So the Microsoft Imagine Cup
– Heard of it? What is it and why should you read this?!
Well, it’s a globally recognised technology competition where student teams are challenged to solve some pretty tough global problems.
And just recently we had some of our students compete in it and place really well.
So a quick overview of Microsoft Imagine Cup 2011
• Now in its 9th year
• Finals in July 2011, New York.
• Over 300, 000 student participants from 142 countries
• 280 submissions from New Zealand
• 2 AUT teams in the Top 20 (combination of students from AUT, University of Auckland, Massey University)
So what did our student teams put forward?
- a phone application using existing GSM
infrastructure to communicate to electrical outlets in the home.
- a semantic cell phone solution for emergency responders. The semantic web
interface enables rescuers to retrieve relevant information whilst being presented with the best available options.
Why are they cool?
Well imagine you’re overseas sunning yourself on a beach working on your tan-lines and you’ve left the toaster going – no seriously you have a toaster that just goes and goes. It’s crazy – you really question why you ever bought such a stupid toaster! Anyway, don’t panic cause you can just pick up your phone and so long as you can get a 3G
signal, Homelink tells it to switch off. You can do it with any appliance you hook into the system.
Or you’re despatched to a disaster area. You’ve no clue about the area, don’t speak the language and you’ve got to get some pretty badly hurt victims to the nearest hospital pronto. Semantek picks up your location, takes into account the damages on roads, etc and gives you the quickest route to the nearest hospital.
How did these guys come up with such a concept and how did they develop it?
“One word: Serendipity
! During a rather heated discussion at a cafe, when we were talking about what kind of issues we should target, we saw a poor ol’ guy in a wheelchair almost fall over and it was a lightbulb moment. Independence = Confidence! And that’s when we decided we should focus on giving independence to the disabled and the elderly and the result as you see it here today is Homelink. We had a blast putting it altogether, thankfully more ups than downs and the plan now is to expand. We’re starting our own company.”
With so much information on the semantic web, the team was really excited to translate theory into practice. The idea: to have a programme that gave users desired information without having to trawl through every webpage. Karen sent 6 proposals; 2 made it to the Top 60 and 1 in final Top 20. “It was the one I had no clue about so I put the word out and met with Alain and Ben and as they say, the rest is history.”
So are these guys going for gold next year or what?
“We are definitely entering next year’s comp! We’ll go BIG – we want that cup, we want the fame!! More students should enter this – especially from AUT. It’s fun, you meet cool people and it really gets your brain engaged in real-world application of what you’re studying.”
“Some of us are graduating so it’ll be a different team but yes, definitely interested to enter again. It’s been invaluable!”
Who is team Unite?
1. Mohit Singh, 4th Year, Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) Electrical and Electronics - Team Leader
2. Moksha Shah, 3rd Year, Bachelor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences
3. Mohammed Al-Busaidi, 4th Year, Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) Electrical and Electronics
4. Kalyan Chilukuri, 4th Year Bachelors of Engineering (Hons) Electrical and Electronics, University of Auckland
Who is team Semantek?
1. Karen Chance – postgraduate student, School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences
2. Alain Homewood – postgraduate student, School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences
3. Ken York – postgraduate student, Institute of Information and Mathematical Sciences, Massey University