Competition launches for next big thing in wearable tech

May 5, 2017

Competition launches for next big thing in wearable tech

Callaghan Innovation C-Prize is presented to an Auckland crowd. Photo: Twitter / Colm Kearney

Calling the next tech wunderkid: Callaghan Innovation is on the hunt for someone who can take a great leap forward in design.

At its C-Prize launch in Auckland last night, the government agency asked Kiwis to come up with the next big thing in wearable technology, with a $100,000 prize pack up for grabs.

AUT University hosted a room full of budding entrepreneurs, all there to scope out the local competition and even form new alliances – after all, the first winning team met each other at the same event in 2015.

Applicants have until July 2 to come up with designs, which must fall under one of the given categories: living healthier, working safer or playing smarter.

But the invention will need to be more than a smart watch or fitness tracker.

“That's all current generation,” said judge and industrial designer Blythe Rees-Jones, who was excited by the huge potential of wearable technology to solve real-world problems.

“Our perception of wearables is conditioned to consumer products. The opportunity is way beyond that.”

“We are looking to take the lead to the leading edge.”

The competition, which runs every two years, is open to anyone over 16 years old living in New Zealand.

“A winner can come from all walks of life. [From] the lone maverick in the shed in Invercargill, to full commercial teams and students,” said Mr Rees-Jones.

The first C-Prize in 2015 focused on drone technology and saw a group of four Auckland University students take out the top prize for a design that could withstand bad weather on film sets.

Team member Ryan Kurte was there to inspire hopeful entrants last night.

“The C-Prize is an opportunity to build something a bit insane,” said Mr Kurte.

His advice?

“Be prepared for small explosions and pick something you’re excited about. There’s going to be a lot of late nights.”

For two young Auckland University engineering students, the evening showed them how much bigger their ideas could be.

“We’ve worked on wearable technology in our course, so it would be cool to use what we have learnt,” said Dhanya Herath.

Added fellow student Lysea Munoz: “Wearable technology combines a lot of my interests – sport, fashion and health. The competition is a great incentive to come up with amazing ideas. We’ve got too many now.”

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