Archive for the 'IDEAS2010' Category

Connecting NGOs Looking for Employees with Haitians Looking for Employment

Earlier this year, in response to the earthquake in Haiti, the MIT Media Lab hosted a class to encourage and elicit MIT response and help for disaster relief. Out of that class, came Konbit, created by Aaron Zinman and Greg Elliott. Konbit was designed to index the skills of Haitians, whether literate or illiterate, and translate them to be searchable by NGOs recruiting employees.

After months of testing and organizing, Konbit has launched!

If you have a friends and family in Haiti, ask they to dial 5656 to use the system for free.

If you speak Haitian Creole and would like to help, Konbit could use your help transcribing and translating. You can help here: http://konbit.media.mit.edu/translate.

Here’s Aaron and Greg speaking about the origins of Konbit and the need it serves:

Meet IDEAS10 Winners!

Thanks to summer intern Stephen Kaliski for this brisk introduction to some of the people and ideas behind this year’s winning IDEAS teams. Kudos all!

MIT IDEAS Participants from MIT Global Challenge on Vimeo.

Turn Your Smartphone Into an Optometrist

Remember sitting in front of that hulking, weird Hardware-like device as a kid, the nose of your optometrist inches away as you both peered through the phoropter? A group at MIT might be changing all that – at least for some folks in resource-strapped communities where a $2500 piece of diagnostic equipment and maintenance is beyond their capacity. With the introduction of a new device developed my researchers in MIT’s Camera Culture group in the Media Lab, the phoroptor may be headed the way of the oviraptor.

Dubbed PerfectSight, a 2010 IDEAS winner profiled today by MIT’s News Office (with a splashy home page spotlight!),  the Smartphone attachment is able to detect a range of refractive eye disorders within seconds. This turns the traditional model of optometry on its head: now eye specialists can get out of the costly eye care centers and into field, creating greater access to care, potentially revolutionizing the number of diagnoses carried out on any given day.

Learn more about the device and the Camera Culture group.

IDEAS2010 winners retreat reflections

IDEAS held its annual winners retreat May 25-26 at the always welcoming and excellent MIT Endicott House in Dedham. Over the course of two days, participants were asked to work with their team members and fellow winners to plan their next year of work, with an eye toward long-term impacts.

Although we didn’t get around to some of the more adventurous options like firewalking and gravity-less flight we had a great time interacting across discussions and activities like:

  • Project roadmap: plan the ultimate outcomes you envision for your project, and wrap around each the objectives, activities, resources, and timeline necessary to achieve those goals. Laura Sampath, International Development Initiative manager and Daphne Dhao, MIT alum and superstar IDEAS volunteer, led great discussions and workshops that privided practical tools for project planning, including a discussion of “Asking the right questions.”

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Winners of the 9th Annual MIT IDEAS Competition

Graduate students Aaron Zinman and Greg Elliott at the IDEAS Competition Project Display and Judging Session. Photo: Aditi Verma

Graduate students Aaron Zinman and Greg Elliott at the IDEAS Competition Project Display and Judging Session. Photo: Aditi Verma

The ninth annual MIT IDEAS Competition celebrated student achievement on Monday evening, May 3, at MIT’s Raymond and Maria Stata Center. Seven student teams received IDEAS awards to implement their projects over the next year. IDEAS — which stands for Innovation, Development, Enterprise, Action and Service — recognizes student teams that have developed outstanding projects that apply invention as a public service. Each award, funded by a corporate or individual sponsor, will enable a team to develop their prototype into a working solution in collaboration with community partners around the world.

The awards, presented by a selection of MIT staff and sponsors, went to the following teams:

Konbit was awarded the $8,000 IDEAS Award sponsored by the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education. Team members Greg Elliott and Aaron Zinman designed a service via phone, Short Message Service (SMS), and web that helps communities rebuild themselves after a crisis by indexing the skill sets of local residents, and allowing NGOs to find and employ them.

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