Last week saw Jacksonville, FL light up for the 2014 One Spark Crowdfunding Festival. It’s an event like no other, taking a typically Internet-based phenomenon such as crowdfunding and putting it in a traditional setting like good old fashioned face-to-face networking.
The festival gave inventors and innovators from the worlds of tech, science, art, and music the opportunity to flaunt their creations to potential supporters and investors as well as compete for cash prizes in their respective categories.
Here are five tech gadgets and apps from the festival that caught our eye:
PartPic won the festival’s jury-voted tech award with its recognition technology web and mobile app for searching for replacement parts in machinery. Simply take a picture of the part you are looking to replace and PartPic will check its database using “sophisticated extraction algorithms” to find the correct name and specifications for the part, and then all you need to do is place the order.
PartPic says that industrial distributors can reduce errors in ordering parts by using the app. PartPic’s team won $10,000 for their project as well as a spot at One Spark Berlin in September where they will continue to raise funds ahead of the pilot launch later this year.
Marbel, the “world’s lightest electric vehicle”, is a super light electric powered skateboard with an integrated iOS app designed for short distance journeys and commutes. The board is controlled by a wireless handheld controller and maneuvers quite similarly to a regular skateboard with the major difference being speed.
The Tampa-based designers claim that the Marbel can hit speeds of 10mph and 20mph, depending on what battery you opt for. That’s some formidable speed for a skateboard so make sure you have your helmet for your commute. The makers behind the board say it’s aimed at people with journeys of five miles or less, who enjoy the outdoors. The team is raising funds for further tooling and dealing with suppliers.
3. JaxParking Meter
The JaxParking Meter is just focused on Jacksonville right now but its possibilities can be applied to any city in the world. The mobile app essentially scours the area you are in for free parking meters, with the aim of making your trip downtown a little less hellish when it comes to finding an available parking spot.
So far its creator Paul Bitutsky has developed a prototype using the interactive map and geographic information system ArcGIS. He came to OneSpark to raise funds to purchase additional ArcGIS tools and to continue working with GIS expert Tetya Shura in order to bring the project closer to reality. Bitutsky even goes on to claim that app can reduce driver’s gas use by finding parking more efficiently and ease traffic congestion.
With all the apps and crazy gadgets on display, it was clear at this year’s One Spark that young inventors had thought of everything and that includes getting the best deal on a used car. There’s a classic cliché about shady used car dealers so you want to make sure you’re getting a good price for your purchase. With the Vinny app, you can scan the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) of the car and the app will search through its database of over 100 million cars.
Vinny’s creator says that the app calculates the fairest price with the aim to “bring transparency to a very opaque marketplace” and allow users to negotiate on a level playing field. So far the app has had 80,000 downloads and its creator is looking to expand the team and focus on marketing.
WaZINIT is an app that allows users to manage their diet and grocery shopping a little more efficiently. Whether you have digestive issues or just dietary preferences, constantly checking the ingredient labels on each piece of food can be cumbersome. WaZINIT means the user can set up a profile with their food preferences and once you scan the item’s barcode, the app will compare ingredients and will return a simple result to tell you if the food is suitable for your diet or your family’s.
The husband and wife duo that founded the app are aiming for an iOS launch soon and are raising funds for the Android version. The WaZINIT app finished second in the public vote tech award category, netting $980.79 for their project.