A device that allows deaf individuals to communicate verbally using custom-designed sensory gloves and a smartphone application to translate sign-language gestures into speech has taken top honours in the Software Design Competition at the 10th annual Microsoft Imagine Cup in Sydney, Australia.
Team quadSquad from the Ukraine is behind the device called Enable Talk. It has been one of the entries in the student technology competition that celebrates innovations that address the world’s problems.
The Imagine Cup 2012 competition winners were announced tonight (Sydney time) at the Imagine Cup World Festival and Awards Ceremony at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, in front of 106 student teams. The event topped five days of tech, teamwork and innovation.
More than 350 students from 75 countries – including Irish team docTek – travelled to Sydney after competing in local and online events, to compete in the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals.
Cash prizes totalling about US$175,000 have been awarded across eight competition categories.
Microsoft Imagine Cup winner Enable Talk
Enable Talk uses a pair of gloves equipped with 15 flex sensors and a microcontroller that recognises sign-language patterns, which are then transmitted via Bluetooth to a Windows Phone device that uses the Microsoft Speech API and Bing API to translate the signs into audio. The team won US$25,000.
“We were inspired to help our friends who are hearing- and speech-impaired to have the ability to communicate like everyone else,” said Maxim Osika, team quadSquad. “The Imagine Cup is an amazing experience; we’re thrilled to be here learning from the experts around us.”
Moorthy Uppaluri, general manager, Global Academic Programs, Microsoft, said that over the past 10 years, Imagine Cup participants have applied technology and minds to positively impact their local communities and change the world.
“Whether it’s using the cloud to aid in disaster recovery, inventing technology to make education more accessible to erase the digital divide or making it possible to diagnose medical conditions using mobile phones, the Imagine Cup has inspired students to imagine what once was considered impossible and make it real," Uppaluri said.
All Imagine Cup 2012 Worldwide Finalist teams that competed in Sydney this year are eligible to apply for Imagine Cup Grants, a three-year, US$3m investment by Microsoft to help students turn their ideas into reality.
In addition, through the Microsoft BizSpark programme, Imagine Cup participants can launch start-up businesses in their communities and across the web.
Following is a list of other winners in the 2012 Microsoft Imagine Cup.
Winners in the core Imagine Cup Competitions:
Software Design. Students create innovative software, service solutions and real-world applications that unleash the power of technology to benefit their community or even the entire planet.
• First Place: quadSquad (Ukraine)
Game Design. Students select one of two tracks (Phone or Xbox/Windows) to create games that not only are fun but also help to improve the world at the same time. Each first-place team received US$8,000.
• First Place: TANG Thai (Thailand) focused on protecting the environment and preventing deforestation.
• First Place: Drexel Dragons (United States) created a game to teach math and problem solving in new ways to elementary school students.
Winners of Imagine Cup Challenges
Students were also able to compete in five online challenges for an additional US$75,000 cash, as well as other prizes.
IT Challenge. Students are tested on their knowledge of IT systems and faced with unique scenarios to solve, competing for title of best of the best in the industry.
• First Place: Alexandru Ticlea (Romania)
Kinect Fun Labs Challenge. This challenge asked students to think about entertainment with a social conscience.
• First Place: Team Interlab (Brazil)
Windows Azure Challenge. Students leverage the Windows Azure platform features to build web applications that help solve the toughest problems.
• First Place: Virtual Dreams Azure (Brazil)
Windows Metro Style App Challenge. Students are at the forefront of creating applications for the new Windows 8 platform.
• First Place: Virtual Dreams Metro (Brazil)
Windows Phone Challenge. Students are challenged to create an XAP application that not only will help solve the world’s toughest problems, but that people will also love having on their Windows Phones.
• First Place: Vivid (Egypt)
The People’s Choice Award
Team D Labs from India has won the only Imagine Cup award determined by the public, which includes a US$10,000 prize. D Labs created software to help dyslexic children use games to learn more effectively by using Kinect for Xbox 360. Parents can also track their children’s progress by reviewing data captured by the solution, which is stored on Windows Azure.
Environmental and sustainability projects
Winners of the Health Awareness Award and Environmental Sustainability Award for projects that tackle health and environmental issues. The following winning teams will receive US$10,000:
• Health Awareness Award winners:
First Place: Italian Ingenium Team (Italy)
• Environmental Sustainability Award winners:
First Place: Greenway (Germany)