PhilaU Senior Wins JAZ Tank Award for Smart Glasses to Help Hearing Impaired

Philadelphia University industrial design senior Renee Kakareko won $5,000 to further develop oLIVE Devices, her company that provides “smart” eyewear for the hearing impaired, at the 2nd annual JAZ Tank pitch competition held April 27 in the Kanbar Campus Center.

Industrial design senior Renee Kakareka and PhilaU President Spinelli.

Industrial design senior Renee Kakareka and PhilaU President Spinelli.

JAZ Tank was co-sponsored by PhilaU and Jefferson Innovation Pillar to bring innovation to healthcare through entrepreneurship. Seven early-stage businesses were pitched to the panel of investor judges as part of the event’s Venture Track.

Micaela Langille Collins took the first-place prize of $10,000 for her business that facilitates breast-feeding among working mothers, and runner-up Justine Han received $5,000 for her business of plasma treatment for corneal ulcers.

PhilaU President Stephen Spinelli Jr. announced the winners, who, in addition to the cash prizes to develop their businesses, also received a free patent, copyright or trademark application, business mentorship working space and consulting services.

Kyle Garb, a senior industrial design student, also had an opportunity to pitch his alternate burn care application device, which would dispense medication to painful burns through a misting system that would avoid direct contact with the sensitive skin.

Earlier that day, PhilaU graduate industrial design student Syed Azaaz Ahmed was selected as one of four earlier-stage entrepreneurs to access funding through the event’s Opportunity Track. His developing business, Air Eyes, would allow those who are blind to sense what is around them through pulses of air.

Kakareko, who said her glasses provide “superpowers” for people with hearing disabilities, developed the high-tech eyeglasses that capture the words of people and display them to the wearer for her senior capstone project. She said 14 percent of children in the U.S. have hearing impairments, noting that her fashionable glasses can impact both speech comprehension and the social aspects of being hearing impaired.

The previous day, Kakareko had presented oLIVE Devices at the Venture Fair in Philadelphia and was featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer.


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