X Prize luminaries Google, NASA, GE and others define world's 8 biggest problems

X Prize Foundation experts look to define future multi-million dollar competitions to solve real-world problems

James Cameron outlines marine idea
The X Prize Foundation got together some of the world's big brains this month to come up with a list of the world's greatest technical challenges and what sorts of competitions the foundation can create to address them.

The X Prize Foundation said more than 50 prize concepts were generated - everything from developing clean drinking water to increasing stem cells research, building better bionics, and increasing wireless power transmission - then debated and ultimately melded into a top eight list that will serve to guide the Foundation's work over the next 12 months.

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The following are the eight X Prize concepts or challenges:  

1. Water ("Super 'Brita' Water Prize") - Develop a technology to solve the world's number one cause of death: Lack of safe drinking water.

2. Personal Health Monitoring System ("OnStar for the Body Prize") - Develop and demonstrate a system which continuously monitors an individual's personal health-related data leading to early detection of disease or illness.

3. Energy & Water from Waste - Create and demonstrate a technology that generates off-grid water and energy for a small village derived from human and organic waste.

4. Around The World Ocean Survey - Create an autonomous underwater vehicle that can circumnavigate the world's oceans, gathering data each step of the way.

5. Transforming Parentless Youth - Dramatically and positively change the outcome for significantly at risk foster children, reducing the number of incarcerations and unemployment rate by fifty-percent or more.

6. Brain-Computer Interface ("Mind over Matter") - Enable high function, minimally invasive brain to computer interfaces that can turn thought into action.

7. Wireless Power Transmission - Wireless transmission of electricity over distances greater than 200 miles while losing less than two percent of the electricity during the transmission.

8. Ultra Fast Point-To-Point Travel - Design and fly the world's fastest point-to-point passenger travel system.

X Prize said it will now look for funding to develop detailed prize concepts, guidelines and business plans for each selected competition. The full prize design process can take from six to eight months to complete for each prize concept, the group stated.

The X Prize "Visioneering Workshop" included Eric Schmidt (Chairman, Google); Dean Kamen (creator of FIRST and Segway); Ratan Tata (Chairman, Tata Group); Pete Worden (NASA Ames); Aneesh Chopra (U.S. CTO); Naveen Jain (CEO, Intelius); Dan Hesse (CEO, Sprint); Carl Bass (CEO, Autodesk) as well as entertainment industry luminaries, including James Cameron (Avatar, Titanic); will.i.am (The Black Eyed Peas); Jim Gianopulos (Chairman & CEO, Fox Filmed Entertainment); Lyn and Norman Lear; and Ali Velshi (CNN). Also participating were senior executives of General Electric, General Motors, Novartis, Celgene, Shell, Kauffman Foundation, PepsiCo, and Qualcomm.

X Prize competitions in the past have included the $10 million Ansari X Prize and accelerating the ultra, fuel-efficient vehicle market through the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize and the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize, the competition to put a robot on the moon by 2015. Also onlgoing is the $1.4 Million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X Challenge, which hopes to attract  teams from around the world to develop technology  that can rapidly clean up oil spills.

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