Cisco is famous for its venture capital interests. (The company says it currently has more than US$2 billion in venture capital investments under management.) But its i-Prize Contest is a little different. Like a reality TV show, the winner of the i-Prize will be financed by the router giant for the next two years, Cisco says. Who knows, maybe the winner will be the company's next billion-dollar business? While the contest technically ended on May 3, Cisco is keeping mum about the 12 finalist entries. It says it doesn't want to tip its hand about what ventures it might be interested in. Nevertheless, we scoured the i-Prize Web site to select our own picks of the 10 most interesting projects. (Please note: these are probably not be the finalists.)
Cosmic ray communication
Set up a network of transmitters and receivers that communicate via cosmic rays directed through the Earth itself rather than around its perimeter. "This may be much more economic way of communication compared with cables, satellites or other means of telecommunication."
A weight activated sensor connected to a home network could photograph vehicles that come into the driveway, trigger e-mail alerts, draw the blinds or lock the doors. "So that criminals cannot invade your home - or maybe just people you don't want to visit."
Man-machine input metrics - adapting technology to humans
This project proposes gloves with fingertip sensors and switches that interpret tapping on any object as if it is input from a keyboard. "Each key acts as a shift key to create 100 combinations with only one or two presses. The 26 letter alphabet is produced with one press of each key for the first ten letters. Hold the right thumb down for the next eight letters and the left thumb down for the last eight letters."
IP video glasses
These would capture what the person wearing them sees and either store it or project it real-time at a remote location. A paramedic at an emergency could get expert help from afar. "What the paramedic sees the doctor sees. They can collaborate and potentially deal with a life threatening issue faster."
This calls for LED ads on barbershop mirrors for those sitting getting haircuts. "We sit there looking at the mirror, and unfortunately there is nothing else we can do. So if an advertisement is placed on the mirror, every customer will see it. Every customer will have to look at it for 15 minutes, and the penetration is very high."
Would-be writers collaborate writing stories on a Web site. "Finally when a story is complete, or rather when the webmaster deems it complete, the website takes it to press and gets it published. All contributors get discounted rates on the published book."