By Jennifer Bogdan, Journal State House Bureau
Posted Nov. 15, 2015 at 11:15 PM
SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — Anthony Bisulco, Darby Hoss, and Amanda Figueroa spent their weekend at the University of Rhode Island, developing an idea for a product that could locate radiation sources in real time and help determine the exact location of a biological weapon.
That would be a tall order in less than 48 hours for anyone, but it’s even more impressive when considering that Bisculo, Hoss and Figueroa are all students who were taking part in URI’s first “Internet of Things Hackathon.” The student teams were charged with using modern technologies to solve a specific problem.
Not only do the students have to develop an idea, but they’re tasked with considering business plans for scaling their products to a large audience and thinking about how they can protect their intellectual property, said Kunel Mankodiya, an assistant engineering professor at URI and one of the event organizers.
The students met and formed teams on Friday. By Sunday, they were pitching their ideas to a panel of judges, including representatives from the Slater Technology Fund, the state Commerce Corporation, URI faculty and others.
For those not familiar with this kind of academic competition, it’s a bit like the TV show “Shark Tank” where budding entrepreneurs pitch their inventions to a panel, and hope someone wants to invest. Here, roughly 12 students competed on four teams for the top prize.
Bisulco, a sophomore from Northeastern University, Hoss, a graduate student from Purdue University, and Figueroa, a senior from the University of Puerto Rico, comprised the team that was selected as the judge’s choice winner.
URI graduate student Gozde Cay presented an idea for a device that could be mounted on a tennis racket and would measure the speed of a swing and analyze the angle of the shot to help a player improve. Mankodiya pointed out that while that might not be a pressing issue to solve, the idea reflects the fact that there is a huge market in sports.
Another team of students developed a plan for a mobile app that would monitor how many open spaces are available in a parking lot. Users could access the data in real time, to find the most efficient place to park as they approach their destinations.
A fourth team developed an idea for virtual team-building software where players wearing virtual reality goggles would help each other navigate how to walk across lava on stepping stones. The idea is the product could be used by offices that have their employees do team building exercises to create a more productive work environment.
This article originally published by the The Providence Journal.