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Victoria's got tech talent – students win Imagine Cup challenge

2 May, 2012 | Sydney, Australia

Melbourne, Australia – 02 May 2012: A team of Victorian university students have invented a digital stethoscope that could help millions in the developing world by assisting in the early diagnosis of childhood pneumonia. The four students, known as ‘Team StethoCloud’, triumphed against four other teams to win the Australian finals of the 2012 Microsoft Imagine Cup challenge. Team StethoCloud consisted of: Hon Weng Chong, Andrew Lin, Kim Ramchen and Masha Salehi.

Now in its 10th year, the Imagine Cup challenges students around the world to use technology and their imaginations to come up with innovative solutions to some of the world’s toughest problems. Team StethoCloud will now move on to represent Australia at the worldwide finals of the 2012 Imagine Cup – once dubbed by Bill Gates as the ‘Olympics of the software world’. The worldwide finals will be held in Sydney in July where national winners from more than 100 countries will gather to compete for the international title.

Pneumonia is the largest killer of children under the age of five, and more children fall victim to the disease than malaria, HIV and measles combined*. According to team lead, Hon Weng Chong, more than 98 per cent of pneumonia cases occur in the developing world where access to medical facilities and treatment can be more limited.

Inspired by their medical backgrounds and passion to make a difference, the digital stethoscope is attached to a smart phone which listens to and digitalizes a patient’s breathing sounds and patterns. Those patterns are then compared against a medical database to deliver an automated diagnosis and treatment plan via an app on the smart phone.

“Sadly, the experience for many parents is that by the time a child is seen by a doctor, it’s often too late – our solution aims to put a stop to this,” said Mr Hon Weng Chong, Team StethoCloud.

“In some countries, parents are known to hold off taking their kids for medical care because they often think a cough is just a cold and the nearest clinic can be a day’s walk away. But what if any mother could diagnose pneumonia? What if a healthcare or community worker on every corner could have the power in their hands to help save a life?” he said.

The team claims that their digital stethoscope is 4,000 per cent cheaper than other commercial solutions in the market today, and they believe it represents a disruptive innovation in the medical space.

A team from the University of Canberra was awarded runner-up status for a smart phone app called ‘Food4Thought’, which aims to tackle food wastage. In their presentation, the team claimed that on average 178 kilograms of food per person per year was thrown out at cost of over $1,000.

Food4Thought is a smart app which tracks the ‘use-by’ dates of food in a pantry and provides notifications when foods are about to expire. In order to reduce waste, it provides recipes suggestions for the expiring food. If the food cannot be used, it encourages donation to nearby charities and food banks. Team Food4Thought consists of Xharmagne Carandang and Paul Du.

Microsoft’s Managing Director for Australia, Pip Marlow, said the finalists were doing the extraordinary and had a mindset that any problem could be solved.

“The magic of the Imagine Cup is that we live in a world today where the power of ideas combined with technology enables us to take control of our destinies and be part of the solution.

“The students show us that leadership can come at any age. For these guys, the world’s toughest problems are not a problem.”

Michael Harte, Chief Information Officer of Commonwealth Bank and a judge at the Australian finals of the Imagine Cup said: “Young people have great passion and energy for improving the world, and regularly demonstrate the imagination to solve long standing problems with new thinking,”

Over 1.25 million students have participated in the Imagine Cup since it started in 2003. This year, hundreds of thousands more will join the movement, coming up with brilliant ideas and technology solutions that have the potential to change people’s lives.

For more information on the Imagine Cup visit: www.imaginecup.com

– Ends –

For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Alice Ridgway Jessica Smart
Howorth Howorth
alice@howorth.com.au jessica@howorth.com.au
(02) 8281 3833 / 0400 375 544 (02) 8281 3244 / 0400 359 859

NOTES TO EDITORS

2012 imagine Cup finalist included:

Team Confufish – University of NSW

Team Confufish consists of team members, Brad Lorge, Aimee Lowth and Ben Wright

Team Confufish project looks at using technology to solve the global issue of world hunger through their food distribution project. They have developed a prototype distribution and logistics system for efficient delivery of food and aid supplies to charities, developing countries and disaster zones and have caught the interest of organisations such as FoodBank Australia, Red Cross and Action Against Hunger.

Team Food4Thought – University of Canberra

Team members include Xharmagne Carandang and Paul Du

Food 4 Thought tackles food waste by attempting to change critical behaviours that normally result in food wastage – a major issue contributing to global poverty and hunger. Food4Thought is a smartphone solution that focuses on what we as individuals can do about it.

By integrating food planning with a simple, easy to navigate pantry tracking system – Food 4Thought not only saves you time in planning your meals, it also gives you invaluable alerts before your food expires and provides meaningful alternatives that help you eliminate the amount of food you dispose.

Team Grand Domain – Elko, Queensland University of Technology, the University of Southern Queensland and Toowoomba State High School

Team Grand Domain is comprised of team members of Nicholas Darveniza, James Talbot and Luke James.

Team Grand Domain identified that the problem with traditional educational software and services is that they are tied to a pre-programmed series of levels, tasks and/or lessons and are indifferent to the user. Their project, Elko is designed to create an adaptive learning environment that dynamically coordinates and tracks progress across learning modules to reinforce a child’s learning based on it understanding who a child is, and how they are performing. This allows teachers to cater more effectively to individual student needs and enhance the learning experience.

Team StethoCloud – University of Melbourne

Members of team StethoCloud include Hon Weng Chong, Andrew Lin, Kim Ramchen and Masha Salehi.

Pneumonia has been labelled as the “forgotten killer of children” due to the lack of attention and exposure in developing nations. This project aims to provide an innovative solution to detect pneumonia early. By connecting a stethoscope to a smart phone – a community health worker or unskilled administrator is able to transit diagnostic information into a cloud service that analyses a patients breathing sounds for patterns that represent the earliest stages of pneumonia.

Stethocloud reproduces the diagnostic capability of a trained medical doctor and is able to detect, alert, and advise those with little or no awareness of pneumatic or respiratory illness as to the seriousness of a child’s condition and force intervention much earlier, and in effect, save millions of lives a year.

Team Awesome – Kinect Academy, University of Canberra

Team Awesome consists of team members Vu Pham, Monish Parajuli, Stuart Anderson and Anh Pham.

Kinect Academy aims to fill the gap with an educational application for children aged four to ten years (a critical childhood development period) which is filled with activities. Through the ‘gamification’ of learning, it aims to offer students with an engaging an interactive learning method. The program allows teachers to set their own questions, in order to tailor learning for each child in their classroom.

The judges:

The winners were selected by a panel of six judges made up of industry experts and representatives from Microsoft, including Ann Steward, Australian Government Chief Information Officer, Michael Harte, Chief Information Officer, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Dawn Edmonds, Chief Financial Officer, NewLease, Nick Abbott, Head of Developer Ecosystems, Nokia Australasia, Maurice Pagnucco, Head, School of Computer Science, University of NSW and Ashwin Karuhatty, Director of Academic Programs Microsoft.

Quotes of support:

“Technology is not only making a difference to the way we work, the way we learn, the way we consume products and the way we obtain entertainment, it has also begun to make a difference to the way in which we socialise and interact with the world around us. It is clear that this will increasingly continue to be the case. Imagine Cup is an excellent way for students to learn about new technologies and apply them to making the world a different place and one in which peoples' lives are enhanced.” Said Maurice Pagnucco, Head, School of Computer Science, University of NSW.

“I am constantly amazed by the way younger generations look at new technology and its continuing innovations. They are able to use the technology in ways that have not been thought of before. And by seeing it with fresh eyes, they use it to solve problems that once seemed insurmountable.” Said Dawn Edmonds, Founding Director and Chief Operating Officer of NewLease.

About Microsoft:

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential. For more information about Microsoft Australia please visit www.microsoft.com.au.

*World Pneumonia Day – for more information and statistics, visit www.worldpnemoniaday.org

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