Five mobile health contests you should know

By Brian Dolan
07:50 am

While it's clear to anyone in the mobile health industry that there are a great number of events focused on mHealth, the contests and competitions related to mobile health often get lost in the shuffle. Here's our list of Five Mobile Health contests and competitions mobile health industry types should know about. For designers and developers these are great opportunities to get noticed, snag some prize money and hopefully create or inspire worthwhile health services in the process. For others, these contests showcase both the state of the art and what's coming around the corner for mobile health: In other words, they are worth keeping an eye on. In no particular order, here's five mHealth contests worth knowing:

IFTF's BodyShock The Future Contest; VA Innovation Initiative; The 2010 Health 2.0 Developer Challenge; Snaptic's Move Your App! Developer Challenge; The 2010 DiabetesMine Design Challenge.

bs-logoIFTF's BodyShock The Future Contest

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The Institute For The Future is the latest group to announce a competition for health innovations and it's an exciting campaign -- aptly named, BodyShock the Future. Here's the pitch: "With obesity, diabetes, and chronic disease rampaging populations around the world, Institute for the Future (IFTF) is turning up the volume on global well-being. Launching today, IFTF's BodyShock is the first annual competition with an urgent challenge to recruit crowdsourced designs and solutions for better health—to remake the future by rebooting the present."

IFTF offered some suggestions for entries: Life extension, DIY Bio, Diabetic teenagers, Developing countries, Green health, Augmented reality, Self-tracking, and Pervasive games. (Other ideas are welcome, too.)

More from the IFTF: "BodyShock calls upon the public to consider innovative ways to improve individual and collective health over the next 3-10 years by transforming our bodies and lifestyles. Video or graphical entries illustrating new ideas, designs, products, technologies, and concepts, will be accepted from people around the world until September 1, 2010. Up to five winners will be flown to Palo Alto, California on October 8 to present their ideas and be connected to other innovative thinkers to help bring these ideas to life. The grand prize winner will receive the IFTF Roy Amara Prize of $3,000."

"Health doesn't happen all at once; it's a consequence of years of choices for our bodies and lifestyles—some large and some small. BodyShock is intended to spark new ideas to help us find our way back to health," said Thomas Goetz, executive editor of Wired, author of The Decision Tree, and a member of the Health Advisory Board that will be judging the BodyShock contest in addition to votes from the public.

September deadline for entries. More details here.

Veterans Affairs Innovation InitiativeVA Innovation Initiative

This competition has slightly higher (monetary) stakes than the others listed here: The Department of Veterans Affairs recently announced that it will grant $80 million in contracts through its VAi2, the Veterans Affairs Innovation Initiative. The contest hopes to encourage the development of applications that improve the quality of healthcare and other services for veterans.

The VAi2 competition asks comers to create telehealth tools for in-home care, new technologies for dialysis treatment, as well as new ways to use the VA's EHR system to reduce adverse drug reactions. VAi2 also hopes to spark new development in remote monitoring technologies and other services that might aid veterans with multiple injuries.

Proposal due by the end of September. Details here.

Health 2.0 Developer ChallengeThe 2010 Health 2.0 Developer Challenge

Health 2.0 recently announced The 2010 Health 2.0 Developer Challenge, which has the support of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Community Health Data Initiative (CHDI). The CHDI launched just a few weeks ago and with it new open government public health data sets are now available for developers to use. This Challenge posits that we now have a unique opportunity to participate in an ecosystem of data “suppliers” and “appliers” to build innovative tools to improve personal and population health.

More from Health 2.0: "Through a series of formal and informal “code-a-thons”, multi-disciplinary teams will work on specific solutions within priority areas identified in advance. The teams will compete in a stimulating environment to build real applications. And yes, there’ll be prizes (and food to keep you going)!"

Stay tuned for details here.

Snaptic's "Move your app!" Developer Challenge

This competition recently drew to a close, but it's aim and focus is important:, an online portal for information about children’s health, behavior, and development from before birth through the teen years, teamed up with Snaptic, HopeLab, and the TED Prize to sponsor the “Move Your App” developer challenge to inspire mobile users in the fight against obesity.

The challenge called on Android developers to create apps that got people to move, while being fun to use and innovative in their approach to encouraging physical activity. Snaptic provided resources for developers to draw from to build their apps.

The competition drew 246 registered developers from 3 continents and 12 countries, the grand prize winner of the 10 finalists was Peter Ma of Los Angeles, CA with his submission Pickup Sports. He created an Android app that let’s you organize pickup games and allow others to join in. He’ll be representing the Move Your App! challenge at TED Global 2010 in Oxford.

2nd Place: Dr. Detective, Seattle WA. Developer: Bitstudio
3rd Place: Wagz, Atlanta GA. Developer: Conroy Whitney
4th Place (tie): WalkArt, Cambridge UK. Developer: Stefan Fidanov
4th Place (tie): 5 Minutes Break, Hungary. Developer: HelloAndroid

Competition Results Page Here

The 2010 DiabetesMine Design Challenge

The DiabetesMine Design Challenge also wrapped up recently: The DiabetesMine Design Challenge is an online competition to encourage creative new tools for improving life with diabetes. The competition solicits ideas for innovative new diabetes devices or web apps and rewards top ideas with up to $7,000 in cash and consulting from firms that can help bring the applicant's vision to reality.

From DiabetesMine: "We welcome entries from any individuals or organizations passionate about diabetes and product design ― patients, parents, caregivers, students, entrepreneurs, developers, engineers, etc. We also welcome entries from kids age 17 and under, which will be judged in a separate category."

This competition is sponsored by the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF), an independent philanthropy organization committed to improving the way health care is delivered and financed in California and beyond. It is also endorsed by, the Internet journal of emerging medical technologies, and supported by the world-renowned design and innovation firm IDEO, with headquarters in Palo Alto, CA.

Here's a video pitch for one of the three grand prizes -- this one, Zero, makes use of embedded wireless tech as well as a smartphone:

Which other mobile health related competitions are worth noting?


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