Since March there’s been a competition going on, called the Purple Prize, that asks tech developers to team up with cultural practitioners to innovate technologies that serve Hawaiian culture and Hawaiʻi. The winners will be selected in October.
The Purple Prize is only two years old and is run by the small team at technology education nonprofit Purple Maiʻa Foundation. But it’s one of the biggest competitions in Hawaiʻi if you measure by how much prize money is given away. This year they say they’ll be giving out $90K or more in prizes (cash and cloud service credits).
The words “technology innovation” usually bring to mind things like flying cars, the latest smartphone, or futuristic space stations, but the Purple Prize encourages participants to think about innovation as working to solve problems faced by your local community and your environment.
This year, the 12 competing teams are working on projects that have to do with things like monitoring loko iʻa (traditional Hawaiian fishponds), gathering and visualizing data about ecosystems, connecting consumers to healthy food, and sharing moʻolelo (stories) about significant places. The teams all relate their work to this year’s competition theme: Waiwai (value).
Last year, 6 teams competed with projects inspired by the theme aloha ʻāina (love of the land). The top three winning teams were working on wetland censors, a kid’s game app about the watershed called Waiwai, and a wearable technology that helps you learn Hawaiian rain names.
This year’s winners will be chosen on Oct. 21 at UH West Oʻahu. The public and especially students are welcome to check out all the teams, have lunch, and stay for other programming about innovation taking place throughout the day. There is also a pau hana networking event planned for Oct. 19 in Mōʻiliʻili. Watch www.purpleprize.com for details.