Plantronics contest

Bluetooth headsets for cellphones have become commonplace. These days, hardly anyone notices when a guy goes walking down the street talking to himself. But headsets could be do so much more than just be a wireless receiver for a telephone. That’s why Plantronics has announced its 2015 PLT Labs Application Innovation Contest. It is open to contestants from 33 different countries who will compete for a total of $85,000 in cash prizes. The contest is for new ideas for personal and business applications, as well as “applications for people with limited mobility.” This broad net opens the door to a variety of wearable Health Tech applications.

That door is opened even further by the specifications of the prototype device that contestants will get to use for their development projects. According to the Plantronics website, the device will have the following sensors and capabilities:

  • Wearing state: is the headset being worn or not?
  • Proximity: is the headset near or far from the devices it’s paired to?
  • Head orientation: get the orientation of the user’s head in Euler Angles or quaternions.
  • Pedometer: use the device as a pedometer to get step-count.
  • Free-fall detection: determine if the user or the device is in a state of free fall.
  • Taps detection: measure the direction and count of taps on the device’s surface.
  • Nod detection: determine if the user had nodded or shaken their head.
  • Raw sensors: get raw sensor data for the accelerometer, magnetometer and gyroscope to do your own processing.

All these sensors will be integrated into the Plantronic APIs. Competitors will have access to the APIs, SDKs, and prototype headsets so that they can develop their ideas. According to Cary Brian, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics, “Now a broad range of contextual information from the device, coupled with the power and ubiquity of smart phones makes entirely new classes of applications possible.” It is easy to see how these sensors could be put into service for a variety of helpful Health Tech applications.

The deadline for contest submissions is November 15, 2015. Plantronics will then select 20 teams for the quarter-finals, who will receive prototype devices to use as they build and test their application. 10 finalist teams will demonstrate their results at a live event in May 2015.