It is good to have your own island. Even better when it is in the Caribbean. Sir Richard Branson hosted the finals of the Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC) 2016 on Necker Island.
Bloom Technologies (site) won the Extreme Tech Challenge 2016. The startup develops a wearable smart device for mothers-to-be to wear during their third trimester helping the mother better understand how her body is preparing for labor and easily tracks the progression once labor has begun.
Second Place winner Giroptic (site) has brought to market a patented, lightweight, easy to use 360 degree capture device that produces immersive video and images in real-time. Users can share spherical video or images to social media sites such as Facebook and allow their friends to see in 360 degrees simply by panning and tilting their phones to see in all directions.
The 3rd spot went to Sphero (site), a company that has already established itself with interactive toys like the Sphero BB8. Why they still take part in competitions like this, is a bit weird, but then hanging out with Sir Richard Branson on his private Caribbean island is not bad at all.
Sir Richard Branson said at the event: “Bloom… obviously I’m a grandfather, I’m a father. We had 3 men up there, two women (on the judging panel), and a lot of us have had children and grandchildren and what Bloom is doing is potentially revolutionary and if they can get the final FDA it will be absolutely astounding and could save many, many, many lives… So, Bloom was definitely very high on the list. By the way, all 3 came within a point of each other in the written vote and so it was one of those very difficult ones. The Giroptic’s is extraordinary as well. And the technology is absolutely brilliant. …I think it’s absolutely going to transform camera technology. ...The fact that you can get 360 degrees without editing is astounding. With most of it, it takes hours and hours and hours to edit. So you come back, let’s say, from a kite trip, and you’ve got that 360 degree footage, the way you can use it inside to monitor your homes…there are just so many uses to put it to."
The XTC 2016 winner was chosen during a rigorous voting process by a seasoned panel of investors, spearheaded by special guest judge Sir Richard Branson, who played host to the final round of competition at his Necker Island estate, in the British Virgin Islands.
Narrowed down from a pool of thousands of applicants, the Top 25 contestants were unveiled late last fall in San Francisco. On November 29th the final 10 have been revealed. From there, Semi-Finalists pitched their endeavors to a panel hosted at CES 2016.
The Extreme Tech Challenge returns in 2017. Applications can already enter the competition here. The winners receive guidance, investment, and infrastructure from technological luminaries from around the globe, and a trip to the 2017 Finals at Necker Island.