Spark 2011 winners announced

20 October 2011

A novel way to create 3D models from 2D photographs has won ClickWorld first prize in the 2011 Spark $100K Challenge run by The University of Auckland Business School.

The idea, developed by five academics, students and alumni of the University, topped an impressive group of entries in the student-run competition this year. In second place was interactive assistive solution Thought-Wired, and traffic flow assistant Da Vinci was third.

Spark 2011 chief executive Shaun Tan says this year’s 11 qualifiers were all top quality, and it was a difficult decision for the selection committee to hone the list down to three.

“In the end, ClickWorld impressed us the most as a viable commercial product, and we are confident that the business will make the most of the $25,000 seed capital and six months of incubation at The ICEHOUSE to take its ideas global.”

ClickWorld developed the technology after recognising that an increasing amount of applications required 3D representations for uses such as training, e-commerce, education, computer games, virtual environments, documentation, exchanging information and social networking applications, ClickWorld’s Burkhard Wuensche says.

“Until now, it has been difficult for consumers without special hardware, software and skills to create 3D content. We’ve developed a novel technology that makes the creation of 3D models as easy as taking photos,” he says.

“In contrast with alternative technologies such as laser scanners, structured lighting and sets of calibrated cameras, all customers will now need is an off-the-shelf handheld digital camera or even a mobile phone camera. The resulting interactive 3D models can be integrated into Microsoft and PDF documents, web pages and traditional computer graphics applications.”

ClickWorld also won the $5,000 UniServices Commercialisation Prize.

Second prize-getter Thought-Wired – which won $15,000 in seed capital, three months of incubation at The ICEHOUSE and a $5,000 Judges’ Special Prize – has developed an integrated assistive solution that will free those who are bound by physical disabilities, allowing them to live independent and enjoyable lives.

“Our solution enables users to interact not only with other people but also with objects and devices in their environment,” Thought-Wired’s Dmitry Selitskiy says.

“This is achieved by commanding the system using natural modes of interactions such as speech, facial expressions, eye movement and even pure thoughts.”

Third-prizegetter Da Vinci – which won three months of incubation at The ICEHOUSE – has developed a software product which works with existing traffic infrastructure and software to minimise waiting time for vehicles at intersections using mathematical equations.

Spokesman Urie Bezuidenhout says the software can be used in New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia and other regions of the world able to adapt with traffic software systems.

“Using this software has direct socio-economic benefits in terms of reduced fuel usage and cost savings, decrease in travel time and greenhouse gas emissions as well as decreased vehicle operating costs,” Urie says.

The Spark $100K Challenge is New Zealand’s premier business plan competition. With more than $100,000 worth of prizes, mentoring and networks, the $100K Challenge is designed as a launch pad for students and staff from all disciplines at The University of Auckland to transform their ideas into a real business.