7 finalists selected for 48Hour Launch business hackathon

The audience listens to presentations at the demo night for 48Hour Launch Chattanooga, where hopeful entrepreneurs give a pitch for their business idea Sunday night at Track 29.

The Company Lab and Mozilla have selected seven teams to compete for prizes in next week's 48Hour Launch: Internet of Things business hackathon.

Projects range from drone-enabled utility repairs to Wi-Fi connected plush toys that allow kids to send and receive voice messages.

The business teams will spend the weekend of Sept. 9-11 developing, revising and pitching their ideas to compete Sunday night for investor support and the chance to win both cash prizes and business assistance.

The finalists for 2016 are:

- Aerial Maintenance is an autonomous drone service that streamlines repairs for utility companies, thus cutting costs by requiring smaller maintenance crews and performing more preventive repairs.

- Chatties is a line of Wi-Fi enabled smart plush toys that allows kids to send and receive voice messages from friends and family members. Built on a verticalized hardware and software platform, Chatties is part of a new generation of social toys that are changing the way children connect through learning-based play.

- Digital Windows is a platform for live streaming real-world activity that students wouldn't normally be able to access. Through partnerships with a variety of organizations, students will have the opportunity to explore the worlds of medical research, policing, travel and more.

- Inclusive Makerspace is a space that provides engaging activities for students of all abilities to explore and create. Developed in partnership with the Red Bank Elementary School Library, this program utilizes the Web to help students with disabilities access the resources and tools necessary to explore their own creativity in an inclusive setting.

- Schoolife is a desk module built for the classroom that allows students to engage in digital learning experiences. This touch-screen system is designed to mimic a physical desk while providing students with access to files such as textbooks and assignments. In addition, the system enables students to engage in real-time communication with teachers during lessons and has the ability to connect with supporting devices like smart phones.

- Stage Genies is a multimedia system designed to sense and respond to dancers and other performers' movements. This project engages 12- to 17-year-old student programmers in writing software for both the camera, which senses motion, and the responses that follow, which could include music, lighting effects and projection.

- ViatoR utilizes virtual reality to submerge users in interactive language learning experiences. While immersive experiences are typically key to learning a foreign language, not everyone has the ability to study abroad. With ViatoR, students get the opportunity to immerse themselves in foreign language environments that are critical to improving fluency.

The first place winner from the contest will get a $1,200 cash prize plus free business counseling and assistance. The second place winner will get $800 in cash plus some free legal and accounting help.

Mozilla will select two individuals to receive free trips to Mozfest in London this October.

"We're very excited to bring our interests and expertise together with the community to create products that will impact both education and our city," said Katie Hendrix, portfolio manager at Mozilla. "This year's finalists submitted an array of amazing, viable ideas. We're looking forward to bringing our finalists together with the community to learn about the Internet of Things and how these technologies will become integral to the way we live and do business in the future."

Established in 2009, 48Hour Launch has evolved into one of the area's leading events for new startup collaboration. Over the last several years, the program has engaged approximately 150 annual participants, activated a total of 65 projects that have raised a combined $4.3 million in capital, and connected teams with free local business services valued at more than $60,000.

A number of major entrepreneurial successes have grown out of 48Hour Launch, including Quickcue - a guest management platform that sold for $11.5 million in 2013 - as well as Society of Work, The UNFoundation and Chatype.