Maynooth to spearhead Ireland’s bid for Imagine Cup

27 Apr 2007

Students from NUI Maynooth were announced yesterday as the finalists in the Microsoft Imagine Cup, which will be held in Seoul, South Korea this August.

InGest (Interactive Gesture) were chosen from over 200 students in colleges and universities who entered the competition from both the North and South of Ireland. This is the first year for Ireland to enter the Imagine Cup.

“It was a tough competition and we were very impressed by the exceptional quality and standard overall. We felt that InGest’s work reflected a valuable, real-world solution and we have high hopes for them at the global final in Seoul,” said Joe Macri, Managing Director of Microsoft Ireland.

Through the Imagine Cup we hope to further encourage students to pursue careers in technology and the sciences by demonstrating the practical and innovative applications of their work,” he said.

The winner’s project, InGest, is an educational tool aimed at teaching sign language in an intuitive and interactive way. First, there are a variety of tutorials depending on the learner’s level of understanding of sign language.

The user watches 3D hand gesture animation on a special interface, and can then practice the signs with a motion capture glove or camera. This system also allows users to chat online using sign language.

Students from the University of Ulster came second with their project, Phonics Fun, a children’s learning game that creates a virtual world in which the child learns in an abstract way through sound patterns of letters and words.

NUI Maynooth also took the third place in the Irish finals, with Sleepy Oranges, a program aimed at teaching westerners how to learn the Chinese language through focusing on the pronunciation of words, tones and inflections.

As Irish finalists, Ingest received a Lenovo laptop each and their college will receive €1,000. However, the winners of the Imagine Cup in Seoul this summer will receive prize money from a total of more than €130,000.

By Marie Boran