… compatible with the most common accessibility features such as voice-over, text to speech, and changing color contrast. MeetCute will change dating in an image-obsessed culture and provide genuine people a way to meet in a safe digital environment.”
- SmartSupport, consisting of members Patrick McGrath and Cynthia Garcia, is an interface that allows people with disabilities to stay connected with their support network. “This app is targeted towards students or individuals who are living away from home and their support network for the first time.”
- UrMentor, consisting of members Ricardo Sanchez, Ramya Swaminathan and Maya Gupta, is a mentorship program for InclusiveU students. “The program would partner InclusiveU students with high schoolers from the local area, as well as provide means of communication, goal-oriented activities, and workshops. The goal of the program is to help foster community, to motivate, and to create positive impact on youth with disabilities.”
- Wo-Manly, consisting of members Kelly Davis and Patrick Prioletti, is an on-line platform for women who are both neurotypical and neurodivergent, to build their own spaces and share their strengths in nontraditional spaces. “Wo-manly is an online platform for women to be empowered, empower others and make lifelong friendships… Women can interact each other in a multitude of ways: text conversations, video and voice chats, coworking and hangout spaces, private messaging and in-person meet ups. They can explore communities and start their own, to make life long, supportive friendships.”
“All submissions were winners in the eyes of the jury, and I congratulate each and every team member and their advisors,” said Gianfranco Zaccai. “The Intelligence ++ competition will grow year after year by inspiring diverse sensibilities and talents across the university and positioning Syracuse University as a leader in fostering human centered entrepreneurial innovation to augment the capabilities and aspirations of neurodiverse people, their families, and society.”