Smart glasses for the blind and mosquito tracker compete for Google backing

Ten contenders enter the Google Impact Challenge, proposing new technology that will help people around the world.

Orlando van Einsiedel/Virunga Movie

From disease-battling wearable technology that can hear the wingbeats of mosquitos to smart glasses that help the blind see again, a range of clever innovations are in the running to win backing from Google.

Ten British charities and nonprofit organisations have entered the Google Impact Challenge, proposing new technology that will help people around the world. The lucky winner will receive £500,000 and support from Google and Nesta, a British charity that works to foster innovation in the UK.

The panel of judges includes "Dragon's Den" star Peter Jones CBE, broadcaster Emma Freud, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Nesta Executive Director Helen Goulden, Google Vice President Matt Brittin, and Jacquelline Fuller, director of the Big G's charitable arm

The 10 entrants include a variety of apps and wearable gadgets designed to help people in the developing world, people with mental health issues, unemployed youngsters, and other disadvantaged or vulnerable groups. The winner will be revealed Thursday at Google's London office.

Developed in collaboration with Oxford University, the RNIB's smart glasses help the visually-impaired see again. RNIB/Oxford University

Here are the 10 entrants and their innovations:

The Royal National Institute for the Blind is developing smart glasses that enable those with very limited vision to make use of what sight they have, helping them identify faces and obstacles. They've been developed in conjunction with Oxford University, and an affordable version is planned to give the gift of sight without breaking the bank.

WeFarm is an app from the Cafédirect Producers' Foundation that allows farmers to share ideas and information across the world even among people who speak different languages. For example, a farmer in Peru who could no longer afford fertiliser was able to use the app to receive a fully translated recipe from a Kenyan farmer for a cheap organic alternative.

We Are What We Do is a charity project that encourages people to perform small good works such as refusing plastic bags and turning off taps. They're developing a wearable wristband sensor that measures heart rate that will be part of a game teaching kids to stay cool under pressure. By rewarding you when you keep your heart rate down through the game, the game helps players learn to manage stress and cope with mental health issues.

Catch22 have created an app to provide young people with the skills to get into work, rewarding them in the app with employability badges recognising the skills they have developed.

Carr Gomm are developing ClickGo, an app that will enable people with mental health issues to choose who is in their support team, monitor their support budget, and arrange when to see their support team. Already in limited use in Scotland, ClickGo then shows how social care has benefitted the user.

St Giles Trust is charity helping people who have left prison. Former offenders face homelessness, unemployment, addiction and mental health issues after they leave prison, but with the help of specially-trained former offenders the app will be part of a multi-channel support system. In the next three years the project is set to support 80,000 people with criminal convictions and their families.

Homelessness charity Centrepoint is working on a comprehensive database that that uses predictive analytical techniques to battle youth homelessness. An app will help homeless charities keep in touch with ex-homeless young people that motivates people to turn their lives around and provide insights that will help others.

Relationship counsellors Relate will create a new online service for separating parents, offering advice, self-help tools and exercises to ease the traumatic experience of parents splitting up, laying the foundations for co-operative parenting after the split.

The Virunga National Park, located in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is working on real-time tracking and mapping of the park to protect park rangers and wildlife endangered by those seeking to profit from the minerals and oil in the park. The goal is to change the way local people engage with authorities and respond to security threats, improving the conservation of one of Africa's richest but most threatened national parks.

Speaking of lush wildlife, the folks from the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew are collaborating with Oxford University to track the movements of malaria-spreading mosquitos. Villagers in rural Indonesia will be given wearable acoustic sensors that can detect the distinctive wingbeats of different species of mosquito, helping to combat illness caused by the disease-bearing mozzies.

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