Revolutionary Voice Recognition Software Wins Philips Open Innovation Contest

Published Feb-02-15

A breakthrough voice recognition software that empowers people with speech difficulties to speak with their own voice.

Philips, United States

The Story:

Revolutionary Voice Recognition Software Wins Philips Open Innovation Contest According to research conducted by Philips North America, nearly two-thirds of North Americans consider themselves innovators, with many of them thinking they have dreamed up the 'next big thing'. Wanting to tap into this creative potential, the company hosts an annual open innovation contest called the Phillips Innovation Fellows competition.

Brilliant Ideas Can Come from Anywhere

In partnership with crowdfunding site Indiegogo, the company solicits ideas for products and services that have the potential to change lives. The contest is open to anyone who reckons they have a great concept. Philips is fully signed up to the notion that brilliant ideas can come from anywhere, not just within your own company’s R&D labs.

Those that stand the best chance of being noticed by contest organizers are ones that fill an innovation gap and have the prospect of making a meaningful impact on people’s lives.

The open innovation contest starts with a trawl for submissions in a number of key areas, such as Living Well and Being Healthy. The concepts are studied by Philips officials and those that are selected for the next stage are invited to attract support for their ideas through Indiegogo. After this crowdfunding phase is the selection of five finalists by the Philips Steering Committee with each one winning a $10,000 cash prize.

The Grand Prize winner is chosen by Philips employees and is awarded a further $50,000.

Revolutionary Voice Technology Wins

The winner of the 2014 open innovation contest was VoiceItt, developer of the voice recognition software TalkItt. The innovation helps people who have motor, speech or language disorders to easily communicate in their own voice. The clever piece of technology can translate unintelligible words in any language and convert them into clear speech via a smartphone, tablet or computer.

The National Institutes of Health says there are approximately 7.5 million people in the United States who have difficulty using their own voice. According to VoiceItt, approximately 1.5% of the Western world's population is living with speech disabilities caused by a variety of medical conditions, including stroke, brain damage and Parkinson’s' disease.

''VoiceItt's mission to give a voice to those who struggle to speak because of a medical condition embodies our vision for meaningful innovation,'' said Brent Shafer, CEO of Philips North America. ''The potential of TalkItt to improve so many lives resonated with our judging panel and our employees, and we're honored to name them the winner of our second annual Innovation Fellows competition.''

In addition to their prize money, VoiceItt raised $25,235 during the crowdsourcing stage of the competition. The company will also receive mentoring from business leaders and Philips executives.

Innovators Getting Noticed

Open innovation contests such as this provide welcome routes for any innovator to try and get their innovation noticed. Even if they don’t end up as winners, doing well can bring valuable exposure.

Among the other 2014 Innovation Fellows finalists were Sweet Bites, a chewing gum to help prevent tooth decay in impoverished children and X-Fingers, functional prosthetic fingers for children.

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