StreetSmart Concept Wins Mobility Challenge | Net Impact

StreetSmart Concept Wins Mobility Challenge

Team StreetSmart from the Next Generation Mobility Challenge at Babson College
Team StreetSmart from the Next Generation Mobility Challenge at Babson College

For as long as we remember, society has sought to use the power of technology to improve lives. But how can we ensure innovation and expertise helps people from all walks of life? StreetSmart is a concept for an app that aims to do just that. Conceived by a group of students, the app concept would help people with visual impairments navigate surroundings with greater confidence. And today, StreetSmart has been announced as the winning team for the Next Generation Mobility Challenge.

What is the Next Generation Mobility Challenge?

Net Impact partnered with Toyota to launch the Next Generation Mobility Challenge in 2015 with the aim to inspire millennials to generate solutions for critical mobility needs.

“Transportation and mobility are closely tied to sustainability and social impact,” says Lily Mathews, manager of the program at Net Impact. “By tapping into the ingenuity of students, the Challenge promoted breakthrough ideas aimed at improving communities and our environment.”

“We know that the smartest solutions to our most pressing mobility challenges will only be found if we keep reaching out for new ideas and fresh thinking. That’s why we wanted to call on millennials, who are known for their passion for making the world a better place,” said Latondra Newton, Chief Program Officer, Toyota Mobility Foundation. “We love the StreetSmart concept because it builds on our work to help communities with limited mobility do more so they can go more place and live better lives.”

 Over the course of six months, students competed across the country to generate solutions for mobility issues focused on community, connectivity and sustainability. In total, nearly 670 students from 60 colleges and universities across the country pitched 150+ ideas. 

The winning team

A panel of judges from Toyota’s Mobility Foundation and Net Impact selected StreetSmart from three finalist teams, based on the clarity of its goal, project design, social impact, feasibility, creativity and the results of a public vote (StreetSmart garnered 63.6% of the vote). Esther Kim (Rhode Island School of Design), John Mathai (Olin College), Ayush Singhal (Babson College) and Niklaus Sugiri (Babson College) are the students behind the winning concept.  

Activated by voice command, the StreetSmart app would provide users with audio alerts about upcoming hazards or changes to their commute, such as broken escalators, bus service changes and construction sites. It would rely on existing GPS location services, crowdsourcing traffic technologies and real-time updates from users on routes’ conditions. The team envisions that the app would work in tandem with Project BLAID, a wearable device in development by Toyota that also works to improve the mobility of people who are blind and visually impaired.  For a preview of Project BLAID, visit TheToyotaEffect.com

The winning team has been offered internships to delve into a deeper understanding of the mobility needs of the blind community, building the business case for the StreetSmart app and supporting Toyota’s Partner Robotics work to advance the freedom of mobility for all. Along with the other two finalist teams, StreetSmart’s team will also attend the 2016 Net Impact Conference in Philadelphia this November.

How can you get involved?

Register for the 2016 Net Impact Conference to see the winning teams in action and learn more about the issues around transportation. Visit our Impact Transportation and Mobility page to stay up to date with current and future initiatives and more ways to stay involved.