Sports / Events

Taking Opportunities: The C Prize

Next-generation, spider silk technologies, artificial intelligence, bionics…

These are all words that are not likely to crop up in my day-to-day vocabulary.

As a self-confessed ‘English brain’, being involved in Callaghan Innovation’s incentivised tech challenge has been an incredible and rather intimidating opportunity.

The idea behind the competition, named the ‘C Prize’, is to challenge New Zealander’s to design and submit entries for a next generation wearable technology (think fitbit, apple watch, Skins etc).

For the bold and brilliant entrants there are some pretty big cash prizes up for grabs. While the money is a bonus, I personally think seeing your own wearable tech evolve from dream, to concept and product would be the biggest reward…

So how does a blogging, aquatics based athlete find herself trying to generate some excitement for a tech-innovation comp?

Well, the challenge has three distinct arms. Entrants have a choice of three tracks to focus their invention on, and they are:

  1. Live healthier
  2. Work safer
  3. Play smarter

Which essentially means: create a revolutionary piece of wearable tech that helps bring Kiwi’s home safe from work, ensures our bodies and minds are healthy and find the next edge to help push our sportspeople to the top of international competition.

As an athlete it was my job to bring the techy-types ‘in to my head’ during those intense moments of competition. When your wins and losses come down to hundredths of seconds it’s easy to see why technological innovation is important.

From my perspective, anything that could combine psychology with physiological training would be unreal. I’m an over thinker and avid dreamer- being able to find connections between my brain and the way my body performs would simultaneously help me to become a better athlete and improve interest.

As I mentioned in my blog, This Is Why, swimming is only boring if you lose the capacity to imagine, if you lose the will to improve. Being able to use wearable tech to help me further entrench myself in my sport is an incredibly exciting prospect.

One of the coolest parts of speaking at the information events has been witnessing diverse talents combine for a common goal.

It’s too easy in life to run with the same crew. To build friendships, attend events and converse with those that share similar interests and expertise. It’s like the suggested feed on our social channels, when you only care about cute dog videos, all you’ll ever learn about is cute dogs.

The activity at the end of the presentations challenged attendees to sever their comfortable ties and seek out different people in the room to brainstorm a new idea. One simple request resulted in a room of people hurdling their social anxiety to collaborate with minds who had alternative expertise and knowledge. There were textile students chatting with business owners and lecturers brainstorming with corporate leaders.

Like animals surrounding an idea watering hole, I was awestruck by the range of people and alternative concepts designed in just 15 short minutes.

Having the opportunity to speak a little about my own experience with sport and competition has been awesome. While I was initially terrified at the ideas of speaking to a room of science minded humans, this experience has shown me that when you want something (in my case, opportunities to get in to public speaking) it’s worth fighting off the fear and jumping in, head first.

Because of this opportunity I’ve been on a plane for business for the first time, tried working remotely and even realised a childhood dream of swimming in Dunedin’s flume.

Thank you for this opportunity AUT Millennium and Callaghan Innovation.

And good luck to all C Prize entrants!

For more info on the C Prize, follow this link

To learn more about one of the major sponsors, my training ground and current employer, AUT Millennium, click here

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