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Epson Innovation Challenge #1

One week of creativity and passion, crafting viable solutions to help people in our communities using Epson Connect™ API for cloud printing and scanning.


Overview of Article

 
  • Epson was hosting it’s first U.S. based hackathon - The Epson Innovation Challenge #1 - to promote the secure cloud service Epson Connect™

 
  • The hybrid event was specifically focusing on assistive technology to enhance communication and collaboration to help people in our communities

 
  • This article reviews the hackathon and highlights the incredible solutions of the winning teams that were according to Nils Madden, Director of Product Management Epson America Inc. “an eye-opener to look also into other fields of how printers and scanners could be used in our society

 

Epson America, Inc. and Foundry 415 Innovation Group (hackathon operator) hosted the first U.S.-based “Epson Innovation Challenge,” a one-week hybrid “hackathon” series, held in San Francisco, San Jose and remotely from April 13-20, 2023.


The event challenged innovators to develop solutions based on current or new customer needs for Epson printer and scanner products to enhance communication, collaboration, and user experience. Developers should leverage the Epson Connect™ API to create ideas that achieve one or more of these outcomes with a focus on assistive technology:

  • Simplify and enhance information sharing and collaboration

  • Improve usability and functionality of Epson print/scan products

  • Promote equal opportunities for all people to enjoy content displayed on the printed page without constraint


Since 2019, Epson has been actively engaging with the startup community through “HackTrek” hackathons in Japan and global strategic programs to uncover emerging technologies, trends and cutting-edge technology startups.


“Epson is known for its precision hardware products. We’re a leader with over tens of millions sold printers and scanners which spread to more than 150 countries. Our goal is to provide an attractive platform for innovative partners to develop new solutions and user experiences on top of Epson’s print and scan products that will foster communication and collaboration while utilizing the Epson Connect API.” said Junkichi Yoshida, COO, Epson Printing Solutions.


The Epson Innovation Challenge Committee selected eight strong applicant teams to join the hackathon, which submitted creative ideas focused on the challenge statement. Each team received a multifunction Epson EcoTank printer to develop their MVP (Minimum Viable Product) demo while integrating with the Epson Connect™ API.


During the one-week Challenge, teams could also participate in several insightful workshops from Foundry 415 such as How to Rapidly Design and Launch Experiments, to help with validating their ideas and How to Create Effective Project Pitch Presentations to prepare them for their Demo Day pitches. All contestants also had access to mentors from Epson’s Digital Innovation team to be able to rapidly integrate with the Epson Connect™ API, the cloud print and scan service for Epson printers.


The Demo Day took place on April 20th, 2023 as a hybrid event at Galvanize in San Francisco with team members pitching in person or remote, calling in from across the U.S. - from the West to the East Coast. Sandra Miller, CEO of Foundry 415 Innovation Group moderated the Demo Pitches including live feedback from a fantastic jury.



Jury members of the Epson Innovation Challenge #1

The jury members were very impressed with the originality and quality of the Epson Innovation Challenge #1 participating teams' submissions and are excited to see how the presented solutions will be further developed to help to drive positive change in our communities. Nils Madden, Director of Product Management Epson America Inc., mentioned: “The exposure to assistive tech was an eye-opener to look also into other fields of how printers and scanners could be used in our society.” The participants then developed a range of solutions addressing the needs of users with speech impediments and neurodegenerative diseases. Participants showcased how their solutions, combined with Epson’s cloud printing technology, could benefit traditionally overlooked user groups such as senior communities and students with neurodevelopmental conditions.


Epson awarded each of the top 3 winning teams with one Epson EF12 projector, along with cash prizes based on rank:


1st Prize: $5,000, 2nd Prize: $2,000 and 3rd Prize: $1,000


1st Place

Voiceitt - Speech recognition software designed to offer voice accessibility systems for individuals with non-standard speech.



Challenge MVP Idea:

Voice enabled printing for users with non-standard speech through the Voiceitt mobile application

  • The technology solution was primarily applied to voice enabled printing. The Voiceitt team presented a demo showcasing the Voiceitt application enabling voice interaction with Epson Connect via mobile phone.

  • Users with non-standard speech could send commands from Voiceitt Mobile App to the printer.

  • This solution enables voice enabled printing and scanning to be accessible for people with speech and motor disabilities by integrating the mobile application with Epson Connect API.


Sarah Smolly, Co-Founder of Voiceitt stated: “Participating in the Epson Innovation Challenge provided Voiceitt with a valuable opportunity to engage directly with the Epson team. Voiceitt's speech recognition software offers individuals with non-standard speech the ability to access Voice AI systems. Through the Challenge, we proposed a meaningful collaboration to develop a solution for workplace inclusivity, specifically for individuals with speech and motor disabilities, by integrating the Voiceitt mobile app with Epson Connect API, enabling voice-enabled printing and scanning. We look forward to exploring further how we can combine Voiceitt's cutting-edge technology with Epson's expertise in printing and imaging to create a more inclusive workplace environment.” [add team provided photo]


2nd Place

Fly Parrots - Smart Devices that assist people with neurodegenerative and neurological disorders.





Challenge MVP Idea:

Print medical reports directly from doctors through a telemedicine interface by leveraging an AI-based assistive robot

  • The solution looks to integrate Epson Connect API with the company’s AI-based assistive robots

  • The targeted use case was for individuals with severe motor disabilities (i.e Cerebral palsy, Muscular dystrophy, Multiple sclerosis, etc.) to be able to print medical reports directly from doctors through a telemedicine interface.

  • For example, as these users go through telehealth consultations, their doctors will be able to print or scan medical reports for them through the Epson Connect API.


3rd Place

Key2Enable - Speech recognition software designed to offer voice accessibility systems for individuals with non-standard speech.



Challenge MVP Idea:

Navigating printer’s display with gyroscopic head movement navigation device

  • The team developed a USB plugin BLE sensor to connect with a gyroscopic head movement navigation device to control functionalities on personal computers or laptops.

  • Establishing a wireless connection and enabling users to navigate the printer's display without using their hands. Providing a more inclusive and accessible printing experience for individuals with disabilities

  • The solution is intuitive to use and requires minimal calibration once integrated with the printer.


“We at Key2enable strive to make technology accessible to individuals with disabilities,” said Jose Rubinger, Co-Founder of Key2enable. “Recently, we showcased our latest innovation at the Epson Innovation Challenge - Colibri, a gyroscopic Bluetooth sensor that mounts in an eyeglass frame and enables persons with no movement neck down to operate and navigate a computer, tablet or smartphone by head movement or face gestures. This technology allows users to control functionalities on Epson printer and scanner menus with ease!”


“We are confident that this hackathon series will help drive awareness of our Epson Connect cloud service in the developer community and showcase how you can enrich lives within just one week,” said Jack Rieger, Director, Digital Innovation, Epson America, Inc. “One good example is assistive voice-enabled printing. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, approximately 7.5 million people in the US have a speech disability. This includes people with stuttering, apraxia, dysarthria, and other speech disorders. Providing solutions with the help of voice accessibility systems such as from Voiceitt will help us create a better world.”


We are looking forward to the Epson Innovation Challenge #2 in July, 2023 which is an exciting opportunity for creative developers and teams to showcase their skills and develop innovative solutions to real-world challenges. For the #2 Challenge, we will be focusing more on solutions that go beyond simple printing and scanning capabilities by utilizing the Epson Connect API. Epson will be looking for ideas that creatively combine scanning, data processing, and printing to address untapped opportunities.


Applications are open now through July 5th. Interested developers can find more information about the Challenge on the event landing page and can already register for an Epson Connect™ account.




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