MuscleMorph Takes the Grand Prize at 2nd Annual PennVention CompetitionArtificial Muscle

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Media Contact:Jenny Brennan | brennan.jenny@gmail.com | 703-919-6292
Media Contact:Greg Lester | glester@pobox.upenn.edu | 215-573-6604April 11, 2006

PHILADELPHIA -- A revolutionary motor that is more power-efficient, lightweight and cost-effective than any other actuator currently used in prosthetics or robotics swept several awards categories at the 2nd Annual PennVention competition at the University of Pennsylvania Weiss Tech House on April 7.

PennVention helps students develop innovative technologies and provides them with tools to launch those products to market.  This year winners will revolutionize the way we watch television, think about robotic movement, do our laundry, paint our houses and even play golf.

"Our product will enable new prosthetic and robotic applications previously impossible, as well as spawn a whole new generation of medical devices, consumer electronics and toys to name a few," Rodrigo Alvarez. team leader of MuscleMorph, said.  "Just as the semiconductor spawned the digital revolution we think MuscleMorph will spawn the motion revolution."

MuscleMorph was awarded the $5,000 grand prize, six months free office space and amenities from the Science Center and pro bono legal consultation from Lowenstein Sandler LLC to further develop their product.

The second place prize of $2,500 went to Erik DeBraun, inventor of the Octave Swing Trainer.  The trainer can attach to any golf club and wirelessly transmits swing speed to a mobile phone, PDA or optional ground display.  For its potential for rapid prototyping and commercialization, the Octave Swing Trainer also won the Paramount Rapid Prototype Award given by Paramount Industries.

Thanks to third-place winner, VuShare, couples will soon be able to watch "The Sopranos" and "Desperate Housewives" at the same time.   Francisco Martin-Rayo and his team received $1,000 from PennVention to further develop their prototype of VUShare, a product that allows two people to watch two different channels or play different videogames on the same television at the same time.

A second Lowenstein Sandler Legal Mentoring Award went to Johnathan Helfter, inventor of ElvaSafe, who, along with classmate Ethan Keller and brother Daniel, developed a method for making fire-retardant paint.

The QVC Consumer Innovation Prize of $2,500 and a one-hour meeting with a QVC buyer went to Dropps, pre-measured dissolvable packets of super-concentrated laundry detergent that clean even heavily soiled laundry.  Inventor Kunal Bahl recently incorporated CotnWash.com to sell Dropps as its first product.

Last year recipient, Allison Floam, will begin selling her innovative beach towel, Sunsak, on QVC this spring.

Other finalists included: Hotbean, a winter hat that actively warms wearers; Hublock, an innovative bike lock to deter theft; _Laptunes, a product that allows swimmers to listen to their favorite tunes while doing laps; Lazy Man Can, a garbage can that helps users empty it; and Transverge, an identity-based communications service that integrates e-mail, instant messaging, VoIP and SMS into a centralized, unified network.

Each of the 10 PennVention finalists received $850 to develop a prototype from the Keystone Innovation fund and personalized integrated research and product development consultation from Bresslergroup Inc.

"We've seen students come to the Weiss Tech House with nothing more than an interest in technology and leave with an incorporated business and a world of opportunities open to them," Karl Ulrich, faculty director of the Weiss Tech House and inventor of Xootr Scooter, said.  "We're thrilled to be a part of the process."

Unlike other invention competitions, PennVention helps students develop innovative technologies and provides them with tools to actually launch those products to market.  Since 2003, PennVention and the Weiss Tech House have helped launched nearly a dozen products.