DURHAM — An independent quick-deploy network connecting emergency rescue crews with victims of natural disasters and a dating app that integrates wearable technology to mitigate sexual violence took home the top prizes during the New Hampshire Social Venture Innovation Challenge on Thursday.
Organized by the University of New Hampshire’s Center for Social Innovation and Enterprise, the challenge is open to students at the school and members of the community. Finalists compete for $27,500 in cash, plus in-kind prizes worth an additional $22,500.
Devon Crawford and Jack Nichols of Milford, both 22, are best friends who came up with their idea called “TheHive” by accident. The pair soon realized it could prove to be life-saving during natural disasters such as hurricanes. They won first place in the community track division.
“The technology is a quick-deploy wireless network, so you connect to it with your iPhone, any phone, any iPad or computer. You connect to it and once you connect to it, it’s a local network so anyone in that network can contact emergency crews or can contact loved ones,” Crawford said.
“And the amazing thing about this network is it’s completely stand-alone from any preexisting wifi, cellphone, LTE infrastructure. We aren’t relying on any of the previous infrastructure, and we’re able to do what we really need to do with this and deploy it very quickly and easily,” Nichols said.
The duo says their currently functioning prototype is cheap, delivered to emergency rescue workers by drones and is powered through solar panels.
They believe these devices are the future of disaster relief, as cellphone towers often go down, leaving victims stranded with no way to reach out for help.
Crawford and Nichols were awarded $10,000.
Four mechanical engineering majors who are seniors at UNH won first place in the student track division for their Lux safer dating app.
Christin Badylak-Reals is a survivor of sexual assault and said this app could have prevented it from happening. Her team’s technology has location tracking with a date safe mode and wearable technology so people can feel comfortable knowing they can discreetly contact a trusted friend or police if they are in danger.
Team member Mark Torpey said there is a lot of room for improvement with dating apps and he thinks this could help promote safe relationships for both sexes.
“If I can work on a project like Lux and come up with a potential solution and make it more safe for both parties, men and women, I could be an ally for both sides, and that’s all I really need for justification,” Torpey said.
The wearable technology can be in a watch, ring or earring.
The team, which also includes Sean McLoud and Julie Berberian, was awarded $5,000.
Both winning teams were advised by Ian Grant, executive director of UNH ECenter.
The winners were selected from a field of 95 entries and 16 finalist teams by a panel of judges who heard presentations from the finalists Thursday morning at Holloway Commons.
To see all of the video presentations submitted by finalists, visit www.unh.edu/social-innovation/svic/2018-finalists.