Congratulations to the Imagine Cup 2012 Winners!

I wish I could be in two places at once, but it was physically impossible for me to be in Australia for the Worldwide Imagine Cup finals. More than 350 students from 75 countries met in Sydney last week to present their technology projects that tackle humanitarian issues including health, accessibility, the environment, education and more. The winning Software Design project was developed by Ukrainian team quadSquad who constructed a pair of gloves with sensors that can translate sign-language gestures into audio.

Imagine Cup is one of the best things that Microsoft does for students.  The 10th annual event is the world’s premier student technology competition. It takes the passion and capabilities and desire to make the world a better place that students have and channels it with technology to create real impact. In addition to the potential impact of the students’ projects, Imagine Cup helps students prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, gaining direct experience in technology innovation, entrepreneurialism and teamwork.

This year's competition was exciting, because we saw for the first time students tackle application development on Windows 8 and the Windows Metro Style app challenge, as well as Kinect. In fact, two-thirds of all the education-focused projects attempted to make education more interactive with Kinect for Xbox 360. Like every year, the quality of the students’ work continues to grow and improve, and the viability of the projects that students are creating to have a meaningful impact on the world is certainly at hand.

This year I was pleased to see so many creative ideas on how to better education, and especially proud an education project won one of the major competitions. The team Drexel Dragons from the United States won the Window Phone Game Design contest. Students from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania created an engaging game designed to teach math and problem solving in new ways to elementary school students. “MathDash” provides a fast-paced, rewarding gameplay experience that reinforces math skills taught to elementary school students. It encourages players to approach problems from a different perspective, giving them an intellectual advantage by teaching them to think outside the box.

I continued to be inspired by the students, their enthusiasm, their energy and their optimism for how technology can play a better role in the world. I encourage you to take a look at all the education projects below. More information is coming in the next month around next year’s Imagine Cup competition. Russia will host the 11th annual event in St. Petersburg in July 2013.

Congratulations to all the 2012 participants!

Education-focused projects:

Argentina – Team BoddyMusic

BoddyMusic is a virtual classroom application that specializes in music education for people with disabilities, enabling users to play various musical instruments with body movements via Kinect for Xbox 360.

Belgium – Team Make A Sign

Make a Sign is a sign language database for all languages, based on Kinect technology, enabling students of many different languages to learn to sign.

Brazil – Team Doers

The objective of “Do More” is to make players aware that through teamwork, every problem can be solved. This game encourages players to participate in changing the world by giving donations, volunteering their time or even by changing their mindsets.

Chile – Team LifeWare

IntegraKinect is a tool for people with cerebral palsy that enables them to interact with a computer through a Kinect sensor and microphones to capture sound and movement.

India – Team D Labs

D Labs allows tutors to understand the behavioral patterns of children with dyslexia by using games to assist them in alphabet identification and movement recognition.

Mexico – Team ReImagine

KIWI is a platform that helps to both diagnose and treat attention deficit disorder. It consists of educational software and exercises, along with software that helps developers, doctors and teachers create and personalize applications that will enhance the treatment for these students.

Peru – Team Wake Up

Project Wake Up allows children with Down syndrome to improve their attention, memory, communication, motor skills and perception by using Kinect and Natural User Interface. Additional components of Wake Up include gesture recognition, color tracking and artificial intelligence.

Philippines – Team Divided By Zero

KidCAMP gives teachers and families of autistic children affordable education tools designed to monitor student performance, improve communication and augment existing special education curriculum by using the Internet and a mobile application.

Romania – Team Complex

Seedbit is a Web application stored in the cloud that unites individuals, companies and NGOs in a fun, social way to get them involved in social causes they are passionate about.

Slovakia – Team OwNet

OwNet addresses the negative impact that poor Internet connectivity can have on schools, offering teachers and students a faster and more efficient way to use the Web for educational purposes, including collaboration tools.