2 DFW Students to Participate in SXSW Red Bull Launch Institute

The Red Bull Launch Institute will host six teams of college students March 10 at the South By Southwest Conference and Festival.

Neha Husein And Elaine Wang

A couple of North Texas university students will participate in the Red Bull Launch Institute March 10 at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin.

The institute, which says it “give wings to collegiate entrepreneurs and their ideas,” will host six teams of college students whose innovative business concepts will be turned into reality while being mentored by other entrepreneurs and business leaders.

APP HELPS DETER DISTRACTED DRIVING

The North Texas students are Neha Husein of Southern Methodist University and Elaine Wang of the University of Texas at Dallas.

Husein, a winner in the 2017 Big iDeas Business Plan Competition at SMU, has developed an incentive-based app that rewards undisrupted driving as a way to lessen the dangers of drivers who text while operating their vehicles.

Big iDeas

Neha Husein (middle right) was one of the winners of Southern Methodist University’s 2017 Big iDeas competition. [Photo courtesy of Southern Methodist University]

Her idea dates back to 2014 when Husein was rear ended by a driver who was texting — one of 431,000 people injured nationwide by distracted driving that year, according to statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

The Red Bull Launch Institute, “gives wings to collegiate entrepreneurs and their ideas.”

Husein has been nervous and fearful on the road since that wreck, and despite a Texas law banning texting while driving going into effect last year, Husein said she believed it wouldn’t be enough to keep people from texting while behind the wheel.

Not all apps designed to mitigate the problem have been effective, and mostly are used as a controlling technique between a parent and a teen driver.

Husein’s solution, Just Drive, is an incentive-based app that rewards undisrupted driving. The app recognizes if a car is moving when the phone is locked and the app is running. 

Her app rewards the user with one point for every 10 minutes of undistracted driving. The points can be redeemed for coupons to local restaurants and shops.

It’s a way to partner with businesses in a positive social cause that benefits public safety — the businesses receive inexpensive advertising that reaches and rewards their target audiences.

CTHROUGH PROVIDES DIGITAL MAPS, REAL-TIME INFO

Wang’s company is Cthrough, an augmented reality platform that provides digital maps to attractions and provides real-time information that shows where events and activities begin. The platform also enriches visits with customized digital experiences, allows users to see engaging images through their mobile cameras.

Cthrough won the $10,000 second-place prize in November at the UT Dallas Big Idea Competition.

Cthrough offers useful applications in amusement and theme parks, zoos, resorts, aquariums, college campuses, museums, and cultural attractions. It also opens up new avenues for businesses to better understand and communicate with customers in a simple, cost-efficient manner.

Cthrough is compatible with Apple and Android devices, and, in the near future, it will work with augmented reality glasses.

For more about the Red Bull Launch Institute, visit the website here.

Elaine Wang, C Through

Elaine Wang pitches Cthrough in November at the UT Dallas Big Idea Competition. [Photo: Heather Noel]

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