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 from Arizona State University was featured in an interview with the BBC and were introduced by Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft.
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 without 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
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.
Ballmer 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.
To 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.
Jeffrey 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 sticking 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.
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:
- Team Argitech of Spain
- Team NeaSoft of Italy
- Team Note-Taker of the United States
- IT Challenge Competitor Sinescu Ionut of Romania
- Team Software4Life of Spain
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.
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.
Team NeaSoft hails from Naples, Italy, and their team name means “New Software.” (Nea meaning “new” in Greek.) The team is lead by Clemente Giorio, a current Microsoft Student Partner, and is joined by Raffaele Galiero, Marta Ponari, and mentor Sergio Di Martino. Clemente and Raffaele are students at Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, and Marta is a student at Seconda Università degli Studi di Napoli.
With over 16 million people in the European Union suffering from motor disabilities, Team NeaSoft is working to bridge the digital divide to enable these individuals to communicate, learn, and be entertained.
OMCR (Oculorum Moto Computer Regere) aims to be a tool of expression for those with disabilities. Team NeaSoft is aiming to simplify the computing experience for those that currently do not have the ability to use a computer.
For more on Team NeaSoft, stay tuned here, July 8th-13th, and join them on Facebook to keep up-to-date.
One of the best things about the Microsoft Imagine Cup is the variety of competition categories that span all of Microsoft’s technologies. One such category is the IT Challenge.
The IT Challenge tests competitor’s skills and knowledge about everything IT. Competitors are given a case study on an organization and have to write a document telling the judges exactly how they would meet this organization’s needs. If they do well and move on to the final round, the competition heats up.
From the Microsoft Imagine Cup website:
“This lab will challenge you to build servers, server images, and configurations on a Hyper-V host server to prove your practical knowledge and experience with the technologies. You will be asked to setup, install, and demonstrate knowledge and expertise around Windows 2008 R2, Exchange 2010, Windows 7, Office 2010, System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2, System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2, TMG 2010, SQL 2008 R2, Office Communications Server 2007 R2, etc. You will be given 24 hours to complete the hands-on lab challenge.”
One such competitor is Sinescu Ionut, a student at Alexandru Ioan Cuza University in Romania. Sinescu will be competing against five other students in what Sincescu calls “a one man show” of information technology excellence.
Earlier this week, I introduced you to the first of five teams competing in the 2011 Microsoft Imagine Cup, Team Note-Taker. Today, I’m going to introduce you to Team Software4Life from Spain.
Team Software4Life is made up of Cristian, team mentor, and Luis, Pedro, Cesar, and Gonzalo. Their project is called WaterSense, and the goal is to streamline the availability of drinking water. Why is a project like this needed, you ask? In some areas of the world, drinking water is not as plentiful as it is in developed nations.
WaterSense aims to change this with their 3-part solution. The first part is WaterSense Mobile. This is a tool designed to be used by volunteers in developing countries to identify potential water shortages. The second component is WaterSense NGO. This is what is used by NGOs to examine and analyze the data collected by volunteers through WaterSense Mobile. The final piece is a social component called WaterSense FB. This component lives on Facebook and enables users to see where projects are going on and enables users to donate and track where their donations are going.
This is one project that I am incredibly curious to see in person. Water is an absolute necessity for life, and I believe that any project that can bring clean drinking water to those who need it is worthy of praise.
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, 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.
The 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.)