Innovator Showdown Semifinalists and showdown

2015’s Innovator Showdown, image courtesy of RootsTech

This time next week I’ll be in Salt Lake City, walking around with a giddy feeling in my stomach. Having looked forward to and prepared for RootsTech for it for months, I’ll be trying to absorb all the family history, storytelling, and technical insight I can.

A highlight of the RootsTech conference will be the Innovator Showdown. Family history innovators from all over the globe compete for $100,000 in cash and prizes. For attendees, it’s like watching a Shark Tank for family history technology. In other words, way cool and fun.

Currently, there are twelve Innovator Showdown Semifinalists. By Thursday, February 4, that field will be narrowed to six. At that point, conference attendees get a big say in who wins the grand prize and bragging rights.

Of the twelve innovations, five platforms help record memories and family stories. Three are journaling applications. By my count, that’s a total of eight that address some aspect of storytelling.

It’s no surprise. RootsTech has a long history of encouraging the telling of the stories that bring family history alive. In fact, past Innovator Showdown winners include  Storyworth and Saving Memories Forever.

Innovator Showdown Semifinalists

Here’s a brief run-down (my takeaway of their apps for the average user) of the Innovator Showdown Semifinalists.

Ancestor Cloud allows users to crowd source information from other researchers. It provides a system for users to offer a reward for research, such as archive lookups. Ancestor Cloud allows researchers to obtain local information without travel. See Ancestor Cloud’s submission.

Famicity is a private family tree site plus. It hosts genealogical information and research and acts as a repository of family legacies. Family members can upload stories, photographs, and personal mementos. See FamCity’s Submission.

GenSoup, an online platform for Europeans, helps build family trees and aid research. GenSoup also hopes to make new records available to the European market by partnering with non-profits and governments. See GenSoup’s submission.

JRNL, a journaling app, helps users “capture, store, organize and reflect” on life in journals that can be shared across devices or published through JRNL’s interfaces. JRNL encompasses journaling prompts and allows collaboration. See JRNL’s submission.

Kindex’ tagline says it all. “Index Your History: Create a searchable archive that brings your family’s handwritten records out of obscurity.” This app allows users to attach crowdsourced family mementos to FamilySearch profiles. See Kindex’ submission.

Legacy Scribes turns hand-written journals into digital text for permanent archival. Rather than using a handwriting recognition system, Legacy Scribes trains typists who not only transcribe, but tag the digital records. Read Legacy Scribes’ submission.

Scribbitt  is a “journaling tool that leverages the power of social. As individuals journal, they connect with others. Read Scribbitt’s Submission.

Studio (by Legacy Republic) has developed a technology to digitize photo albums and scrapbooks without disassembling them. Using the iPhone 6s as a scanner, it applies algorithms to correct for page bends and reflections. Studio will also enhance photos. Read Studio’s submission.

Tap Genes helps families compile a family medical history by enabling crowdsourcing. It also “helps family members understand what steps they can take to live healthier together.” Read Tap Genes’ submission.

The Family History Guide is a free website designed to help newcomers get started with family history by providing instruction and resources. It even includes group instruction resources. Read The Family History Guide’s submission.

The History Project compares itself to a reinvented time capsule. This platform enables individuals to collect photos and memories and assemble them into a unified narrative. Read The History Project’s submission.

Twile helps users turn their family tree into a visual timeline, making “family history more exciting and engaging for the whole family.” The interactive timeline is composed of milestones and uploaded memories. Read Twile’s submission.

Your Turn:

Which innovations appeal to you? Which would you explore?

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