Ireland’s winning Microsoft Imagine Cup team in EU capital

8 Nov 2011

Team Hermes celebrates their win at the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2011 global finals in New York in July. Left to right, James McNamara, Matthew Padden, Calum Cawley and Aíne Conaghan

The winning IT Sligo team Team Hermes, which competed against 350,000 students from 183 countries to win one of the world’s most prestigious student technology awards, is today in Brussels to showcase their black box technology for cars to European Parliament.

The team, comprising Calum Cawley, Aíne Conaghan, James McNamara and Matthew Padden, designed a device that plugs into a car and monitors dangerous driving behaviour and road conditions, providing instant feedback to both the driver and the car owner. The solution uses embedded technology, Windows Phone 7, Bing Maps and the Windows Azure cloud computing platform to change driving habits and reduce road deaths.

Team Hermes won the Irish round of the Microsoft Imagine Cup back in April and then competed in the global finals in New York in July. At the global finals, they won the top prize and were named the winners in the Software Design competition of the Microsoft Imagine Cup, scooping the team US$25,000 to take their project to the next level.
MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher has facilitated today’s visit from IT Sligo to Brussels. As part of today’s visit, the students are meeting with Commissioner for Transport Siim Kallas.

The team is also being given a tour of the European Parliament, and will visit Microsoft’s European Cloud and Interoperability Centre in Brussels.

Finding solutions to real-world problems

Speaking from Brussels, MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher, said it was a great achievement for the IT Sligo team triumphing in the Imagine Cup.

“They deserve full recognition for their innovative work. The purpose of the Microsoft Imagine Cup is to find solutions to real-world problems. In this context, I am delighted that the EU Commissioner for Transport Siim Kallas is able to meet with them to discuss their new black box technology for cars that is capable of recording details of road crashes and generally monitoring driving behaviour,” he added.

Paul Rellis, Microsoft Ireland managing director, said the Microsoft Imagine Cup shines a light on incredible innovative students around the world each year.

“This year we were delighted that the winning team for this year’s competition came from Ireland,” said Rellis.

“It’s a great sign of the talent that is being developed in Irish universities in the technology sector. There has been great interest in the student’s project and this trip to Brussels is one of a number of key meetings that the team has had since winning. We’re looking forward to seeing how the project develops,” added Rellis.

A winning formula for Ireland and Europe

Speaking this morning, Cawley said the team’s success at the Microsoft Imagine Cup wasn’t just a win for Ireland, but also a win for Europe.

“We’re delighted to have the opportunity to come to Brussels to meet with European representatives like the European Commissioner for Transport, Siim Kallas. The high incidence of death by road accidents isn’t just an Irish issue, it’s a problem all over Europe, and this is a fantastic opportunity for us to share our ideas on how road safety can be improved with top European policy makers,” Cawley said.

The 2012 Microsoft Imagine Cup Competition is now open for entries.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic