Many older adults and adults with disabilities struggle every day to live comfortably in this ever-changing world – a world that is often not designed to accommodate their highly specialized needs. The widely watched televised version of "Shark Tank" is a platform for inventors of all ages to submit innovative, marketable product ideas that will successfully cater to today’s popular culture. This contest opportunity seeks young innovators who will take up the challenge of designing practical products and applications that older adults and adults with disabilities can independently operate to make the world more user-friendly.
Students are encouraged to be innovative and creative. Potential projects may be either a mobile app, web service, robotic, assistive device or any combination. The project should seek to address a need in at least one of the categories listed below (but not limited to the suggestions listed in each category):
Health and Recreation: Promote "healthy aging/lifestyle," e.g., encourage physical activity, continued engagement in recreation and leisure activities, good nutrition, monitor health status, provide intellectual stimulation, chronic disease self- management, mobility.
Safety: Enhance physical safety, e.g., address fall risk concerns, communicate with caregivers/family/friends, food safety, monitor health risks.
Caregiving: Support family caregivers in managing their caregiving role, e.g., monitoring older adult health status, medication management, nutritional status, and/or facilitate remote communication.
Some Examples to Start the Thought Process:
A robot that retrieves dropped items or plays cards when operated remotely by a family member or friend;
A device that can make it easier to climb up and down stairs; an app that allows an older adult or person with disabilities to navigate outdoor sidewalks without tripping;
A 3D printed tool that can assist an individual with restricted movement capabilities; a prosthetic device to act in place of a missing limb or finger.
Having a means to take care of everyday needs at home or the community is only the beginning. They, just like you, may also want to create, paint, play cards, play sports, and communicate with friends/family near and far. Students are encouraged to talk to family members, caregivers, older adults and those with disabilities, and to observe the real life problems these individuals face every day in their homes and in their communities, and then to explore the endless possibilities of real life solutions.
Finalists in each category will be selected to present their product to a "Shark Tank" panel. Panelists will consist of experts from the fields of education, technology, aging and health care. The winning projects will receive a cash prize and the projects may be considered for potential development. All Finalists in each category will be given an opportunity to demonstrate their products in the spring of 2020.
The innovation will be judged on the following merits:
Maximizes independent use by the older adult and/or the person with disabilities, minimizes the need for coaching
Simplicity of design and use, non-threatening and easy to understand and use.
Meets the objectives of the category.
Demonstrates an understanding of the challenges faced by older adults and/or people with disabilities using technology.
Demonstrates evidence of market demand.
Demonstrates positive impact on the lives of those with disabilities and/or older adults.
TIP: Finalists chosen to go into the "Shark Tank" should be prepared to not only demonstrate how the innovation meets each of the 6 merits listed above, but also to document what research was performed, pilot- testing done, and the impact on the audience for which the innovation is intended.
Project Summary (approximately 3-4 pages) – completed on the Final Project Submission form.
Video, 3-5 minutes in duration, describing project and how to use (using only original graphic and audio/video components). Include on the Final Project Submission form as a link.
Video, 3–5 minutes in duration, demonstrating successful use by the target audience (using only original graphic and audio/video components). Include on the Final Project Submission form as a link.
Actual software or link to software, if possible.
If you are running into barriers preventing you from participating or completing your project, please email Tech Challenge.
The Tech Challenge Resources page of the Tech Challenge Packet will answer your questions and support you in the development of your project. We may be able to assist with equipment challenges, technical questions, access to older adults and caregivers and/or background information (e.g. how Parkinson’s disease affects mobility).
For additional information or questions, interested students and teachers may email Tech Challenge.
It is highly recommended that you test your ideas and finished project with your target audience. For assistance in locating prospective target audiences, please consult the Tech Challenge Resources page of the "Shark Tank" Challenge Packet or email Tech Challenge.
Optional: Have you checked out filing a provisional patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office before submitting your innovation to this challenge?
Get ready for the Fairfax Area Student "Shark Tank" Technology Challenge!
The Tech Challenge also supports Fairfax County's Economic Success Plan that seeks to grow and diversify the economy through innovation, social equity and expanding science, technology, engineering and math education.