clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Verizon Giving $6 Million to a Dozen Startups Using Mobile Technology to Save Lives

Lifeguard drones, farm animal trackers and smart baby onesies are among the finalists in this year's contest.


A drone that acts as a lifeguard, a Wi-Fi network that can be airdropped into a disaster and ten other potentially life-saving startup ideas are set to share in $6 million in prizes thanks to a contest from wireless giant Verizon.

The startups are all winners in the company’s Powerful Answers contest, with the specific prizes to be announced at a Dec. 9 event in San Francisco.

Another winner in the emergency response category is a softball-size unit from Boston-based Bounce Imaging that can map out unseen spaces and send back data to a smartphone so first responders can enter hazardous settings with a preview of what to expect. Meanwhile, EmergenSee turns smartphones into portable security systems that can stream live audio, video and location information to friends or first responders in an emergency.

In the Internet of Things category, finalists include Owlet’s smart onesie that monitors infants to make sure they are breathing at night, the Smart Barn line of livestock management products and CityTaps, which offers a water-monitoring service that lets the urban poor pay for service in small amounts using their smartphones. Meanwhile, Palo Alto-based Zizmos provides early warnings of earthquakes by combining sensors, mobile technology and cloud smarts.

Transportation ideas include Pogo, a ride-sharing service that parents can use to get trusted rides; electric scooter maker Swiftmile; and Sri Lanka’s iHelmet, an intelligent motorcycle helmet with an array of sensors designed to warn riders of upcoming dangers. Israeli startup i4drive transforms a smartphone from a distraction to an aid to drivers by using it to offer up real-time warnings and other information.

It’s the third year of the contest, and this year Verizon said it got 1,400 entires with nearly a quarter coming from female-led startups (three of the 12 finalists are women-led ventures, Verizon said).

“It’s always exciting to meet these founders and entrepreneurs and share in their enthusiasm for problem solving,” Verizon Ventures Senior VP John Doherty said in a statement. “These winners have not only developed potential world-changing technologies, but they are leading promising companies in a time when the space is incredibly competitive.”

Winners in each of the three categories will get $1 million, with additional prizes of $500,000 and $250,000 being given to three runners-up in each category.

This article originally appeared on