Genius Ideas Evolve Amidst a Moroccan Sandstorm

By Savannah Sherwood

Sitting in his sun-dried brick house in the Sahara Desert, a Berber man named Mostaphã found himself getting lost in his thoughts. With a great sandstorm brewing just on the other side of his door, he pondered the few ways he was going to be able to leave his house and embark on a journey to the nearest neighboring village. The air, thick of sand, creates little visibility and is dangerous to travel through. “If only I had a submarine that would transport me underground beneath the sand dunes,” he joked.

Morocco, photo by Savannah Sherwood

Being forced to spend the day indoors, he looked around and noticed the particles of dust permeating the air. With each deep breath brought an influx of dust particles into his lungs. Sighing even louder, he thought, “I wish there were a device that filtered the dust particles floating in the air of my home.”


Desert dust can cause irritation and inflammation in the lungs, with increased symptoms for individuals that have asthma and other respiratory diseases. As technology advances, it is necessary for the development of better and more affordable air filters to help diminish the problem that faces Mustaphã and many other individuals.


The ideas sparked within Mostaphã's troubled mind were then compartmentalized, as he was unaware of the possibility that these devices could potentially be a reality.


Mostaphã is a good friend of mine, living in the heart of the Sahara Desert. These are real ideas that he shared with me during a recent conversation while I was traveling in Morocco.

Berber in Morocco, photo by Savannah Sherwood 

Imagine if these ideas didn’t have to sit dormant in his mind, but instead, could be shared with the world, a world that is occupied by millions of innovators, engineers, creators, students, and dreamers just like him. 


What if Mostaphã's ideas were sparked on an online platform and became competitions open for individuals in all corners of the world to participate and compete?


What if his sparked idea had the following responses?


Imagine if one afternoon, in a board meeting, a team of engineers in California became aware of this competition. Inspired by the potential impact that the technologies could have on the lives of many living in Africa, they decided to pool together their brainpower and resources, striving to discover a solution and new technology that would eliminate the dust particles that linger in the African homes after a sand storm.


In the meantime, a brilliant college student in London is working to wrap his intellect around this competition to see if he can’t find a solution himself. The crowds, individuals who don’t necessarily have the expertise, are cheering on both parties.


The intensity increases as the crowds begin to shape the rules of the competition and starts pitching in money to establish a prize purse for the winner. Before you know it, a scrappy team from Spain learns of the competition from national media sources and proves that they have the solution, winning the prize money. 


Here, we have a stage. On this stage are Mostaphã, the Berber from the Sahara, some individuals who sponsored and shaped the competition, the scrappy team in Spain who discovered the new technology, and a large population of people that benefit from the new technology.


An exciting happening such as this is a reality. HiddenGenius, a community originally based out of Kansas has created a platform that allows anyone in the world to request or spark a technology that would improve their life or the life of someone else. Technology competitions help to level the playing field and certainly keep everyone on the edge of their seats as they watch hidden geniuses around the world competing for the prize purse and media recognition.


Competitions date back centuries. In 1714, the British Government set up a competition for longitude to be measured at sea. Ten thousand pounds as a prize, astronomers and mathematicians raced to find a solution. In 1737, the Board gave the award to John Harrison, a clockmaker, who proved that he had a solution to the problem of longitude. Many success stories show competitions can be the fuel to significant innovations.


What makes HiddenGenius unique is that the crowd gets to help design the goals and rules of the competition and play a direct role in raising the prize sponsorship.  Anyone can participate, not just some sort of academic "expert."


There is a great potential that you, yes you, have something to offer that no one else in the world has. You could be holding the solution to a problem that you may not even know exists. Check out the challenges to see where you might fit in. Whether you compete in a HiddenGenius competition, spark an idea, shape the rules, or help sponsor the prize purse, we are happy to have you join us, a community that is empowered to improve our world for the better through ingenuity. Game on.

Sahara Desert, photo by Savannah Sherwood

(Photos by Savannah Sherwood, the Sahara Desert in Morocco)

The Future of Drones Requires?

By Savannah Sherwood

Imagine that you are driving down the interstate at a high speed of 75 mph. The sun is slowly rising above the horizon, and you are waiting for the caffeine to begin stimulating your brain. You are in route to work, and inevitably, you are running slightly late. With your eyes fixed on the road ahead, you happen to come upon a thick layer of fog wedged between the sky and ground. With little visibility, you begin slowing down to reduce the risk of colliding with other vehicles or objects in the vicinity. Your 30-minute commute quickly becomes 50 minutes as your speed decreases to 55 mph. This situation is not ideal for anyone, particularly as it can lead to a higher risk of accidents or the late arrival to work.

Foggy Road Country

Now envision that the sky is a similar highway. Air traffic is ever seemingly increasing as the sky becomes acquainted with more and more unmanned aircraft. The airspace system is built upon a concept called "See and Avoid." It is a pilot's responsibility to keep his eyes fixed on the outside of the airplane, actively looking for other traffic when weather conditions permit. In the case of an unmanned aircraft, only one pilot can see what is in the path of the drone. Every so often, a pilot encounters weather that inhibits the visibility and ability to see what is ahead. If a drone happened to be flying near an aircraft in such conditions, a collision might occur.


Jet Airplane 


When a drone collides with an aircraft, everyone loses. Not only will the mission be unaccomplished, but also there is the risk of injury or death.

As we veer into the future with drone technology, it is necessary to develop a technology capable of detecting and avoiding light aircraft and other moving objects for drones to fly beyond the line of sight safely.


Drone Clouds


Kurt Barnhart, the associate dean for research and executive director of the Applied Aviation Research Center at Kansas State Polytechnic, said that Sense and Avoid is the most difficult task facing aviation today.

"The Sense and Avoid technology exists in various forms. However, it has not been successfully integrated due to size, weight, tower issues, and other complications," Barnhart said.

HiddenGenius has launched a Drone Sense and Avoid competition in hopes of bringing together the geniuses in the aviation sector to compete and effectively demonstrate a safe, light, cost-effective technology for a small unmanned aircraft system that is less than 55 lbs., which will avoid aircraft and potentially save the lives of many.

Barnhart believes that the premise of a competition is great, "People are working on their solutions in isolation, if we can bring the efforts together, the potential is that people become reenergized and then they do things they might not have thought of otherwise."

“We have visited with many of the top minds in the drone industry, NASA, FAA, drone operators, companies wanting to use drones beyond the line of sight, and pilot organizations. It is evident that sense and avoid is one of the most important technologies for the future of aviation. Many companies are working on this, but proving you can do it in a public competition is powerful” said Trevor McKeeman, founder, and CEO of HiddenGenius.

Want to help change the future of drones, aviation...and other cutting edge tech?  Join the competition today as a competitor, sponsor, or help shape the rules!  Your genius is welcomed!

Aerotenna & Georgia Tech Win $15,000 Drone Competition!

By Trevor McKeeman

Aerotenna & Georgia Tech win $15,000 drone competition!


HiddenGenius & the UTM Convention are proud to announce that Aerotenna & Georgia Tech are the 1st place & 2nd place winners of the first drone sense & avoid technology competition!


Our favorite days at HiddenGenius...are when you get a glimpse into the future...when some small scrappy teams demonstrate technology that has the potential to fundamentally change how the world operates.  Today was one of those days!

Teams from Aerotenna & Georgia Tech demonstrated, in a drone cage, surrounded by a packed crowd of drone industry leaders & policymakers…that they were up to the challenge.  Their drones zipped through a static obstacle course & avoided a dynamic target racing toward them.  They showed the best aspects of the competitive spirit, helping other teams in the pit area & offering words of encouragement.  

Make no mistake, competitors were there to win, bring home the prize money, & gain more visibility with top minds in the drone space.  However, there was a comradery knowing the real race is to tackle the difficult challenge of creating technologies that allow drones to safely fly & avoid collisions autonomously.  This technology will save lives & benefits everyone in aviation.  

Sense & Avoid technology is a must have for the future of drones delivering packages, inspecting critical infrastructure, & flying beyond line of sight.  The Aerotenna & Georgia Tech teams showed just how quickly this technology is advancing.


We particularly want to thank the sponsors & partners that helped make this great event happen including ATCA, CenterState CEO, & UTM Convention organizers.  

Stay tuned for a larger drone sense & avoid competition with a bigger prize & higher stakes!  Sign up as a sponsor, competitor, or help shape the goals & rules of the competition!

HiddenGenius & UTM Convention Announce $15,000 Drone Tech Competition

By Trevor McKeeman

Yahoo Finance Article

SYRACUSE N.Y., Oct. 18, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The UTM Convention 2016 and have partnered to launch a technology competition that demonstrates drone sense and avoid technologies (SAA).

The enormous growth in the number of small UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) has highlighted the tremendous opportunities in this industry. This includes using drones beyond line of sight to monitor the safety of rail track, bridges, and power lines. It also includes package delivery and humanitarian missions.

NASA is leading the research and development of UTM (UAS Traffic Management), and many sense and avoid approaches are under development to address this technology hurdle.

"Many companies and organizations are working on SAA, but there is real power in demonstrating it in an open competition and building public trust," said Trevor McKeeman, CEO of HiddenGenius. He added, "We won't see widespread drone package delivery or flying commercially beyond line of sight without it."

The competition will be held on Nov. 9 in conjunction with UTM Convention 2016 at the Oncenter in Syracuse, N.Y. The $15,000 prize is seen as a small preliminary event.  It will lead into a competition with a much larger prize for tackling the critical challenge of drones sensing and avoiding low flying aircraft. HiddenGenius has announced this larger competition, is partnering with leading sponsors, and is exploring hosting venues.

Competitor and sponsor registration for the UTM Convention 2016 SAA drone competition is open to anyone, but limited in number. For more information visit the UTM Convention, and HiddenGenius competition websites. For specific questions about the competition contact or


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