Each year Microsoft hosts Imagine Cup, an international skill-based competition that challenges high school and university students to create innovative and original software applications. Students compete in three competitions, including Games, Innovation, and World Citizenship, and multiple challenges. For the past year, students have been forming groups of no more than four, creating proposals, and competing at the local and regional levels. The teams with the best projects were flown to the WorldWide Finals, hosted in Russia this year. Up for grabs were top prizes of $50,000 in each category.
Among steep competition, it took thinking far, far outside the box to win at this year’s event. Here are seven of the most surprising apps created by this year’s student teams, ranging from a camera app that can tell you if you’re high or sober to a hearing aid that uses a phone app to provide hearing more versatile than any alternative currently on the market.
1. Omni-Hearing Solution
When the Omni-Hearing Solution team embarked on their project, they learned just how widespread hearing loss is around the world. A quarter of a million babies are born with hearing problems every year, they found. Even 30% of those born with healthy ears will face some degree of hearing loss as they age. “We hate to see that friends and family are forced to either yell at them in order to get the message across or stop talking to them,” the team wrote. “Soon it was a decision of whether to not talk to out grandparents again, and we decided that we are not ready to face that yet. The existing hearing aids cannot solve our problem, so we thought to ourselves, we might as well be the solution we so long for.”
To form a better solution for people’s manifold hearing disabilities, a team of students from Taiwan created Omni-Hearing Solution. Omni-Hearing Solution is an app-centric hearing aid for the modern world that provides users full hearing ability. The Solution is comprised of three parts: a phone app to replace your traditional hearing aid, a cloud service that can identify your potential hearing problem, and sound processing technology that enhances the quality of all forms of vocal communication. The Solution is used through an earpiece similar in appearance to a Bluetooth headset that you hook over your ear. While on the phone, you can also use the Solution directly through your smartphone’s speaker. Using the phone app, you can adjust settings for better hearing and set different scenes optimized hearing in various situations.
The Omni-Hearing Solution team won second place in the World Citizenship competition, a $10,000 prize, and took home the Women’s Empowerment Award.
soundSYNK, the first place winner of the Innovation Competition, is a mobile phone app that allows multiple mobile devices to play the same song in perfect sync (hence the app’s name). The app creates impromptu social networks by connecting phones through bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or Wi-Fi direct connections. To harmonize sounds and play music in sync, the app works through known delays and pre-determined time intervals and adjusts for variations in transmission rates. The app will work seamlessly on all devices, regardless of platform, device, or environmental effects. The team members, hailing from the U.K., took home a $50,000 for their project.
Do you ever worry about the health problems associated with working at your computer all day? While working at your desk and staring into your computer screen for hours on end, SANO can monitor your body’s health indicators and alert you when it’s time to pause your work and do some exercise. The app’s 3D virtual trainer will appear on your screen and ask you to mimic his movements, helping make sure your health doesn’t decrease during your long hours at work. SANO’s exercise library is expandable, as you can program your own exercises into the app using SANO’s exercise builder, and share them with friends.
The SANO team, from Canada, designed the app as a solution to a problem they face every day: being stuck in front of their computers for hours on end. The app, however, also addresses a need of many trainers and physiotherapists; many of these experts would like to track their clients’ health remotely, but currently have no efficient way to do so. “They want to monitor them remotely and give them tasks!” team member Omar Zaarour said. The SANO team won the KFC Russia Award.
The team, from Uganda, realized how painful, costly, and inefficient the process of detecting and treating malaria can be. Before the competition, one team member contracted the disease and was subjected to a series of prickings.
While treatment may be available, the current process of detection does not allow for effective treatment. “With this solution, Matibabu, we are able to diagnose for malaria in its early stages which will help reduce malaria by more than 75% in 2015 as by World Health Organisation,” said team member Simon Fred Lubambo. The Matibabu won the Cup’s Women’s Empowerment Award.
6. For a Better World
7. Modern Drug Test
This team from Poland wants to drug test you using their Windows phones. Using their Modern Drug Test app, hold your phone to a person’s eye and, based on scientific research on how drugs affect the eyes, the app will tell you if he person if under the influence of drugs. Modern Drug Test is a quick, cheap, and portable field test for drug use, if a little invasive. Can you imagine your friends testing your sobriety each time you enter their house?
The Modern Drug Test team won second place in the Windows Phone Challenge.
Images via Microsoft Imagine Cup
What’s your favorite new technology created for the Innovation Cup?