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.

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 NeaSoft (Italy)

Raffaele-Sergio-Clemente-MartaToday, I’d like to introduce you to Team NeaSoft from Italy, and their project OMCR.

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.

Imagine Cup 2011–IT Challenge–Sinescu Ionut (Romania)

Ionut SinescuOne 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.

For more on Sinescu, feel free to check out his blog (in Romanian), or visit him on Facebook.