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Modernized inventory system wins Qualcomm Wireless Innovation Prize

April 19, 2012 By James Beal

Christopher Beley’s Flextory, a flexible, web-based inventory system designed for multiple inventory scenarios, won $10,000 and top prize at the 2012 University of Wisconsin–Madison Qualcomm Wireless Innovation Competition.

The Qualcomm Wireless Innovation Prize, sponsored by the San Diego-based mobile technology company, rewards students who present creative wireless technology products and well-developed business plans. The competition was held Wednesday (April 18) in the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

Frustrated with the user interfaces, expense and lack of adaptability in current inventory software, Beley set out to design his own that could scan and create barcodes, be adapted to home use, collections, or large business systems and would not require the user to maintain the software. The result is Flextory. The system resides on the web, so the data is available to the user over multiple devices anywhere there is Internet access. Beley has already incorporated a business.

“There are endless business opportunities in wireless technology,” says Qualcomm Senior Vice President of Engineering, Gil Sih. “When students from across campus form teams with business, engineering and computer science students, powerful ideas with great potential are born. We are happy to encourage the growing culture of entrepreneurism at UW–Madison.”

Second place and $5,000 went to Plate, by Tom Rohlf, Lizhong Cao, and Li Zhan. The dashboard, smartphone app and tablet-based menu service provides restaurants with consumer preference data. Customers would use Plate software on smartphones, tablets and other devices to order food, but also learn about specials, design their own menus, easily split checks, join loyalty programs and integrate social media into their dining experience.

Third place and $2,500 was awarded to Winstruments, an Internet enabled, personal, wireless weather station including error-checking mechanisms designed by Alex Kubicek, Bryan Dow, Elise Garms and Kendra Hill. The team’s goal is to commercialize personal pollution tracking and weather instruments, network those stations and then integrate all the data to form more localized weather information tied to social networking.

“We’re always impressed with the way students creatively combine their analytic and academic skills with other interests to solve problems,” says Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Parmesh Ramanathan, who co-coordinated the competition with Duane H. and Dorothy M. Bluemke Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Chair John Booske. “Through this competition, students have again created workable, potentially profitable solutions that will improve the quality of life.”

This year’s judges included entrepreneur and former general manager of emerging technology at Cisco Systems, Adrian Amelse, Telecom Consultant Jeff Roznowski and Qualcomm Senior Vice President of Engineering, Gil Sih.

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