Take a battery powered cane, goggles and wrist bands — each embedded with proximity sensors — and what do you get?
New Jersey Institute of Technology undergraduate Fabio Arias believes it's a distinct formula that will reduce injury and improve the lives of the blind and visually impaired.
Enough contest judges at the Newark Innovation Acceleration Challenge agreed to give Arias — along with six other teams of budding entrepreneurs — a boost by providing access to $3,000 capital plus mentorship.
NJIT held its fifth annual acceleration event Monday. Arranged in combination with Capital One Bank, it is designed to provide young aspirants feedback and resources to help launch startups.
Judges selected seven winners, four student-led teams and three from the Newark area. In addition to capital, winners gained enrollment in a 10-week accelerator program next summer at NJIT's Enterprise Development Center.
"What stood out for me is the ideas were relevant to lots of people in terms of problems they were trying to solve," said judge Daniel Delahanty, senior director of community development banking for Capital One.
Arias, a mechanical and industrial engineering student, designed his product, SenVis, to sense potentially dangerous steps — such as a dip from an oncoming stairwell — and communicate that information to the walker. The arrangement relies on vibrations, facilitated by Bluetooth technology, to help the user to interact with their surroundings.
Arias hopes the end result, projected to sell for around $200, will be less expensive and more practical than alternatives, such as seeing-eye dogs. His originality earned first-place recognition among the student teams.
"SenVis definitely had a different spin on it," said event judge Chike Uzoka, an entrepreneur and small business consultant.
Other winners included, among students:
Three winners were chosen from the community: