Top Teams from Toyota's Next Generation Mobility Challenge Event Series | Net Impact

Top Teams from Toyota's Next Generation Mobility Challenge Event Series

Students at Northwestern's Next Generation Mobility Challenge get expert advice
Students at Northwestern's Next Generation Mobility Challenge get expert advice

This school year we partnered with Toyota to launch the Next Generation Mobility Challenge Event series. Teams of students at 15 campuses across the U.S. collaborated locally with other participants and competed nationally to generate solutions for mobility issues surrounding one of the following themes: community, connectivity or sustainability.

Now the top teams from each event have submitted their digital pitches to the panel of judges from Toyota and Net Impact. The three finalists will then be connected with Toyota mentors to refine their pitch further and all three teams will secure an all-expense paid trip to the 2016 Net Impact Confenence in Philadelphia.  Toyota's mobility experts and the public will vote for the top team.  The winner, announced May 8th, will be considered to receive a grant from the Toyota Mobility Foundation (TMF), as well as get the opportunity to develop their idea further through a summer internship with Toyota’s mobility innovation partners. 

Here are the 15 semi-finalist teams and their ideas:

University of Michigan

Winning Team: Anqi Sun (University of Michigan), Allison Winnik (University of Michigan), and Anna Norman (University of Michigan)

Winning Idea: The team proposed a solution that would integrate installed technology into personal vehicles to enable commuters to share skills, expertise, and conversation while they travel. Rather than commuting solo, people could engage in language exchanges, book club discussions, or conversations about their local sports team. 

University of Washington

Winning Team: Bonnie Tran (University of Washington), David Meers (University of Washington), Fang-Ju Chou (University of Washington), and Caroline Engle (University of Washington)

Winning Idea: Commutity -- an app that helps tackle social isolation during the commute by allowing users to learn about their community, win points that demonstrate their knowledge, and fill out an experience map as they progress. The three modes of the app -- "Learn", "Quiz" and "My Map" allow the user to populate a virtual map around them that promotes in-person interactions with businesses. 

University of California - Berkeley

Winning Team: CJ Dubash (U.C. Berkeley), Jelani Bertoni (Dominican University), and Maggie Ford (Stanford University)

Winning Idea:  Eargo -- a product that primarily serves users with visual impairments. This small, hearing-aid sized headpiece includes a 180-degree camera that gives a combination of vibrating and auditory signals.The device include both a "destination" and "explore" mode to offer visually-impaired users the chance to stumble upon new and exciting attractions in their area.

Emory University

Winning Team: Mubeen Ahmad (Georgia Institute of Technology), Julia Lee (Emory University), Susan Elliot (Emory University), and Alex Shapiro (Georgia Institute of Technology)

Winning Idea: The Sherpa -- a location-based app and glasses unit for theose with visual impairments -- is a program that pulls together 3-D maps of different buildings and institutions to find GPS coordinates of destinations.  

New York University

Winning Team: Alexandra Letellier (Parsons School of Design), Clair Chun (Parsons School of Design), Paul Coronado (New York University), and Paras Doshi (New York University)

Winning Idea: Toyota Thrive -- a Toyota-sponsored destination point that allows users, with a membership, to check out different transit options (skateboard, bike, short-distance driving). The kiosk prints out directions, or syncs with a mobile device. The program also helps integrate users who lack the resources to get started. Members can trade in services for "points" using a local community fair to meet and exchange those skills. 

Georgetown University

Winning Team: Aris Morrison (University of Disctrict of Columbia), Emmanuel Balogun (Howard University), Si Chen (George Washington University), and Soundarya Venkatesh (Georgetown University)

Winning Idea: The Bus Buzzer is simple: it works like a food buzzer at a restaurant, but helps increase mobility for elderly or other users with impairments. As the bus approaches,users enter their destination on the screen on the bus. The driver hands them the buzzer. A minute or two before their stop approaches the buzzer starts vibrating. It repurposes an existing technology for a new context. 

Johns Hopkins University

Winning Team: Charles Gulian (Johns Hopkins University), Christopher Schilder (Johns Hopkins University), Mehr Pastakia (Johns Hopkins University), and Mayriam Robles Garcia (Johns Hopkins University)

Winning Idea: There will be 83 million people over 65 living in the US. HearIGo is a solution that leverages technology that elderly folks already use –  cane and hearing aid. It integrates Google Maps and GPS, simplifies payment methods by automatically paying his fare, and connects users to a safety method like life alert monitoring safety. 

California Polytechnic State University

Winning Team: Brett Wittmuss (Cal Poly SLO), Emily Foley (Cal Poly SLO), David Xenakis, (Cal Poly SLO), Lara Sly (Cal Poly SLO), and Tomy Tran (Cal Poly SLO) 

Winning Idea: Bus Buddy is a kiosk system located at bus stops to help overcome hurdles for those with physical impairments. The kiosk allows the user to type in a destination, and prints out instructions for you. It also lets you pick up a device that informs you when the bus arrives. When complete, there's a receptacle on the bus to return the device. It doesn't rely on a cell phone, and keeps it low tech for the users who need it most. 

Duke University

Winning Team: Jonathan Tan (University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill), Jasmine Tan (Duke University), Paulin Grieb (Duke University), Naiwen Wong (Duke University), and Mike Papakonstantinou (Duke University)

Winning Idea: Ride Along Max (RAM) -- helps plan everyday movement for elder populations through prepared trips that help users  engage in city life and in activities with younger generations. Each trip starts at home with the user visiting the RAM website wit prepared trips. Then, a RAM shuttle takes the user to where he wants to go and connects him to people who are also going on this trip.

Babson College

Winning Team: Ayush Singhal (Babson College), Gahyun Kim (Rhode Island School of Design), John Mathai (Rhode Island School of Design), and Niklaus Sugiri (Babson College)

Winning Idea: StreetSmart -- a program that provides integrated real time community based updates into sidewalks to help people who are visually impaired. The solution would use the same principles as Waze. The app updates based on what individuals see on the street (traffic, accidents, construction, congestion, etc.)- and would improve upon itself with more updates from everyday people. It would leveraging existing technology like Google Maps and would allow people with disabilities to better navigate and feel comfortable and safe in their commute.

University of Oregon

Winning Team: Carolyn Taclas (University of Oregon), Keala Verigan (Oregon State University), Sydney Quinton-Cox (University of Oregon), and James Greisen (University of Oregon)

Winning Idea: This branded Portable Community Center builds off the thrill of community and connection at food truck block parties. The mobile truck will travel on a set schedule and use park 'n ride lots and bus stations as a host for different activities and events that will perk up the waiting time and what happens before and after commuting. The community center offerings could include food, activities, outdoor excercise space and could be easily tailored to users' needs based upon feedback. It's also a low-investment option that could test out the success of this format.

Northwestern University

Winning Team: Enrique Ferrero (Northwestern University), Maria McKiever (Northwestern University), Shangyanyan Li (University of Illinois at Chicago), and Szymon Gluc (Northwestern University)

Winning Idea: Alfred -- a solution that is about turning the personal vehicle into a personal assistant. It's a regular car with special features that leverages technology that already exists -- the car would turn on an Access Point to alert interested parties that the car could be selling services or products. Car is not just sitting around, it is getting things done while the user is doing other things. Additionally, the car helps sync your life with travel -- if you input where you're going, the car will calculate the shortest possible distance. 

Vanderbilt University

Winning Team: John Booker (Vanderbilt University), Jonathan Tari (Vanderbilt University), Joseph Hechter (Belmont University), Shaquille Blake (Fisk University), and Jacob Sheffield (Lipscomb University)

Winning Idea: Refugee Mobility Program -- this program  connects refugees with each other and carpool services. Refugees will go through a driving program, eventually get permits, drive around more and get a chance to get driver’s license while building a community. Drivers are given access to a vehicle and all they have to do is keep up credits. They can purchase their own vehicle and fully immerse in a new culture while building up credits.

Carnegie Mellon University


Winning Team: Nikhil Sridhar Rangar (Carnegie Mellon University), Swati Rajendran (Carnegie Mellon University), William Kurniawan (Carnegie Mellon University), and Yunzhe Zhang (Carnegie Mellon Univeristy)

Winning Idea: Smart Cycle -- a modular system (device and helmet) that transforms bicycles. It allows children to travel independently while building their social lives and reassuring parents. A few features of the device, which attaches onto bicycle handlebar, when the biker signals right, it connects to helmet and turns a signal on back of the helmet. it also includes an SOS signal to connect to parent and authorities. The system only works when the helmet is on, promoting safety. 

University of Texas - Austin

Winning Team: Armando Perez (U.T. - San Antonio), Joel Weber (U.T. - Austin), Laura Walker (Texas A&M), and John Adamo (U.T. - Austin)

Winning Idea: ‚ÄčAble -- a high tech vehicle that integrates mobility assistance devices with standard personal transportation options. It is a customizable vehicle within a vehicle that makes the elderly or others with mobility issues feel more agile and comfortable. The smaller vehicles would take principles from technology like the Roomba to learn the layout of drivers’ personal spaces, while easily linking with car bodies.  It could be personally owned or owned by companies or hospitals, and allows elderly to feel more independent in their daily activities.