SOURCE: Vodafone Americas Foundation

Vodafone Americas Foundation

April 12, 2016 10:00 ET

Vodafone Americas Foundation Announces Finalists for Eighth Annual Wireless Innovation Project

Finalists Competing to Win a Total of $600,000 in Prize Money for Wireless and Mobile Innovations Designed to Impact the Global Community

REDWOOD CITY, CA--(Marketwired - Apr 12, 2016) - The Vodafone Americas Foundation today announced the eight finalists in its eighth annual Wireless Innovation Project (WIP), an annual competition for wireless-related technologies aimed at solving the critical issues facing the world today. The finalists, who span non-profits, universities, and social entrepreneurs, were chosen as the solutions with the highest potential to make a difference for people around the world and create lasting social change.

"This year's Wireless Innovation Project finalists have developed innovative solutions to solve problems in every sector from energy to sustainability to healthcare -- truly reflecting the most urgent issues facing the global community today," said June Sugiyama, Director, Vodafone Americas Foundation. "We're proud to recognize the outstanding work of these individuals who are changing the world with wireless technology, and look forward to choosing our three winners in June."

From the eight finalists, a panel of judges will select three winners, to be announced during the Social Innovation Summit 2016 in Washington, D.C. on June 7-8. The first place winner will be awarded $300,000, second place $200,000, and third place $100,000, to continue developing their projects. The awards will be paid out over the course of three years. Since launching in 2009, the Wireless Innovation Project has awarded $4.2 million to unique solutions created to address critical issues around the world. Past WIP winners have gone on to future success through international accolades, various industry prizes, and more than $9.5 million in additional funding following their involvement with WIP.

Last year's WIP winner, California Institute of Technology's SEVA Sustainable Sanitation, was awarded the $300,000 first place prize for its vision to provide an intelligent black water treatment system, with the aim of helping the 2.5 billion people -- around half the people in the developing world -- who do not use an improved sanitation facility. The awarded funding combined with Vodafone's global experience and industry knowledge has helped SEVA bring its sustainable solution to people in new communities in need around the world.

The Wireless Innovation Project's 2016 finalists are:

  • LifeGuard Drone - Aiming to reduce worldwide drowning tragedies, LifeGuard Drone uses a wearable device worn by a swimmer which sends out an "SOS" signal with its GPS location to a drone to activate a rescue operation. The drone, which is much quicker than a human lifeguard, automatically flies over the swimmer and drops a floatation device.
  • Neopenda - Every year, millions of newborns die from preventable causes, and 98 percent of the deaths occur in the developing world, where monitoring equipment is not available due to high cost and limited resources. Neopenda is an affordable newborn vital signs monitor integrated into a baby hat that transmits data to nurses to help provide early detection when a newborn is in distress.
  • Panthera's PoacherCam - Wildlife poaching and trafficking is a multi-billion dollar business that is driving the extinction of important species, and threatening the livelihoods of rural communities. PoacherCams are remote cameras that allow anti-poaching teams to monitor wildlife populations and safely detect poaching threats in real time, increasing security for the wildlife and the local people.
  • Portland State University's SweetSense Sensors - In many developing countries, rural infrastructure including cook stoves, latrines, water filters and water pumps have the potential to improve public health, but a lack of feedback on performance and use often leads to a lack of accountability for maintenance. Portland State University's SWEETLab has developed SweetSense remote monitoring technologies to improve performance of monitoring remote water, energy and infrastructure projects in developing countries.
  • Sunfarmer's Energy X - Rural hospitals, schools, and farms in the developing world often rely on solar energy. However, the larger systems required to meet their energy needs are often plagued with problems. Energy X is the first low cost remote monitoring and control platform for off-grid renewable energy systems, transmitting performance data and control commands via SMS to trained technicians, therefore increasing transparency, system performance and creating accountability for maintenance.
  • UC Berkeley and University of Michigan's GridWatch - Power grids in developing countries primarily use low-cost prepaid meters, which lack a grid sensing system, leaving utilities dependent on customer reports to learn about service issues. GridWatch is an electricity grid monitoring system which leverages a side-channel available on smartphones, along with a reliable and independently powered cellular network to provide sensing at the edges of the grid.
  • UCLA's EyeSee - Hemianopia, decreased vision or blindness in half the visual field, affects millions of stroke patients each year. EyeSee is an end-to-end vision enhancement and tele-rehabilitation solution combining a smartphone and a compact head-mounted display to maximize the residual vision and enable independent living for hemianopic patients.
  • UCLA's Air Quality Mapping Project - There is an urgent need for detection and quantification of air pollution around the world. A team at UCLA is working on a project on spatio-temporal mapping of air quality using a computational sensor for rapid air quality quantification, enabling on the ground as well as drone-based 3D mapping of toxic emissions from pollution sources like highways, airports or factories.

About the Vodafone Americas Foundation
The Vodafone Americas Foundation is part of Vodafone's global network of 27 foundations. It is affiliated with Vodafone Group. In addition the Wireless Innovation Project, the Vodafone Americas Foundation supports programs in the United States to Improve People's Lives, Support the Development Sector, Spark Innovation, and Empower Women and Girls. For more information, please visit:

About Vodafone Group
Vodafone is one of the world's largest telecommunications companies and provides a range of services including voice, messaging, data and fixed communications. Vodafone has mobile operations in 26 countries, partners with mobile networks in 57 more, and fixed broadband operations in 17 markets. As of 31 December 2015, Vodafone had 461 million mobile customers and 13 million fixed broadband customers. For more information, please visit: