Winners of the 2014 SXSW Accelerator Competition

By SUSAN LAHEY
Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Winner of the SXSW Accelerator programs, photo by Susan Lahey

Winner of the SXSW Accelerator programs, photo by Susan Lahey

The huge ballroom that hosted the SXSW Accelerator Awards Sunday night was packed and the mood was warm and festive as emcee Francisco Dao, founder of 50 Kings suggested a giant selfie, Oscars-style, and winner Barak Hachamov of Israel took a video of the group clapping for his award to send back to his family.
Hundreds attended the awards ceremony which seems to swell every year.
This year’s winner in the Entertainment and Content Technologies category was Waygo of Providence, Rhode Island. This app that lets people scan Chinese with their smartphone cameras to instantly translate it into English, without using a data connection. Another company, Word Lens, does the same thing, but only for Western text. Founder Ryan Rogowski said “It has been great to be here at South By, talking to other startups and being honest about how we’re all failing, even if we’re succeeding.”
ThriveOn, a San Francisco company that offers a mental health assessment and suggestions online, won in the Health Technologies category.
Synbiota of Montreal, won in Innovative World Technologies. Synbiota is a collaborative, open web platform that allows people to create materials, food, medicines and fuel using DNA as building blocks.
Samba.me of Tel Aviv, Israel, won in the Social Technologies category. Samba.me replaces “LOL” with actual reaction shots of people as they see what you’ve shared socially.
Skully Helmets won in the wearable technologies category. The motorcycle helmet is currently a “rear view mirror on steroids” that lets riders see what’s going on behind them without taking their eyes from the road ahead. But the company intends to increase its functionality to make it, “Google Glass that can save your life” according to founder Marcus Weller.
Trustev of Cork City, Ireland, won in the Enterprise and Big Data Technologies category. This company provides real time, online identity verification to eliminate fraud and increase revenues for retailers.
Avegant winner, photo by Susan Lahey

Avegant winner, photo by Susan Lahey

Winners each received a check for $4,000. There was also a one-minute fast-pitch competition for some of the entrants who didn’t make it into accelerator. Avegant is a multi-media device that offers virtual retina display, essentially using the back of the eyeball as a screen. That company won $1,000.
Waygo, photo by Susan Lahey

Waygo, photo by Susan Lahey

Some of the world’s coolest technologies were presented over Saturday and Sunday at SXSW Accelerator competition. Dresses with solar panels built in for charging your smart phone; software that lets you scan your house with a smart phone and create a virtual environment to try out paint colors, furniture and more; an artificially intelligent emotional recognition software that lets webcams read people’s micro expressions as they watch videos; technology in consumer products that monitors nutrition and onset of chronic conditions before symptoms occur….
Some of the sessions garnered so much interest the line snaked outside the door. Innovative World Technologies—a broad category for disparate kinds of products and services and wearable tech were two examples. As one judge put it wearable tech companies are “competing for the real estate of the body.”
All Accelerator competitors have the benefit of coaches who help them prepare their pitches. Judges included tech heavy hitters such as Pike Powers, Erick Schonfeld of DEMO, Garry Tan of Y Combinator, though at the ceremony when recognition of judges was called, only Ben Dyer, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Cockrell School of Engineering at UT was present. He later joked that he should get more credit for having judged all those companies by himself.
Emcees included Bob Metcalfe, professor of innovation at the University of Texas at Austin and founder of Ethernet and 3Com, Laurie Segall—technology correspondent for CNN Money—and John Sculley, formerly of Pepsi and Apple.

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