Category Winners at Coolest Projects North America

Hundreds of people attended our first-ever Coolest Projects North America on Sunday, 23 September at Discovery Cube Orange County on, to be inspired by more than 100 young people who presented fantastic projects across five categories: Scratch, Websites, Games & Web Games, Mobile Apps, and Hardware. Throughout the day, the young entrepreneurs and innovators talked what they had created to each other, to the visitors, and to our expert panel of judges, making them feel enthusiastic and excited about the future of technology. After careful deliberation, the judges awarded prizes in the five categories as follows:

Scratch

Scratch is a visual programming language with a simple interface that lets children learn the logic of coding and, with time, enables them to develop complex quite projects.

Mark Boudreau was named the winner in the Scratch category for his game ‘In the woods’! Mark has been learning to build games in Scratch for the last six years. He’s coded roughly a hundred games, half of which he has fully completed! He said about his project:

“The object of the game is to survive as long as possible. The game monitors three features while you are in the wild: health, hunger, and thirst. If one of these runs out, you die in the game and your turn is over. At night, you also run the risk of encountering enemies that attack your health. In order to survive, you want to collect items in the game that will replenish these features. For example, you need to find a fishing pole, string, and bait in order to fish. Once you have caught a fish, your hunger is filled.”

The day of Coolest Projects North America was also Mark’s birthday, so happy birthday, Mark!

Games & Web Games

Donggun Kwak, Davin Jeong, and Julian Ha, were named the winners in the Games & Web Games category sponsored by Blizzard Entertainment. They developed their project ‘PuffBot’ through their research of bots in online games, with the aim to help game creators remove bots from their games. To find out how to determine whether a character in a game is being played by a human or is a bot, they studied the actions of game bots and compared their movements, control combinations, and use of speed to that of human players.

As part of this, they developed their own bot that can play Super Smash Bros. It plays the Jigglypuff character, hence its name PuffBot. The team’s bot can fight and beat a CPU at difficulty 9, if not actual players.

Donggun, Davin, and Julian each worked on different aspects the project: the research, developing the bot, and managing the overall project. The judges of the category from Blizzard Entertainment felt this project was revolutionary for the games industry! The boys were delighted with the win and are planning to develop their project further.

Websites

In this category, Hana and Miya Stauss, along with Jack Sun, Jeff Guo, and Jason Yu won with their website Peer Genius (peergenius.io). Described as “the Uber for tutors”, the site provides live peer-to-peer tutoring services for underserved minorities, all with the help of 21st century technology: the team’s project uses cutting-edge development frameworks, including WebRTC-based video chatting, socket.io-based matching, text chat and image chat systems, RetinaNet, and LSTM-based deep learning models for highly scalable identity and age verification, and advanced matching algorithms!

They currently have the site live and are working on promoting it across the state. Co-founders of the project (and twins) Hana and Miya are passionate about youth education and about giving back.

Mobile Apps

The app which was named as the winning project in this category is called ‘Virtual Chat’. It was developed by Krishnanshu Gupta and Agustya Chamarthy. They said about their project:

“[It’s] a communication application that allows users to contact others and experience the world around their acquaintances through the use of virtual reality. The user will wear a set of VR glasses made with cardboard and film (or a professional, closed-glass headset) and experience the other user’s environment. This application is useful for times when one cannot make a business meeting but would want to be there. Or for watching a FIFA match at home but feeling like you are at the stadium!”

The duo built their app using Java coupled with the Android Studio IDE, and aim to make it available for Android smartphones. Krishnanshu and Agustya are planning to develop the application further, and to possibly also create an iOS version.

Hardware

There was such a high calibre of projects across all categories, and the diversity and quality of hardware projects on show resulted in the judges naming joint winners in this category! Parisa Khashayar was named joint winner for her ‘BlazeRunner’ project. Parisa, who has attended a Raspberry Jam in the past, told us this about her project:

“BlazeRunner is an IoT wearable that monitors firefighters’ health and environmental conditions in real time and communicates to a base station via cellular technology.”

She had the initial idea in October last year after she read how firefighters dealing with wildfires in California were dying as a result of over-exertion and exhaustion as opposed to injuries sustained in action. Parisa developed two prototypes of the project, and to include the necessary sensors to determine when a firefighter is reaching their limit, she talked to her local fire department about the situations firefighters face and what the most important vitals to measure are.

Parisa’s aims for the future are to reduce the size of the prototypes so that they fit on a wristband, and to then get these trialed by firefighters in training to tweak her project for real-life situations.

Prastik Mohanraj was the other joint winner in the hardware category with his project ‘Fesentience’. Prastik developed this project with his friends and presented the project on the team’s behalf. Fesentience aims to help newborn infants with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome and related issues. These occur when a fetus in the womb gains chemical addiction from the mother, which can lead to premature delivery and developmental deficits that can ultimately cause severe, life-long impairments or even death. Prastik told us:

“For such infants, a critical factor to sustain bodily and cognitive development is continued attachment with the mother, but this simply is not always possible — legally or physically. To combat this, Fesentience designs a novel incubator device employing biomimicry to simulate the maternal womb and its essential biological systems, including the haptic sense of touch and the sense of thermal heat. By programming a Raspberry Pi computer, the product would be customized to mimic a particular mother precisely, so that the infant feels as though their own mother is with them. By encouraging proper development through this device, Fesentience allows these infants to grow and live healthy lives.”

How are Prastik and the team going to develop the project further? Their aim is to refine the technology so that the hardware and controls can be contained within an incubator, and they’ve already created initial designs for the incubator in Tinkercad.

Congratulations to all the winners, and massive kudos to all the participants!

Next year’s Coolest Projects!

At the end of the awards ceremony, we announced the date of Coolest Projects North America 2019: Saturday 23 March. Save the date and start working on your next idea ahead of project registrations opening in the coming months!

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Special thanks to the event sponsors Broadcom Foundation and Blizzard Entertainment, as well as CanaKit and Discovery Cube Orange County. Thanks to those who supported the event by donating items for participants goodie bags, including Adafruit, pi-top, Raspberry Pi Trading Ltd., and Newark element14. If you are interested in supporting future Coolest Projects events, email: partners[email protected]