September 2015 - Sandpit

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REINVENTING what was once an indispensable household item has seen a team of Adelaide entrepreneurs awarded $10,000 for a project aimed at connecting older Australians with the digital age.

Using an analogue telephone as their base, Sam Haren, Dan Koerner and Robin Moyer — who collectively make up Sandpit — will use the money to create a prototype of an audio-led product that incorporates technology that most of us take for granted. This includes internet access, computer interaction, smartphone offerings, and social network participation.

As part of the State Government’s D3 digital challenge, Sandpit shared top prize with Yup Yup Labs, whose pitch focused on connecting the elderly with community groups that require assistance with short-term projects.

The task Mr Haren and his fellow directors now face is to deliver a working prototype of the yet-to-be-named product within a 4-week period.

“We’ll also be working on the design of all aspects of the product, from its packaging to instructions, as well as the process for productising the device to bring it to market,” he said.

“We have already identified a path to market for the device and have begun engaging with the aged care sector who have shown interest in the product, so we see a number of opportunities.”

The idea stemmed from a project Sandpit, which recently moved into tech hub Base64, completed with Penguin Books. This involved transforming a public phone booth into an outlet that allowed authors and the public to share stories.

“After working on this project, we were really taken with the simplicity and immediacy of the phone as an interface,” Mr Haren said.

“We thought there was a lot of potential in creating social interaction through a device that was led by audio, rather than a screen, website or app.”

Innovation consultant and D3 judge Paul Daly said the panel was impressed by the six teams that were short-listed.

“Competitions like this help bring creativity to bear. I was struck by the quality of concepts on show,” he said.

The team from Koolth and the Gang received a special mention, resulting in a place in Adelaide University’s 2016 eChallenge.

Minister for the Public Sector Susan Close said the D3 program connects entrepreneurs with industry, academia, the community and government to the benefit of South Australians. The previous round of D3 focused on parenting support platforms.

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