- Epson is taking its engagement with the U.S. developer community to new heights and hosted its second Innovation Challenge to promote Epson Connect™, the secure cloud service to control print and scan functions.
- The hackathon witnessed an overwhelming response, with far over 100 applications pouring in from aspiring innovators and tech enthusiasts with a focus on identifying new print and scan workflows.
- The event’s success was further amplified by the presence of an expert jury panel consisting of Epson America’s key product leaders for printing and scanning devices, former Head of Commercial at Github, former Global Partnership Leader for Conversational AI at AWS and Mr. Junkichi Yoshida, COO Printing Solutions, Seiko Epson Corporation.
- This article reviews the hackathon and highlights the winning teams (1) ImmigrantFirst, (2) StoryTime GPT, (3) SessionScribe which were pretty close in the fierce competition, delivering awe-inspiring solutions that harnessed the full potential of Epson Connect’s secure cloud scan and print capabilities.
Epson Innovation Challenge #2 – Developing Compelling Solutions that Bridge the Physical and Digital Divide Leveraging Epson’s Cloud Service “Epson Connect” for Scan and Print Workflows
Epson America, Inc. and Foundry 415 Innovation Group (hackathon operator) hosted the second “Epson Innovation Challenge” in the U.S., a one-week hybrid “hackathon” series held in San Francisco, San Jose, and remotely from July 12-20, 2023.
In a world of ever-advancing digitization, the printing landscape is evolving, but the relevance of home and office printers endures. They continue to play a pivotal role in producing tangible documents, catering to personalized requirements, and handling specialized printing tasks with unmatched precision. Epson presents an irresistible opportunity for developers to utilize the power of the secure cloud service for remote scanning and printing through Epson Connect™, with access to millions of users.
The same can be said for scanning, where leveraging emerging technologies like OCR and Generative AI has allowed for a seamless transfer of data from the physical to the digital world. With benefits in document management, information classification, and insight extraction, there is a wide range of possibilities to building new scanning workflows.
“Epson is committed to provide an attractive platform for innovative partners to develop new solutions and user experiences on top of Epson’s renowned precision print and scan products with access to millions of users. The Innovation Challenge gives developers a unique opportunity to experiment with our API, compete in a fun way and to win fantastic prizes,” said Junkichi Yoshida, COO Printing Solutions, Seiko Epson Corporation.
The hackathon witnessed an overwhelming response from the developer community, with far over 100 applications pouring in from aspiring innovators and tech enthusiasts. The event’s success was further amplified by the presence of an expert jury panel comprising key product leaders from Epson’s printing and scanning devices division. Additionally, the jury was strengthened by the inclusion of the former Head of Commercial at Github, the former Global Partnership Leader for Conversational AI at AWS, and Mr. Junkichi Yoshida, COO of Printing Solutions at Seiko Epson Corporation and Chairman of the Epson Innovation Challenge.
“We’ve selected a fantastic mix of over twenty participants for the hybrid Challenge consisting of startups, developer teams, and innovative individuals. To ensure their success, we have provided unwavering support from Epson’s Digital Innovation team, guiding them to seamlessly integrate with the Epson ConnectTM API. Moreover, our participants have been empowered with invaluable workshops on lean product development led by Silicon Valley startup coach Steve Adelman. But that’s not all; we’ve also enlisted the expertise of renowned demo pitch coach Nathan Gold, whose mastery has even graced Shark Tank appearances. With such robust backing, our participants were geared up to deliver truly impactful Demo Day pitch presentations that will leave a lasting impression!” – Tim Nguyen, Manager Business Development & Partner Innovation Epson America Inc.
Since 2019, Epson has been actively engaging with the startup community through “HackTrek” hackathons in Japan and global strategic programs to uncover emerging technologies, trends and cutting-edge technology startups. The second U.S. hackathon event challenged innovators to develop solutions in sectors that can benefit from an integrated secure cloud service for scanning and printing such as Artificial Intelligence and Automation, Security and Data Privacy, Hybrid Digital-Physical Environment, Managed Print Services, Customization and Personalization to name a few.
The Demo Day took place on July 20th, 2023 as a hybrid event at the Commonwealth Club with beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay and finalists pitching in person or remote, calling in from across the U.S.
Epson awarded each of the top 3 winning teams with one Epson EF12 projector, along with cash prizes based on rank:
1st Prize: $5,000, 2nd Prize: $2,000 and 3rd Prize: $1,000
Immigrant First – Generative AI products combined with legal specialities to optimize the application process for immigrants
Team Members: Atal Agarwal, Arafat Khan, Bhaskar Gupta
Challenge Focus / Idea:
- The solution is primarily targeted for the use of universities and law firms that are managing large volumes of immigration related paperwork. With a goal to automate most of their processes and leading to an overall positive outcome for their clients.
- Reduced errors and faster processing times for the clients of universities and law firms.
- The team has also begun experimenting on voice-enabled functionalities for an elevated user experience. For users to provide voice commands to the platform to trigger functionalities such as scan or print of a document.
Atal Agarwal, Co-founder of ImmigrantFirst.ai – “Epson’s Innovation Challenge served as an extraordinary platform to exhibit the synergy of ingenuity, technology, and social impact. The highpoint for me was unlocking the transformative power of Epson’s Print and Scan APIs and applying them innovatively to streamline immigration processes – a cause close to my heart as an immigrant in America. The ability to present Immigrant First’s vision of democratizing access to immigration education to an avant-garde organization like Epson was not only an honor but also a powerful validation of the untapped potential that exists when technology is applied to serve human needs.”
StoryTime GPT – Generative AI powered original children storybooks that are customizable and tailored to empower imagination and creativity for children
Team Members: Kritika Bhargava, Harsha Lingampally
Challenge Focus / Idea:
- The solution is targeted to busy caregivers, parents, and educators. Providing them with a tool to engage children creatively and ensure inclusivity.
- The solution aims to reduce digital screen time to avoid negative effects on cognitive development of young children.
- The solution also redefines education and family time by revolutionizing the way children consume and interact with personalized stories.
- The team had outlined also a go-to-market strategy to partner with schools and educational institutions to leverage StoryTime within classrooms.
Kritika Bhargava, Co-founder of TaleTime.App– “Participating in the Epson Innovation Challenge was an enriching experience for us at TaleTime.App. The integration of our StoryTimeGPT app with Epson Connect API now allows users to seamlessly create personalized stories along with unique illustrations that can be easily printed out, thus enhancing the storytelling and reading experience for children. Presenting to Epson’s leadership and the judges opened new avenues of innovation for our company and we look forward to collaborating further to revolutionize educational tools, merging digital creativity with tangible interaction”
SessionScribe – Built a web-based application for optimized distribution of physical transcripts of conferences, meetings, and classes
Team Members: Christopher Smith, Kevin Mora
Challenge Focus / Idea:
- The solution is targeted to event organizers of academic and business conferences who are wary of providing digital copies of transcripts for fear of plagiarism. Protecting their Intellectual Property.
- The solution will also create an additional revenue channel for event organizers and presenters. As they could charge attendees per transcript printer.
- Eventually users are also able to select the sections of the events that they would like to produce a transcript off. Creating a personalized value to full-day or multi-day conferences
Christopher Smith – “As independent developers, we used the Epson Innovation Challenge to combine novel AI software with mature hardware to extend the capabilities of both. We enjoyed building in community with other developers and learned a lot from pushing our limits to building a complete, working web application in under a week. Post-challenge, we’re continuing work to turn SessionScribe from a winning pitch into a winning business.”
Overall the jury members were very impressed with the creativity and quality of the Epson Innovation Challenge #2 participating teams’ solutions and pitches. “It is amazing how we rethink our partnership with startups and the developer community to unlock a world of endless possibilities and to bring new customer experiences and solutions to life that benefits our society,” mentioned Carrie Fox, Director, Product Marketing Scanners, Consumables & Software, Epson America, Inc.
Jeff Zhou, Group Product Manager Epson America Inc., stated: “The Epson Innovation Challenge gives innovators the opportunity to rapidly test their creativity and pitch to our product team at Epson. It was very interesting to see all these very creative ideas from voice to text to print – this is a value chain that people will appreciate.”
“The Epson Innovation Challenge is a great opportunity for our team to directly engage with the developer community, exchange ideas and to get direct feedback on how we can further improve the Epson Connect API” said Jack Rieger, director, Digital Innovation, Epson America, Inc. “We are looking forward to the Epson Innovation Challenge #3 in October, 2023 which is an exciting opportunity for interested developers and teams to showcase their skills and develop innovative solutions to real-world challenges. We will provide more details in the upcoming weeks but interested developers can already register for an Epson Connect™ account.”
“It was fantastic to see the overwhelming interest in the hackathon. We firmly believe that well-designed open innovation programs like the Epson Innovation Challenge serve as an excellent bridge between global organizations and the dynamic developer community and cutting-edge startups. By collaborating in this way, we unlock a world of possibilities, where groundbreaking ideas come to life and innovative solutions are born,” said Christian Litsch, Head of Corporate Innovation Services, Foundry 415 Innovation Group, San Francisco.