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10 U.S. Inventors Named Finalists in First Global Showcase for Hardware-Led Social Innovation

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the world’s largest organization for mechanical engineers, has announced the finalists of the 2017 ASME Innovation Showcase (ISHOW), the first international competition for hardware-led social innovation.

28 inventors from across the globe, 10 of whom hail from the United States, have been selected to participate in the showcase in Washington, D.C. on June 22, where they will present their design prototypes that tackle social issues across eight key themes: water and sanitation, energy, environment, food and agriculture, economic development and community empowerment, safety and education. This year’s finalists include:

  • BioLite HomeStove (Jonathan Cedar): An ultra-clean cookstove that reduces smoke emissions by 90 percent and biomass fuel consumption by 50 percent compared to traditional open fire cooking, while also co-generating electricity from the flame to charge mobile phones and lights.
  • Voz Box (Mary McCulloch): The Voz Box is a groundbreaking speech generation device that is both affordable and customizable and could provide invaluable communication opportunities for millions of nonverbal people.
  • Simprints (Alexandra Grigore): With a novel fingerprinting system, Simprints aims to create a world where lack of identity is never the reason why anyone is denied basic services in healthcare, education and finance.
  • QuickSee (Shivang Dave): PlenOptika developed the QuickSee to disrupt the barriers to eyeglass prescriptions for billions of people worldwide so that they can get the eyeglasses they need.
  • EV 8 Cooler (Quang Truong): Evaptainers creates low-cost mobile refrigerators that run on water, ideal for low-income families who live off the grid or cannot afford a conventional refrigerator.
  • RevX (Matthew Chun): A transfemoral rotator that restores dignity to low-income amputees by enabling them to sit cross-legged, dress themselves, get back to work and more.
  • Team Sixth Sense: A sensory system designed to attach to lower-limb prosthetics that utilizes NeoSensory’s current technology to provide real-time vibrotactile feedback.
  • Kaleyedos Imaging Device (Erica Schwarz): A revolutionary infant retinal imager that will empower neonatal intensive care units worldwide to decrease the incidence of visual impairment and blindness due to infant retinal disease.
  • SmartBoots (Hahna Alexander): Self-charging work boots that collect status and location data and provide workforces in hazardous environments with actionable insights.
  • VeggieNest (Kenji Tabery): Smart home gardening systems that aim to address the growing market need for access to organic, affordable and nutritious produce that enable global consumers to be food secure.

During the competition, finalists will pitch their product prototypes to a panel of judges that include entrepreneurs, academics and founders of venture-funded startup companies. The pitches will outline the engineering design attributes of the prototypes and also include a discussion of plans for manufacturing, implementation, marketing and financing.

This year’s finalists are vying for $500,000 in cash and in-kind prizes, such as technical assistance and design and engineering reviews, that ASME has offered to in an effort to bring these socially innovative hardware-led solutions to market.

“ASME originally created ISHOW three years ago after our research showed a tremendous lack of support for hardware innovators seeking to enter global markets and make a social impact,” said K. Keith Roe, President of ASME. “With this year’s entries among the most promising we’ve seen since ISHOW first launched, we’re confident they will have the potential to address some of the most challenging issues faced by mankind.”


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