A flying car and a buoy searching for sharks were among the tech nominated for the SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards this year, but the big winners announced last night were devices and developments that focused more on the human element.
In the Heath and MedTech category, VocaliD brought home the award for creating a repository of donated voices to be synthesized into unique voices for anyone with limited speech. The innovation here is using real human voices — which can be donated by anyone with a microphone — to craft something fit to match the recipient. Up until now, most people who require synthetic speech sound like Stephen Hawking’s famous digital dialect — understandable, but not very human. VocaliD wants to change that.
“We’re so excited by this,” VocaliD told Nerdist, “SXSW is recognition that the project we’re working on is one that everyone recognizes as important and we’re gonna crush it!”
The piece of tech that took home the Sci-Fi No More award (and beat out the flying car prototype) was a small, pen-shaped device able to use light to better detect skin cancers and lesions without biopsies. Now in clinical development with researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, this device uses three different kinds of light-sensing tech to accurately measure different properties of a patient’s skin. If the device really gives a clearer picture of skin as problems arise, that means fewer biopsies, less medical costs, and a better health care experience.
“Hopefully this will bring attention and get us some funding that we need to try bring this skin cancer detection device into clinics and actually try to save lives.”
The 3-DIY award at SXSW went to “Project Daniel,” an effort from Not Impossible to bring 3D-printed prosthetic limbs to children in war-torn Sudan. After returning home from a trip to Sudan, Not Impossible founder Mick Ebeling was determined to set-up a 3D-printed prosthetic facility and help Daniel, a 14-year-old who lost both arms in a blast from a bomb dropped on his village. The “Daniel Arm” that Ebeling and his team created enabled Daniel to feed himself for the first time in two years.
“SXSW Interactive has been amazing,” Elliot Kotek of Not Impossible Labs told Nerdist, “It’s not just helping people get their amazing ideas made, but enabling them to have the impact they deserve in order to help others.”
You can click through the list of SXSW Interactive Innovation Award winners across 13 different categories here.
IMAGE: Not Impossible Labs