RootsTech Wednesday: Innovator Summit

Today the highlight for me was the Innovator Challenge Semifinals. As we ate a really yummy box lunch, we were treated to short presentations from 8 finalists—entrepreneurs with big ideas in various stages of development—in an innovators challenge. After each presentation a panel of judges was invited to ask clarifying questions. Four of these innovative teams will compete on Friday morning for $25,000 cash. They will be evaluated by a panel of 6 judges (family historians, business professionals and venture capitalists) and voted on by those attending RootsTech.

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So, just for fun here are the semifinalists (with links where possible) and a short description of what they are doing or want to do. 

ArgusSearch
A Google-like search engine with new technologies in indexing and a crazy cool ability to read/recognize handwritten records in multiple languages. You would type in say your great, great grandfather's name in Italian and hit go and Argus would find all of the instances of that name, even in 1820 handwritten parish records in Milan. Neat!

GenMarketplace
This website is going live tonight!
The goal is to pair your skills or lack of skills in family research with the skills of others in a collaborative effort/space to increase the efficiency of the work. As I understand it there are some cool features that will even identify the holes (like a missing source to verify a marriage) in your family history and generate a list of "jobs" that need to be done. Jobs are then listed with a beginning price which goes up, over time until someone is willing to do the job. You would pre-load your account balance and set your maximum bid price, so that you never pay more than you want to. This is essentially a tool/community designed to pay experts for their time on your behalf. 

HistoryLines
So, this service will match your ancestor with the cultural and world history in which he or she lived, and  instantly create a personal life sketch to explore and expand on. All you need to do is input a few details like names and dates and you'll receive a beautifully written life sketch summary that will help YOU better understand their experiences and perspective which is otherwise hidden in historical documents and newspaper articles that would be very difficult and/or time intensive to access. What you get back is fully customizable, so you can both approve and edit if needed. 

Legacy Stories
I hope I can summarize this one succinctly. Legacy Stories wants to work with and train elderly care-givers (apparently there are over 65 million of them in the US alone) to interview our oldest generations that may otherwise be forgotten, so that their stories won't die with them. Once trained and certified as Legacy Planners, these care givers will be monetarily incentivized to help rescue the greatest resource of knowledge and information that is currently available—our elderly citizens. Stories will be automatically uploaded to live in the cloud and can then be search out and linked to a variety of family tree websites. 

Legacyshare
Legacy Share is a social storytelling and content sharing platform
How are they different, say from Facebook? Great design, multi-generational appeal with a super-easy interface and format that is specific to your family group, so that only curated content (the photos and stories you want to share) is published and shared. It's like an online journal that you share with your loved-ones or a virtual conversation that can happen daily, rather than when everyone is together and can sit around the living and catch up. Plus, it's all preserved!

Lucidpress
Is a "perfect for print and dynamic for digital" design tool that anyone can use to create stories (think digital scrapbook pages) which can be published and consumed online or printed and bound as book. Lucid engages the younger audiences, who because they've grown in the digital age will expect this level of quality, collaboration and ease. The application is drag and drop and totally rad. 

StoryWorth
StoryWorth is the "easiest way to record your family stories." Each week subscribers and their storytellers are emailed a question to respond to. All the storyteller has to do is reply to the email (or leave a voicemail with a phone) If they respond to even half of the weekly questions, they will have 25 + stories recorded in just one year. Content is always 100% downloadable. 
Value propositions are ...
Simplicity (Email or phone without needing to log in)
Pace (Families are busy. One email per week!)
Privacy (Users can share very personal/meaningful stories with just family members) 
Connection (Stories are preserved, but also bring families closer together in the meantime!)

TapGenes
Super easy way to collect, save and preserve family health history so you can identify risks and be proactive in minimizing those risks in your genealogy health tree. Safe and secure, you connect via FaceBook and ask a series of questions and then invite other family members to join and contribute. Notifications are built in and can be set to alert medical personnel and emergency contacts. 

I would love you to leave me a comment and tell me which innovator's app you find most useful to you. Let's see if you can guess which of the eight, make it to the final competition and which will WIN the grand prize!

I'll sign off with this very touching YouTube video showcasing MyHeritage's Instant Discoveries that they shared with citizens of New York City ...

Powerful stuff.