Awesome Contest Announcment–Kinect for Schools

Teachers, this one is for you.

Microsoft has announced the Kinect for Schools contest. They are giving away four (4) Xbox 360 + Kinect packages between now and May 14th, 2012.

What’s included:

  • One (1) Xbox 360 Kinect 250GB Bundle. Approximate Retail Value (ARV) $399.00.
  • Two (2) Kinect Video Games. Approximate Retail Value (ARV) $99.98.
    • Games will be selected from the following titles: Dance Central, Body & Brain, or Sesame Street.

Drawing schedule:

January 23 to February 14
Winner selected on February 15th, noon Pacific Time 
February 15 to March 14
Winner selected on March 15th, noon Pacific Time 
March 15 to April 14
Winner selected on April 15th, noon Pacific Time
April 15 to May 14
Winner selected on May 15th, noon Pacific Time

If you’re a teacher and you want an Xbox 360 for your classroom this a great opportunity to enter and win.

To enter go to http://www.microsoft.com/education/en-us/kinectsweepstakes/Pages/default.aspx

For official contest rules – http://download.microsoft.com/download/C/4/5/C45EB9D7-7685-4AFD-85B3-DC66F79277AB/Kinect_School_Sweepstakes_Official_Rules.pdf

Imagine Cup 2011 Featured on CNN America Morning

The Imagine Cup was featured Friday morning on CNN’s America Morning. Steve Ballmer along with several Imagine Cup participants went to CNN’s New York studios. Interview posted below,

Team Note-Taker featured in BBC interview

Team Note-Taker from Arizona State University was featured in an interview with the BBC and were introduced by Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft.

Team Note-Taker from Arizona State University interviewed by BBC

Team Note-Taker presents at Imagine Cup 2011

IMG_0334Today, Team Note-Taker from Arizona State University, presented to the judges in the first round of the 2011 Imagine Cup.

David Hayden, Michael Astrauskas, Shashank Srinivas, and Qian Yan, spoke to a four person panel about the Note-Taker project.

The Note-Taker was conceived in 2007 as a way for David Hayden to solve a challenge he was having. He had added a Mathematics major to an existing Computer Science major and was struggling to keep up with the pace of note taking (12 whiteboards in 45 minutes sometimes!) due to having low-vision. He wasn’t going to let this get in the way of pursuing his passion so he developed the Note-Taker.

The Note-Taker is a hardware / software combination that allows its users to easily take notes IMG_0284without needing outside assistance. Note-Taker combines a USB connected camera with pan / tilt / zoom functionality, a Microsoft Office OneNote 2010 add-in, and a tablet PC into an all in one solution.

One might wonder why not use an existing assistive technology. The problem with existing technologies are that they have what the team calls “board-note-board” delay. This is the delay that occurs when one looks at the board, down to write notes, and then back up to the board again. Note-Taker eliminates this delay because the user stayed focused on their tablet PC and a split screen view shows their notes and the video that the camera is seeing.

The team sees their project as a way to improve access to education for low-vision individuals. According to statistics presented by the team fewer than 40% of the 20 million low-vision individuals in the United States participate in the workforce. Team Note-Taker believes that this is due to the lack of access to education. Through Note-Taker, low-vision individuals now have a way to access education and improve their quality of life.

Note-Taker successfully made it through the first round of competition, and we will find out this evening at 8PM EST if they move on to the finals.

Imagine Cup 2011–Day 1–Opening Ceremony

Imagine Cup 2011 – Day 1

Tonight in New York City, Steve Ballmer along with Jon Perera, General Manager of Microsoft Education, Arthur VanderVeen, CEO of the Office of Innovation at the New York Department of Education, Jeffrey Sachs, director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and Dennis Crowley, co-founder and CEO of Foursquare officially opened the 2011 Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals.

The energy in the room was electric. The passion and the excitement from the students here is incredible. As soon as Ballmer’s name was announced the noise level in the room intensified. It was crazy.

IMG_0086Ballmer talked to the students about how they are in a business that is constantly working to change the world. He talked about the importance of the cloud and the impact it is having on the world and the students’ projects by enabling real time collaboration, commerce, and social interaction. Ballmer also talked about how devices of the future would be dynamic, faster performing, and include more sensors and do more things. Ballmer also mentioned that Natural User Interfaces would open up new possibilities and enable even more people to use computers.

IMG_0149IMG_0124To close out his remarks, Ballmer gave the students three key pieces of advice. The first is that ideas matter. When you come up with an idea make note of it. Stick with it. The second is to be passionate about what your idea and what you do. The third is to be tenacious. Don’t give up. Stick with it and see the idea through until the end.

IMG_0154Jeffrey Sachs then came to the stage and talked to the students about how the world has changed and there are many challenges that we face. These challenges range from strain on world food supplies to population growth, climate change, hunger, and others. He told students they were being given a lifetime homework assignment, and that this assignment was to find ways to better the world and to solve these tough challenges.

To close out the evening, Dennis Crowley came to the stage and talked to the students about IMG_0186sticking with their ideas and seeing them through. He talked about his experience with startups and said that Foursquare’s success is “built off of 10 years of failure.” He told students to never give up on their ideas and that even if the present wasn’t the best time for their idea, it could be a year from now, two years for now, or even ten years from now, but to be persistent and stick with it.

Tomorrow the competition begins.

Taking a bite out of the Big Apple

I’ve arrived in New York City for the 2011 Microsoft Imagine Cup. For those of you just joining us, the Microsoft Imagine Cup is the premier student technology competition. I tend to tell people that it’s the Olympics of technology.

At the Imagine Cup, the top students from around the world come together to compete against each other in categories such as Software Design, Game Design, Embedded Development, and the Windows Phone 7 challenge just to name a few.

I’ll be here covering five teams and their progress throughout the Worldwide Finals. My teams are as follows:

The Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals begin this Friday, July 8th and end Wednesday, July 13th.

For more on Imagine Cup please visit www.imaginecup.com, or search for #ImagineCup on Twitter. You can also follow me on Twitter, @tziegmann, to follow along this week as well.

Imagine Cup 2011–Team Argitech (Spain)

Argitech_Team

As we near the start of the 2011 Imagine Cup World Finals next week, it’s time to introduce the final team in this series.

Please extend a warm welcome to Team Argitech of Spain. The members of Team Argitech are Aitor Akizu Santacruz, Javier Sierra Navarro, Josu Lopex Olivenza, and mentor Xabier Mardaras.

Team Argitech is competing in the Embedded Development category with their project, Smart Light.

Smart Light is a management system for use with public street lighting systems. By gathering real-time data, the lighting grid can dynamic enable or disable lighting based on need. The premise of the system is that power consumption can be reduced thereby saving municipalities money.

I’m intrigued by their project, and I’m excited to see it in person and learn more. I see some real potential here.

For more about Team Argitech and Smart Light, stay tuned right here July 8th-13th.