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  Sunday, November 1 2:46pm PST

Saatchi & Saatchi
Helping the Blind to See
A remarkable new invention wins a $100,000 prize - but for the visually impaired, it should prove priceless

With a grin that spread from ear to ear, a 75-year-old professor from New Zealand last night (Oct. 30) won the inaugural $100,000 Saatchi & Saatchi Innovation in Communication Award.

The award was presented at the State of the World Forum, being held at San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel Grand Ballroom.

Leslie Kay
Saatchi & Saatchi Innovation in Communication Award Winner


Dr. Leslie Kay designed a revolutionary sonar system he calls KASPA, that allows blind people to 'see' with sound. Ultrasonic sound waves are bounced off objects, fed through a control unit and into miniature earphones. The blind user quickly acquires the ability to gauge where objects are located and to grasp them.

Dr. Kay's invention was chosen from 200 deserving entries from 27 countries. The $100,000 prize consists of $50,000 cash and $50,000 in Saatchi & Saatchi services. This is the first year of the award, which will be given annually.

A very grateful and emotional Dr. Kay said the award "makes it possible for me and all those others to make a leap forward in innovation."

Joshua Silver
De Bono Medal Winner


A second award, the de Bono Medal, (given by author and thinker Dr. Edward de Bono for the idea he found to be the most simple, practical and effective) was presented to British scientist and professor Joshua Silver for his self-adjustable spectacles.

The lenses are filled with fluid which can expand or contract, allowing just about anyone to correct their vision by themselves. The glasses are relatively inexpensive to make.

Kevin Roberts, chief executive officer of Saatchi & Saatchi, said the creation of these awards, the selection process and their presentation, had been one of the most exhilarating projects he had been involved in.

"We believe in the power of great ideas to transform people's lives, and we want to do everything we can to celebrate and assist the imagineers of the world."

Saatchi & Saatchi is among the world's leaders in marketing and creative communications with annual billings of more than $7 billion.

The judging panel for the Innovation in Communication Award included astronaut Buzz Aldrin, novelist William Gibson, media proprietor Lachlan Murdoch and others.


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