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–Team Note-Taker (USA)

Imagine-Cup-2011

The Worldwide Finals of the 2011 Imagine Cup by Microsoft will be upon us in about three weeks. Over these next few weeks, I’ll be introducing you to some select teams that will be competing July 8th-13th in New York City.

Today, I’ll be introducing Team Note-Taker. Team Note-Taker is based out of the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC) at Arizona State University.

Led by team leader David Hayden and Mentor John Black,5607507820_f581754579_z along with Shashank Srinivas, Michael Astrauskas, and Qian Yan, Team Note-Taker has created a portable assistive device consisting of a robotic camera, a tablet PC, and Microsoft OneNote 2010.

Inspiration for this project comes from David Hayden who is legally blind and decided he was not going to let his blindness get in the way of pursuing a dual degree in both Computer Science and Mathematics.

notetaker-prototypesThe Note-Taker presents its users with a split-screen view of live video from the camera and a Microsoft OneNote notebook. By using gestures (pinch to zoom, tap to focus, etc.) users can control the camera and take notes at the same time.

By using a solution such as the Note-Taker, students who are vision impaired can reduce the time and struggle in keeping up with their sighted peers in classes.

The Note-Taker is an innovative approach combining software and hardware in an easy to use way and at an affordable price point.

Team Note-Taker took first place in the Software Design category of the US Imagine Cup finals. Will they take it all the way in New York City? Stay tuned right here to find out!

(All images property of their respective owners. Imagine Cup logo, property Microsoft Corporation, Team Note-Taker photo, property Microsoft Corporation, Note-Taker prototypes photo, property Wired.)

Microsoft software now available to ASU students for free

Hello my fellow Sun Devils! This post is specifically for you.

As an ASU student you can get access to over 300 different pieces of Microsoft software for free. Yes, FREE! You’ll have access to such pieces of Microsoft goodness like Windows 7, the entire Expression suite,  and Visual Studio.

All you need to do is be an active ASU student enrolled in a science, technology, education, or math class. (STEM classes for short as they are commonly referred to within the education community.) For a complete list of qualifying courses, click here.

To access the Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance (MSDNAA, for short), you’ll need to follow these steps.

1. Go to the ASU MyApps portal (http://myapps.asu.edu) and login with your ASURITE

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2. In the search box, type in “MSDNAA” (no quotes) and click Search.

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3. Click the “Download from 3rd party” button to login to the MSDNAA portal

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4. Once on the MSDNAA Portal, you can either use the drop-down menu to select the software you are looking for or use the search box to navigate the portal.

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5. Once you have chosen a piece of software, you’ll need to add it to your cart. Click the “Add to Cart” button. If you have multiple pieces of software you want to download, add them to your cart first, and then download them all at the same time. You’ll be prompted with a usage guideline agreement. Read the agreement and click the “I accept” button if you agree to guidelines.

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6. When you are ready to Checkout and download your software, click the “Check Out” button

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7. Fill out your name and e-mail address on the next page, and then click “Next”

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8.  You’ll be shown an confirmation page. To download your software, click the “Download” button

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9. You’ll be taken to a details page. Click the “Download” button. It will ask you to download a small file to your computer. Download this file to your computer. This is how the software will be downloaded. Open the file, and choose a location to download the software.

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10. Click Continue. Your software will download, and you can monitor the progress at the bottom of the download window.

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That’s all there is to it.