By Lori Stabile, PBN Web Editor
Posted Dec. 4, 2015

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A proposal for a wearable eye tracker that can control a robotic arm won the 10th annual Elevator Pitch Contest Thursday night sponsored by the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition.

CARA NUNEZ, on left, winner of the 10th annual Elevator Pitch Contest sponsored by the Rhode Island Business Competition for her proposal to create a wearable eye tracker to control a robotic arm, is shown with Rhode Island Business Plan Competition Co-chair Peggy Farrell. COURTESY RHODE ISLAND BUSINESS COMPETITION

CARA NUNEZ, on left, winner of the 10th annual Elevator Pitch Contest sponsored by the Rhode Island Business Competition for her proposal to create a wearable eye tracker to control a robotic arm, is shown with Rhode Island Business Plan Competition Co-chair Peggy Farrell. – COURTESY RHODE ISLAND BUSINESS COMPETITION

Cara Nunez, a University of Rhode Island senior majoring in biomedical engineering and Spanish, already has built a prototype for her business, Always in Control, which would help mobility-impaired patients complete small tasks daily.

The technology uses a small camera to track eye movement. Data is then transmitted to motors controlling a robotic arm.

The East Greenwich resident plans to start trials with patients this month.
Each presenter had 90 seconds to present his or her idea to a panel of five judges, who then gave verbal feedback about the clarity and persuasiveness of the pitch. Nunez received the top prize of $250; a total of $1,000 was awarded at the competition, including one $200 prize, three $100 prizes and five $50 prizes.

“Persuasively pitching your business idea – to attract potential investors, partners and employees – is an essential business skill, and everyone who took part in the Elevator Pitch Contest got valuable pointers from our judging panel,” Competition Co-chair Anthony Mangiarelli said in a statement. “There were many great business ideas put forward, and we look forward to seeing them bear fruit.”

The contest, held at Tech Collective, featured 25 presenters, including a contestant from Maryland. Approximately 100 people attended the event.

The other winning presenters were as follows:

  • Brandon Lane, of Providence, who pitched Better Off, which creates products and programs to help individuals and organizations balance digital overload. He won $200.
  • Adam Loewentheil, a Brown University student, who pitched LFI Inc-less, an inkless pen designed by Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University students, won $100.
  • Yelitsa Jean-Charles, a Rhode Island School of Design student, who pitched Healthy Roots, a toy company that creates dolls and storybooks that combat unhealthy beauty standards among young girls of color, won $100.
  • Emily Levy, of Newport, who pitched PICCPerfect, which creates after-market medical accessories for patients going through long-term treatment, won $100.
  • Peter Ishiguro, a Brown University student from Tustin, Calif., who pitched Shredlights, which proposes to make products aimed at improving skateboard safety, won $50.
  • Cliff Weitzman, a Brown University student, who pitched Empower, an online service that connects users with freelancers or personal assistants, won $50.
  • Tolulope Lawal, a Brown University student, who pitched Blend, a platform for borrowing, lending and renting items, received $50.
  • Nicole Brazio, of Providence, who pitched Thryve, an app that lets users track what they eat and how that food makes them feel, received $50.
  • Laura Burkett, of Pawtucket, who pitched Laura Burkett Designs, which proposes to produce a line of high-end, Italian-inspired leather business accessories, won $50.

Judging the contest were:

  • Larry Eichler, president, Lawrence S. Eichler PC and Eichler Realty Company Inc.
  • Katherine Gordon, managing director, Technology Ventures Office, Brown University
  • Todd Knapp, CEO, Envision Technology Advisors
  • Barbara Schoenfeld , executive director, Brooks, Houghton & Co. Inc.
  • Brian Spero, executive vice president, chief operating officer and general counsel, The Beacon Mutual Insurance Co.

Lead sponsors of the 2016 competition are Ava Anderson Non Toxic, Bryant University, Focus Vision Media, Hinckley Allen & Snyder LLP; Kahn, Litwin, Renza & Co. Ltd and the Providence Journal Charitable Legacy Fund.

This article originally published by the Providence Business News.