Three winners from the Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC) will be chosen at CES 2015. All ten finalists will appear on stage at the Venetian in Las Vegas to vie for the opportunity to present their product later to Sir Richard Branson.
Finalists have been helped towards their goal with a boost from such companies as Amazon who provides web service. Rackspace offers no-fee hosting. Back-up and recovery services come from Axcient. Helpful tools were additional perks, such as app development from Progress and from Spotfire data analytics from TIBCO.
Entrants came from more than 100 countries and were whittled down to the final ten. Only three will be chosen at the CES showdown to go to Branson’s Necker island to meet with him. Kym McNicholas, Executive Director of Extreme Tech Challenge said: It was truly a tough call as we had an incredible set of high quality candidates that I believe will be the next billion dollar wave.
Contestants range from a graphics app thru medical equipment, a publishing platform, travel booking, drones, facial recognition to a high end motorcycle helmet just to name a few. Judges have experience in many of the industries represented. Jeff Hoffman, co-founder of Priceline, should be able to evaluate Wanderu that is geared to making bookings, not for planes or hotels, but a different segment of the travel industry – intercity buses and trains.
BioHeart founder Howard Leonhardt another of the XTC judges is steeped in the medical environment. The company works with cell technologies to treat cardiovascular diseases. Robert Scoble will also sit on the panel. A well-known tech blogger who once worked at Microsoft, Scoble is now with Rackspace’s Small Teams, Big Impact (previously Building 43). This division, a new content and social networking website, is geared to help new startups and encourage groundbreaking technology. The Extreme Tech Challenge is right up their alley.
One entrant is by Eko Designs founded last year at UC Berkeley. Eko Designs’ Core is a digital stethoscope attachment that allows clinicians to switch between analog and digital information. It helps visualize, record, playback, share, and analyze heart sounds. The added device standardizes the recording of heart sounds, attaches them to medical records, and provides better coordination of care between professionals. It attempts to address the misdiagnoses and unnecessary referrals that occur in heart-related cases.
The device’s integrated Bluetooth links the Core to Eko’s smartphone app and its HIPAA compliant web portal. These digital tools provide heartbeat analysis, audio visualization, and secure data storage. You can sign up for one of the beta units coming in 2015 and see for yourself if you can amplify, record, analyze and securely share heart sounds which identify heart murmurs more accurately than ever before.
Ghost is an open source publishing platform for bloggers. Its tools make you look professional while it adds in a few rules to live by when blogging. The Ghost Foundation is a small nonprofit organization that runs the project. As with any open source, the public, people from all around the world, contribute to its structure and features.
Although the software is free, as with any open source application, with free comes “basic.” Beyond that, a fee is attached. Ghost sustains itself by renting space for, or hosting, your blog for $10 a month. Their marketplace contains a directory of themes, apps, and resources which have been created specifically for Ghost. Some are free; some are premium, meaning you pay a fee to use them. For $10/month you get unlimited transfer and storage with automatic updates and backups and worldwide CDN & security protection. For a team of ten bloggers you pay $100/month and receive priority support. You can sign up and try it out for free.
Wanderu, unfortunately is only currently covering the US and Canada. If you have ever tried to get around Europe which has a better public transport system than most of the US, you’ll appreciate this new app. They have City Travel Guides for prominent East Coast cities. Bus and train schedules for Boston make your visit to one of the important sites of the American Revolution easy. Wanderu connects you with 10 different bus companies within the Boston area.
Their bus routes are short hauls on each coast. No nationwide trips are available yet. If you want to go from San Francisco to Los Angeles and see scenery along the way, Wanderu is the ticket. Want to take a look at Florida, then after seeing Disneyworld in Orlando, hop a bus to Miami to sun yourself on the beaches using Wanderu’s routing and ticket app. The company selects only the safest and most trusted brands in ground travel. It provides mobile information on Apple, Android or Blackberry.
All ten finalists will appear at CES 2015. Look for the contest to take place January 8 in the Marco Polo room at 2PM.