Students around the world have been taking part in regional and national competitions to choose the teams that will participate in the worldwide finals of the Imagine Cup 2011. For the first time in the 9-year history of the competition the finals are taking place in the U.S and will be held in New York City between July 8 and 13.
Twenty-two teams competed in the finals of the U.S. Imagine Cup and before announcing the winners, Mark Hindsbo, Microsoft's vice president of Developer and Platform Evangelism, commented on the high standards set by the students taking part:
"The level of projects this year has truly been phenomenal. When we started Imagine Cup nine years ago, there were only a couple of projects that were the quality that every project is this year."
The winner of the Software Design category was Team Note-Taker from Arizona State University with a project that enables low-vision students to take notes in class with the assistance of a custom-designed, portable camera, a touch-screen Tablet PC and Microsoft OneNote.
Team Note-Taker: left to right Michael Astrauskas, David Hayden, Shashank Srinivas and Qian Yan
The Note-Taker project was inspired by one of the team's legally blind members, David Hayden, who found it difficult to keep up with note-taking in blackboard-intensive math courses. Hayden and his teammates developed Note-Taker with support from the university's Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing.
After finding out that his team had won, Hayden commented that it's awesome that his team's "portable assistive technology" was recognized because it can make taking notes for visually impaired students like him so much easier. Being able to take your own notes "is well known to benefit retention," he said.
The winner of the Game Design for Windows and Xbox competition was Team Bloom, from Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy, with a game focused on helping kids learn about alternative energy solutions. The winner of the Game Design for Mobile competition was Team Big Impact Bear, from the University of Houston, with a game to increase awareness of the importance of preventing and reversing deforestation.
It's not only the judges' decisions that determined the awards at the U.S. Finals. Online votes for the videos presentations were also counted for the People's Choice Awards.
BearPaw, a team from Brigham Young University, received the People's Choice Award for Software Design for a project which uses Azure cloud services to make portable ultrasound devices more effective, viable and affordable. Team Bloom were winners twice over by taking the People's Choice Award for Game Design.
The full list of winners and prizes and links to their projects is available at the Microsoft News Center.
There is also a video.
Imagine Cup 2011