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During a unique, one-day sprint held in Tel Aviv earlier this year, a group of Cornell Tech masters students built an app that the Tel Aviv Municipality wants to develop and implement for use throughout the city.

The new augmented reality app, AiR, will incentivize Tel Avivians to adopt environmentally friendly habits by performing specific tasks to accumulate rewards – such as free coffee and other similar perks – that can be redeemed at local businesses.

The ideation sprint, sponsored by MindState, was part of Cornell Tech’s annual iTrek program and consisted of a selection of top tier Israeli creative talent including ironSource, Wix, and Waze. Company representatives worked alongside the students from Cornell Tech – home of the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute.

iTrek is a 10-day trip during the January academic recess which provides students of varying backgrounds an opportunity to be exposed to and learn about the growing economy of innovation in Israel with a focus on the established startup ecosystem.

At the event, the 60 multi-disciplinary students and accompanying creative professionals were divided into groups to explore the social and cultural fabric of Tel Aviv’s urban environment using data, technology, design, and business strategy. Each team tackled one theme of a five pronged brief: Talk with the City, Move Around the City, Chill in the City, Breathe in the City, and Die in the City.

The hard work and collaborative efforts of those involved in the event resulted in the creation of the three winning apps: Flock, AiR, and Capsule.

The first place winner was Flock, one group’s response to the prompt “Chill in the City.” Flock is an app that creates custom, real time experiences personalised for the user based on his/her preferences and attributes. The application curates events at a location of the user’s choice and clusters others with matching preferences, ensuring no one ever misses out on a social experience in their city.

“Throughout the process I was constantly surprised by the multi-disciplinary team’s ambition to surpass our initial goals and resilience against challenges in building a full-fledged prototype and strong business plan,” said Flock team member Ishan Virk, Technion-Cornell Dual Master’s Degrees in Health Tech ’21.

Despite being the second place winner, AiR was the only creation from the MindState challenge to be picked up by the Tel Aviv Municipality. The challenge group created this app from the prompt “Breathe in the City.” The group was comprised of members Alana Lipson, Shaine Leibowitz, Mikaela Brown, Mark O’Looney, Miakel Williams, Danit Acker, Yossi Abodi, Yamit Haddad, and Samuel Regev.

“I am excited about developing the AiR app because it can make a positive impact on the city of Tel Aviv and improve the lives of our citizens,” said Gidi Schmerling, Tel Aviv Municipality’s Director of Communications. “Tel Avivians are forward thinking people and I am confident they will enjoy trying out this new app.”

Capsule, the third place winner, was created in response to the prompt “Die in the City. This application allows families to store and share memories – including location based memories, such as the local Tel Aviv bench where grandparents had their first kiss –  from one generation to the next. Using GPS, Capsule notifies the user when he/she is near a meaningful place.

This event was staged by MindState with the purpose to explore how changing mindsets can lead to global change. MindState’s methodology in the creation of this challenge was to bring together creative students from different cultural backgrounds and disciplines to collaborate in short sprints of solving challenges, developing thoughts and ideas, and ultimately bringing about change.