TIRO is a hotline management system designed to give small NGOs serving vulnerable clients in China better record-keeping and reporting capabilities, ultimately improving the efficiency and sustainability of their services to create greater impact. TIRO’s approach is to equip NGOs that operate hotlines with better, lower-cost tools for record-keeping and report-making. Because phone-based consultations remain the most integral part of labor NGOs’ operations, the team is developing a mobile phone application to manage information that surfaces through their hotlines. The solution is based on an Android app that hotline operators can use to log conversation content and retrieve call details. An accompanied web application will permit NGOs to generate reports featuring demographic, caller relationship, and service provisioning metrics.



OhMyCause! is a web platform that connects people with causes and non-profits. It is a one-stop shop that presents the curated information and stories about causes, who is doing what and where and match individuals to projects with non-profits that best suit their passions, skills and other preferences. It aims to redefine the world of philanthropy by making caring for causes a usual and personalized activity integrated into people’s lifestyles. The platform’s key foundations are personalization, integration with existing media platforms, and identifying actionable avenues.

Aqua Power: Feed Forward to a Secure Water Future

Water is a precious resource and is vital for all forms of life. In California, 34% of all non-farm use water is used for residential purposes, of which 40% is used in showers, baths and in faucets. Aqua Power aims to address these water shortage challenges by developing an easy to install, low cost device that will provide real time information on the quantity of water used, track cumulative water used per day with the ability to set water saving goals, compare performance with neighbors, and track progress in a social setting. The product aims to achieve water use reduction using a combination of technology and social engineering, and is based on the concept that providing instantaneous feedback is the most effective change agent.


Millions of people with physical disabilities lack control of their bodies but still can control their minds. Recent advancements in Brain-Computer Interfacing (BCI) have enabled people with physical disabilities to drive wheelchairs, write, and communicate. The BCAPI team is developing a powerful software and hardware package that will enable technology developers and researchers to create a range of BCI-enabled assistive technologies. Through extensive and research in the field, the team has identified the key problems that limit BCI assistive technology development and has made significant progress in addressing these issues.

MMS Assisted Reading System

In Malawi, “boys outnumber the girls in school attendance by a 6:1 ratio” even though primary education is free. At the same time, recent Malawian communities have seen mobile phones dramatically increase in usage. This project aims to leverage this technology to help young girls increase their literacy skills. An MMS Assisted Reading System will aid girls in educating themselves through text messages from home by delivering short story interactive lessons. Once the MMS Assisted Reading System is created, the second part of the project will be beta testing with a group on 15 Malawian girls during a three-week trial. Thereinafter, the data and feedback from this trial will serve to improve the system. The creation and trial implementation will help overcome the gender-based barriers that girls face in Malawian communities in attaining a literacy education since the MMS system will provide an alternative delivery of textual, visual, and audio reading content that can also be based on grade level or progress. By addressing the illiteracy issues in this way, young girls will have more chances at succeeding professionally, attaining higher wages, and being able to support their families.
(Note: This project originally won in the Big Ideas “Mobiles for Reading” category)


While many developing countries have come a long way in increasing literacy rates, certain populations, like children in rural India, are still struggling with low literacy rates. By leveraging the power of local experiences and knowledge, Padhne.De aims to increase literacy rates through a peer-based mobile platform. Padhne.De takes an existing interactive voice response model for community communication and allows older students to record short readings and micro-lesson plans. This learning system enhances children’s reading capabilities by complementing children’s existing modes of instruction, like teachers, tutors, and textbooks. Not only will households benefit by having a program flexible with their time schedule, but they will also appreciate receiving lessons more relevant to their native tongue. Building on team-members’ existing research projects in rural India, Padhne.De seeks to implement a pilot project over the course of the Indian academic year.
(Note: This project originally won in the Big Ideas “Mobiles for Reading” category)

Piezoelectric Shoe Sole GPS Tracker

Piezoelectric Shoe Sole GPS Tracker (UC Berkeley)In an effort to fight child trafficking in developing countries, Piezoelectric Shoe Sole GSP Tracker endeavors to manufacture a low-cost and ergonomic children’s shoe with an embedded GPS data logger powered by piezoelectric materials. The technology will provide a powerful, more reliable, energy efficient tracking solution to the growing child abduction epidemic. The team will engineer materials that can be manufactured with little to no impact on the environment, generate a nominal amount of chemical waste, produce significant electrical current and be robust enough to withstand the stress and strains of everyday use. The project will also utilize a One-for-One revenue model made popular by the retail company TOMS; it will deliver a pair of our shoe soles to a child in need for every sale made.

Smart Diaphragm

Smart Diaphragm (UC Berkeley)Vaginal infections in pregnant women pose two major health risks for the unborn child: preterm birth and vertical transmission of infection. Currently, there are limited options that accurately monitor vaginal conditions. The Smart Diaphragm team, collaborating with clinicians and scientists at UCSF, plans to incorporate pH and temperature sensors to ascertain vaginal health and incorporates wireless technology for real-time physician monitoring. The team will develop a prototype that it will test utilizing a bench top lab model of the intra-vaginal environment within over the next year. Its long-term goal is to transition the device to a wireless system so patients can eventually connect to physicians without visiting the clinic.


Lifenik (UC Berkeley)


In the United States, suicide rates have increased 60% over the last 50 years, depression is predicted to be the second-most prevalent health condition in the world within 5 years, and 1 in 3 regular kids have already engaged in self-injury by the time they reach adolescence. Just like learning math or a foreign language, research has shown that practicing a certain skills can lead to greater emotional health, well-being, and fewer mental health issues. Lifenik is a research-based web and mobile application that makes online kids games and activities that strengthen neurocognitive processes that promote emotional health. It aims to develop fun, accessible, and affordable programs for children with no way to prevent or treat mental health issues.