Smart motorcycle helmet takes top honors at UH innovation showcase


On Wednesday, November 20, the Shidler College of Business’ Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) conducted the final round and announced the winners of the 2019 University of Hawaii (UH) Breakthrough Innovation Challenge.

Inspired by a friend’s near-death motorcycle accident that left him hospitalized with multiple broken bones, Computer Science student Ty Uehara, designed a riding helmet that incorporates multiple technologies. This improved design enables riders who have fallen from an accident to be in immediate contact with emergency services, without having to move any part of their body. Ty and his idea called “ConTekt” captured the top prize of $2,000.

This year’s challenge was sponsored by one of the State’s largest CPA firms, Accuity LLP. Nearly 80 people attended the event, which was held at The Pacific Club.

Prior to the final event, contestants who are UH students, submitted a 2-minute video in which they detailed their breakthrough idea and its market potential. A preliminary judging panel selected the finalists. PACE then matched the finalists with mentors from the local business community to help the teams further identify commercial opportunities for the idea and develop a five-minute presentation.

Four Finalists:

  • Auctor – software that helps to sort waste for recycling
  • Contekt – a high-tech helmet that contacts 911
  • Hawaii Innovation Lab – a vest that keeps the body cool with liquid metal
  • Hempire – eco-conscious clothing made from hemp

Hawaii Innovation Lab captured the second prize of $1,000, and the $1,000 Audience Choice award that was determined by audience votes.

The finalists presented their ideas to a judging panel comprised of Len Higashi, interim director of Hawaii Technology Development Corporation; Julia Okinaka, president of Accuity Consulting Services; and George Yarbrough, co-founder of Impact Hub Honolulu. The panel was tasked with determining a first and second place winner.

“The success of this particular challenge, for PACE, has been engaging students from technical fields of study and introducing them to business and entrepreneurial concepts,” said Peter Rowan, executive director of PACE. “I am continually impressed by the creative and ambitious ideas of our students, and am excited to be able to help them in their entrepreneurial journey that’s just beginning.”

About UH Breakthrough Innovation Challenge

Now in its 9th year, the UH Breakthrough Innovation Challenge is an entrepreneurial competition that exposes UH students in all disciplines to entrepreneurial and innovative ways of thinking; provides a platform for participants to showcase their ingenious ideas to offer more efficient, stronger, better, and novel products or services; and brings recognition and attention to outstanding entrepreneurs at UH. The Challenge matches competitors with business mentors and teaches students to research market opportunities, seek customer validation, and determine the commercial potential of their idea. The Challenge is sponsored by Accuity LLP and organized by the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship in partnership with the UH College of Engineering, the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, the William S. Richardson School of Law, and the UH Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation. For more information, visit

About the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship

Founded in 2000 at the Shidler College of Business, the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) is the home for a set of experiential entrepreneurship programs at the University of Hawaii (UH). The Center’s 20+ programs offer mentorship, training and resources to all UH students and faculty, and are designed to encourage entrepreneurial thinking across disciplines and inspire entrepreneurs to move their ideas from conceptualization to commercialization. For more information, visit

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