Innovation, Rewarded with a Smiley
At a university well-known for its impressive contributions to society, it's important to recognize innovations that simply make our world a little better, if only by lending a hand—or in this case, a glove. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of gloves are lost each year in Pittsburgh. For those of us who've experienced this (and, really, who hasn’t?), the worst part isn't losing the pair, it's losing just one—leaving the other behind to spend the rest of its solitary life in a gutter or on a bus.
With winter in full swing, this sad tale is one that Pittsburghers know all too well. But Carnegie Mellon School of Art
graduate student Jennifer Gooch and Human-Computer Interaction Institute
doctoral student Turadg Aleahmad designed a website, One Cold Hand?
, to help reunite owners with their lost gloves. By collecting lost gloves from city-wide drop boxes and posting images online, Gooch and Aleahmad offer people a place to search for their missing attire.
This type of ingenuity earned the webmasters Carnegie Mellon's first-ever Smiley Award
, named after the beloved emoticon that originated on campus in the early 1980s. Made possible by a generous donation from Yahoo! Inc.
, the Smiley Award recognizes "innovation in technology-assisted person-to-person communication." Winning entrants receive a $500 cash prize, and are selected based on the contribution's effectiveness, creativity, and fun. Extra credit is given for community "buzz."
Yahoo! has been a long-time partner of Carnegie Mellon, providing ample funding to our student and faculty researchers. Since the inception of the Yahoo! Key Technical Challenge initiative in 2007, two Carnegie Mellon PhD students have been awarded the prize, which recognizes research contributions and aids in the advancement of graduate-level projects with small grants. And last November, Yahoo! announced its plans to launch "an open-source program aimed at advancing the research and development of systems software for distributed computing," with Carnegie Mellon as its lead partner. Click here
to learn more about the program.
The Smiley Award is open to all Carnegie Mellon students, regardless of grade level, and will be handed out annually for "clever, perhaps small or 'bootleg' contributions, in the spirit of the original smiley symbol." Although One Cold Hand? might be seen as a small contribution when compared to lager industry-sponsored projects, its impact is undeniable—to date it has spawned sister projects in London, New York, and Denver.