Imagine Cup

Winners of Microsoft's Imagine Cup 2012

Registration has opened up for the 2013 Microsoft Imagine Cup for sudents aged 16 and above. The technology competition is in its 11th year, and to more inspire students and encourage a wider variety of aspiring innovators to participate, Microsoft has redesigned the Imagine Cup to cover the World Citizenship, Games and Innovation. If that wasn't enough, the prize money has been raised to $300,000 (US). 

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Winner of the Imagine Cup '12 - quadSquad with enable talk

The annual Imagine Cup organized by Microsoft to support student creativity in solving real world problems has just wrapped in Sidney, Australia. As usual, some of the top winners were related to Windows Phone development so we’re going to take a moment to give them their props.

Early glove prototype

First place (Software Design) – quadSqaud (Ukraine) - In what is probably one of the most unique and coolest uses of a Windows Phone so far, quadSquad have created a company called enable talk (enabletalk.com) around their gesture interpretation technology.

In short, the problem for many people who use sign-language is the inability to readily communicate with those who don’t speak the same language (there are many sign-languages out in the world and they all have the full capacity of spoken language). 

quadSquad solve this problem by having users wear special sensory gloves that detect the signing. That data is then sent to the Windows Phone where the software takes over, converting the sign to spoken word—literally. enable talk uses Microsoft’s text-to-speech feature to “say” the whole word once it’s signed, giving signers a way to verbally communicate with those unfamiliar with the language.

Creating software is one thing but the team also made the glove system by hand (pun!) which is no small feat. Then they had to record all the gestures in a computer that can be stored for later recognition. The whole thing fits well within Microsoft’s Kinect strategy and of course helps address a real-world problem too. Awesome.

The Drexel Dragons won for Game Design (phone) with Math Dash

First place (Game Design—phone) – Drexel Dragons (US) - Ah, math. We hated it in school and we still kind of dislike it as adults but who can deny that it’s not critical? Drexel Dragons took on the challenge of making a game that can help students learn math. What better way to do that than make a game called Math Dash?

Math Dash is a Windows Phone game that allows users to complete problems by dragging the answers (in the form of sparkly ‘atoms’) into the equation field. With the correct answer, users get points for the game and yes, another new math problem. A simple progress bar keeps track of you right versus wrong answers, allowing you to jump to the next level or signaling that you lost. In addition, you can drag number atoms on to other orbs to create new numbers, should you not have the right one to choose. Finally there are also power-ups and hazards to keep it interesting and feeling like a game.

The concept behind Imagine Cup is great—it gives students a chance to shine and actually makes the world slightly better; kudos to Microsoft and all the student developers who come together every year for the competition. Each first-place winning team takes home $8, 000 for their effort.

Check the videos of both winners after the break...

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Although we like playing video games with bombs on our Windows Phone, we have to remember in the real world, bombs and mines are a real problem for war-torn territories.

Evidently a few students at the Military University of Technology in Warsaw have decided to do something about it so they created SAPER. What is SAPER? The name means “minesweeper” in Polish and is also an acronym for “Sensor Amplified Perception For Explosives Recognition.” Yes, that's right,  it uses the magnetometer in Windows Phone to detect bombs, specifically  the magnetic field around an forty different types of explosive material from 30 cm (11.8 inches) away.

In short, you launch the app and let it calibrate in the area you intend to scan. Then waving the phone around it compares the recorded magnetic disturbance signature with other signatures in the database via a cloud-based connection, giving a probable threat cause and even a potential ID of the type of explosive. It even uses Bing Maps to then mark the area for future extraction.

Currently the app is exclusive to Windows Phone and is an Imagine Cup entry though the developers do have plans to extend it to other platforms and potentially extend it to other areas (detecting wires in a wall, body scans, etc.). And no, it's not intended to replace proper mine-sweeping technology but rather to supplant it where it can't be made readily available until a later time.

Certainly this is very impressive stuff and demonstrates just how powerful smartphones can be made--it's a tell tale sign of where things are going in the future. And for once an app on a smartphone will do good for the world instead of just waste time by shooting birds at pigs.

Source: WAT; via Microsoft, Gizmag; Thanks, Bernard M., for the tip!

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Team Lifelens, United States. Team members (not in order): Tristan Gibeau, Cy Khormaee, Wilson To, Jason Wakizaka and Helena Xu.

We've mentioned Team LifeLens before way back in April 2011. The student group won the Microsoft Imagine Cup back in July for Windows Phone with their app for detecting Malaria. The app itself is part of a package that includes the software, hardware lens and computer vision analysis tools and can literally be used for live-Malaria testing on individuals. The data can then be sent "to the cloud" for data banking and further statistical analysis--great for tracking epidemics and the like.

Now, Microsoft is going further with the Imagine Cup project by committing $3 million dollars to the newly created "...three-year...competitive grant program for student technology and social entrepreneurs". Each of the winning teams were given $75 thousand dollars to help get their project to market in addition to

" ...software, cloud computing services, solution provider support, premium Microsoft BizSpark account benefits and access to local resources such as the Microsoft Innovation Centers. Microsoft will also connect grant recipients with its network of investors, nongovernmental organization partners and business partners.

You can watch the video to get an idea of how the app works. It does truly seem useful and it's great to see students (and Microsoft) working towards such a worthy cause using Windows Phones. Check out the other team winners announced yesterday at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland with Bill Gates at the Imagine Cup site.

A big congratulations to Team LifeLens and all the Imagine Cup Grant winners!

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This could well be looking into something that's not there and we're all reading far too much into the above tweet. But, it does seem like the best time for the release of the update and upcoming devices (remember the handsets we covered that were shown at WPC'11?). With iOS5 coming up as well as the rumored iPhone 5, this is the perfect time for Microsoft to provide even the most avid Apple fans with a second choice.

So, this could well be nothing, or it could be a solid hint at a possible date for Mango. What do you think? Sound off in the comments with when you believe Microsoft will bring us Mango, and if you reckon September (or prior, since they mentioned 'by September') is a solid time frame for the release.

Also of interest is once again the reference to "Mango" as 7.5, seemingly confirming what we've suspected for some time now.

And last but not least, the winners for Imagine Cup were announced. We'll just focus on mobile:

  • First Place: Geekologic (France) with 'Brainergy', physics puzzler that requires you to use various equipment to convert renewal energy sources to do work
  • Second Place: Close World Mobile (France) for 'Hilomi' focusing on environmental sustainability
  • Third Place: Team Dragon (United States) for their asthma game 'Azmo the Dragon'

Videos of the winners after the break

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Looks like all sorts of interesting apps are coming out of Imagine Cup 2011 here in New York City. Huffington Post has made a small video focusing on one all-American team, Team Dragon who's Windows Phone app looks to help solve a real world problem, namely asthma in children.

The "game" is called 'Azmo the Dragon' and is a "2D side scrolling" adventure that helps children get their asthma under control. Basically you breathe into a spirometer to power Azmo to fly around (similar to Stormy Weather) which is the fun part, but it also records the child's lung capacity for diagnostic purposes, giving doctors and extra tool to monitor the child's health. (It's not clear how the spirometer connects up to the phone, but that's a different matter).

Anyways, while it's always cool to have games for fun, it's nice to see some youth of today applying their skills in the medical field in an attempt to improve people's lives. [See also: Team LifeLens and Malaria]

Source: Huffington Post

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Imagine Cup is an incredible event where a number of teams battle it out with ideas that use technology to help make the world a better place. This is the first time it has been held in the US and it's a rather special one with a team from Iraq developing a Windows Phone 7 app that registers and tracks refugees in camps around the world. Being the first team from Iraq to enter the event, the trio have overcome vast challenges to be where they are today. Enji Issa Zain-Alabdin, Kosar Osman Muhammed and Choman Jalal Mustafa (who all study at The American University of Iraq – Sulaimani) are the brains behind the development.

Team Hawk (as they're known) has the goal in speeding up the process where refugees are registered to help get aid to them more efficiently. The app will securely register personnel in a database on a domain owned by the team.

"By using this technology we get rid of the old way of registration which was through paperwork. We believe that paperwork requires time, money, and many employees. And paperwork is not secure, because papers can be lost, burnt or even altered. But in our application the information is securely transferred to the database and we avoid the risk of losing information by securing the database using login credentials. By using our application, we hope governments or NGOs can help refugees and provide humanitarian aids as soon as possible."

Moved by their work thus far? Why not take a few minutes out your time to vote for them? We're not quite sure where part 2 of the interview has got to, but we'll keep an eye out. This project is one of many by a number of developers from a variety of backgrounds and countries all coming together for the good of the world. Check out all the entries here and vote for ones that you believe really make a difference. Voting closes in two days. The winning team will win the People's Choice award and receive $10,000.

Source: XImplosionX

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Microsoft's 2010 Rockstar Award winners received an unexpected surprise to go along with their trophy and prize check, a Windows Phone 7 developers device. The Rockstar Award is presented to a student team that developed the most compelling Windows Phone 7 application for the Imagine Cup 2010.

Team Beastware, Advanced Technologies Academy (a high school in Vegas) students Christian Hood and Eric Lo (ages 17 and 16 respectively), took the prize and are one of the first non-Microsoft developers to get Windows Phone 7 devices.

The winning app, Droid Assault, is a 2D XNA framework based game that uses the phone's accelerometer (simulated for the PC by using a Wii controller) for navigation and you fly through space shooting down enemy ships and dodging their bombs. 

A total of 131 teams submitted apps for consideration and you can find a list of the runner's up here.  Team Beastware plans on fine tuning Droid Assault and release in on the Windows Marketplace once Windows Phone 7 hits the market. 

Oh and to make you even more jealous of the situation, we've heard that Microsoft is giving the Imagination Cup participants (about 400) complimentary Windows Phone 7 devices when they become available.

Follow the break to see a short interview of the winning team as well as a demo of the game.

[via: windowsteamblog.com]

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