Google competition calls for innovation

By Phil Collins

This fall students across the country have a chance to gain recognition from one of the Internet’s most widely used search engines. The Google Gadget Awards invite university students to submit a gadget – a small HTML based tool – to be used on Google’s personalized homepages.

Gadgets are a “really fancy name for something people are already doing,” said Adam Sah, architect for Google Gadgets. They only take up about one tenth of the full screen and no tools, programs or training are necessary to make one, he added.

Basic gadgets could tell the user the date and time or the weather. They can become as complex as full-fledged applications but most often are much simpler.

The gadgets will be judged on seven categories: best desktop gadget overall, best universal gadget overall, most useful gadget, most intelligent gadget, gadget most likely to help the user get a date, most addictive gadget and prettiest gadget.

Sah said the categories were designed to encourage different types of creativity.

Judges include Editor-in-Chief of Wired magazine Chris Anderson; President of Stanford University John Hennessy; and CEO and founder of splendora.com Gina Pell, among others.

Winners will be promoted on every Google personalized homepage and will receive a trophy.

Winning this competition would definitely help someone get a job, said Samuel Kamin, director of undergraduate studies and associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University.

The contest winner would gain “a geeky sort of prestige,” he added.

The deadline for submission is Nov. 1 and the winners will be announced in December on the Gadget Awards winners page. Gadgets can be modified after submission and only the most recent version of the gadget will be judged.

For this reason, Sah encourages students to submit early and to use their gadgets. By using their gadgets, students can discover ways to improve them. In addition, the gadget used most often will receive an award, so those submitted later will have less time to achieve that feat.

This award also functions as a way for users to tell Google what is important, he said.

“This gives us a chance to become really creative,” said Amy Chow, President of Women in Electrical and Computer Engineering and junior in Engineering.

Google has recently made headlines with its $1.65 billion acquisition of YouTube.

“Google needs to continue innovating at an absolutely blistering pace,” Sah said.

Since 2004, Google has added an e-mail service called Gmail along with the Google Video, Maps and Desktop Search features, among others.

“They do different things in a way other companies wouldn’t,” Chow said.

The corporation makes sudden and unexpected moves, which make it memorable, she added.

The Gadget Awards are new this year and Sah said he does not know how many submissions to expect because many students will likely wait until close to the deadline to enter.

“I can’t wait to see what people come up with,” he said.

For more information about gadgets, submissions and contest rules, visit www.google.com/gadgetawards.