For student Kirk Stallings, frustration was the mother of invention.
His entry in the entrepreneurship games was born out of watching a first-year professor struggle to advance PowerPoint slides. When the prof picked up a remote control, his arms became “like cement,” robbing him of conversational gestures, Stallings said.
“The technology was defeating him, not allowing him to communicate.”
To replace the remote, Stallings designed Slick Click, a device with buttons on it that can be worn on the index finger like a ring. This allows the user to move more naturally while still having complete control of the presentation.
Although the computer engineering major did have fun with miniaturized components, he avoided “technolust,” the need to add high-tech features such as a microchip or solar cell. Instead of proprietary Bluetooth technology, he chose free, old-school radio frequency transmission.
“You’re looking for something that will be more useful, not necessarily faster, stronger, bigger,” Stallings says, crediting advisor Stephen Walsh, director of the Engineering Entrepreneurship Program, for insisting on a customer-based approach.
Slick Click got a thumbs-up from Sidd Chopra, an accomplished speaker with the highest designation from Toastmasters International. “I’ve been looking for something just like that,” he said after a tryout.
View a Slideshow from eGames 2010
Could Stallings’ invention be on the market for his former prof and others? The $30,000 at stake in the second annual eGames could help him get started.
Other student entrepreneurs tackled problems ranging from protecting children who ride school buses to making it easier to learn the guitar.
The AutoEYE team designed a camera system that can be mounted on school buses to catch drivers who speed past stopped buses – endangering the 26 million kids who get on or off every day. The system identifies drivers’ faces and license plate numbers, and provides video footage with date, time and GPS data to law enforcement officials via a secure server. All three team members will graduate in May – Shannon Campanario and Wes Trenholme-Pihl from mechanical and aerospace engineering and John Krier from electrical and computer engineering.
Check out AutoEYE
Italo Leiva, a psychology major, found inspiration in his pastime, playing the guitar. Now he and partner Ahmed Abdel Ghani are well on their way to getting color-coded guitar strings and related sheet music to market.
When those aspiring guitarists are practiced enough to join a band, they may be able take advantage of another invention from eGames: Sound Around, whose developers created a Web site for musicians more comfortable with amps than apps. Bands can design customized iPhone applications that will allow fans to access video, audio, concert dates and social media feeds.
The Sound Around team builds the application and puts it in Apple’s store for a monthly subscription fee. Group members include computer engineering majors from the class of 2010 – Brian Goins, Chris Lynch, Taylor Jones and Scott Klein – and Steve Klein, a business management major in his junior year.
Younger eGames talent is already in training. Freshman Nicholas Sailer created Monster Deck, a family card game.