Articles

Carroll County, Md., Demo Day Shows Off Newest Tech Innovations

The event was designed to introduce these creators not only to the public at large, but to each other as well.

by Jacob deNobel, Carroll County Times, Westminster, Md. / March 24, 2017

(TNS) -- The newest apps and technologies created by Carroll entrepreneurs were on display at the first-ever Demo Day on Wednesday at the Community Media Center in Westminster.

The demonstrations were put together by the Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory, a Carroll group designed to bring tech innovations to the county. According to MAGIC board member Jason Stambaugh, the event was designed to introduce these creators not only to the public at large, but to each other as well.

"It's exciting to see what tech entrepreneurs are up to here," Stambaugh said. "These people are usually unseen. It's great to show off what people are doing out in Hampstead or in Sykesville."

The demonstrations began with Aaron Davis' company Switchbridge, which has created a health care data analytics app called Wellth. The app, which is currently available and targeted to employers looking to find savings in their health care spending, collects all of a person's medical and insurance information in a single secure location on their smartphone.

Users of the app can keep track of their conditions, diseases, medications and benefits all in a single place. Doctors and medical organizations can use this information to fill in gaps on patient's charts, prepare for a patient who is coming in with special requirement or just have an overview of someone's medical needs.

Currently more than 10,000 patients use the app, Davis said.

The next presentation was Debra Cancro's public speaking software Voice Vibes. The software is designed for those looking to improve their public speaking skills. After uploading audio files of practice speeches, Voice Vibes analyzes the clips for clarity, pace, enthusiasm, pausing upspeak, vocal variety and counts usages of "um," "uh," "like" and "you know."

The software tracks performances over time and rates the speaker from 0-10 in terms of confidence, timidity, personality and more. The software was originally developed through the use of a data set of actors' voices rated by humans. After development, Cancro said, it was able to predict almost perfectly how clips would be rated by human listeners.

Having hit the market earlier this year, Cancro said the software is available in about 10 schools, and she is looking to expand its use nationwide.

Following Voice Vibes was Terry MacGregor's Law IQ. This program is used by investors and construction companies associated with oil and natural gas pipelines to determine when their completion date will be. The program uses a database of filings from the last 10 years of pipelines to help determine the standard approval and completion dates for each aspect of a pipeline's construction. MacGregor said they are able to predict the final completion date within a month in about 97 percent of cases.

Fourth up was Dave Cecil's language learning app Sentence Wheel. The app, which is still in the development process, is an extension of Cecil's work as an English as a second-language teacher. While teaching, he developed physical sentence wheels out of paper plates that allowed learners to scroll through different verb and noun options to complete a sentence.

To help the technology spread, he has taken to the digital sphere to share the concept nationwide.

The app allows learners to select different locations and verb tenses to practice language in a number of settings. Once selected, they then choose the responses they feel are right to be congratulated for putting together a sentence or corrected on their syntax.

The final business demonstrations was by Chris Allport, who briefly discussed his technology, Skayle. Skayle, which is currently used primarily in the defense industry, allows systems that weren't designed to exchange information to communicate with one another. Allport said it can be used to future-proof devices as it can work even with technologies that haven't been developed yet.

The final group to present weren't tech professionals at all, but rather the student winners of MAGIC's recent Hackathon Contest: Daniel Sailor, of Littlestown High School; Joseph Ferguson, of McDaniel College; Eleanor Hamilton, of Carroll Community College; Jacob Reed, of Harrisburg Area Community College; and Jonathan Lingg, of McDaniel College.

Together their team pitched Straightforward, a news app that uses community voting to decide on the bias levels of news stories. The app provides readers with news stories stripped of information like the author and source, and asks them to judge whether it leans left, right or is bias-free. The top center-leaning stories are then pushed forward as the most important news stories of the day.

Davis said he was impressed with the forward-thinking nature of the students.

"Those young kids blew me away," Davis said. "They're putting all that energy towards solving a problem they see, and that's something I think we could use more of."

©2017 the Carroll County Times (Westminster, Md.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.