IT Sligo team wins at Microsoft Imagine Cup 2011

14 Jul 2011

A group of students from IT Sligo has won the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2011 – a world student technology competition – in the software design category, in New York.

The IT Sligo team,’Team Hermes’, beat groups from the US, China, Jordan, New Zealand and Romania in the final.

Team Hermes, made up of students from IT Sligo’s schools of engineering, business and arts, developed software to help prevent vehicle crashes. The students researched statistics on road safety and discovered the data was lacking real-time analysis for any given accident. As a result, the group developed an in-car road system that communicates data from the device in the car to a mobile phone. This data will then be uploaded to the cloud, acting as an early warning system on erratic driving behaviour.

“We have a problem in Ireland; that problem is deaths on our roads,” said Team Hermes member James McNamara. “Thanks to Microsoft and the Imagine Cup, we’ve been able to come together to solve this problem and save lives.”

The theme at this year’s Microsoft Imagine Cup was to imagine technology that could solve the world’s toughest problems, and Microsoft also unveiled plans to launch a three-year, US$3m competitive grant programme to help recipients realise their vision of solving the world’s toughest problems.

More than 350,000 students from 183 countries had registered for the competition to take on social issues, such as disaster recovery, access to clean water and rural education, using technology. Categories included software design, embedded development and game design.

In the Embedded Development category, Team NTHUCS from Taiwan won first place and $25,000 (U.S.). Its project, RIGHT!! This Way, computes the safest fire escape routes, detected by a wireless sensor network in real time.

In the Game Design category, there were three subcategories in which teams competed; all winners focused on some element of environmental sustainability. In Game Design — Mobile, Team Geekologic, from France, focused on renewable energy. In Game Design — Web, Poland’s Team Cellardoor created the “Book of Elm,” which encourages players to take care of the environment. And in Game Design — Windows/Xbox, Team Signum Games, from Brazil, solved urban problems including health, education and the environment through a strategy game. Each first-place team earned US$25,000.

Some 124 student teams had secured their places at the 8-13 July Worldwide Finals event in New York, competing for a US$215,000 prize.

“The innovators, entrepreneurs and humanitarians who compete in the Microsoft Imagine Cup have developed an inspiring spectrum of projects, raising the bar higher and higher each year,” said S. Somasegar, senior vice-president, Developer Division, Microsoft.

“We are in awe of the students’ solutions for addressing social and real-world challenges, and want to help them take their projects to the next level with the financial, technical and business support they need to change the world.”

Photo (left to right): IT Sligo’s Team Hermes – Matthew Padden, Calum Cawley, Aíne Conaghan and James McNamara