WARSAW, Poland — July 6, 2010 — More than 400 excited students from 78 countries landed in Poland’s capital city of Warsaw, one of the fastest-growing cities in Europe, over the weekend to compete for the coveted title of “Embedded Technology Champion of the World” at the Imagine Cup. The event kicked off with an opening ceremony held at the Palace of Culture and Science, a fitting venue as contestants, representing the top students in the country, set out to demonstrate how they use embedded technology, coupled with creative free thinking, to help solve the world’s toughest problems.
Sunday marked the first day of competition and first round of judging. Tension was mixed with excitement as the final 15 teams in the Embedded Development competition realized that by the end of the day, their yearlong journey might come to an end. While students prepared, judges came together to talk about the impact the Imagine Cup has not just on the lives of these students, but for all involved in making the competition a reality year after year.
The SuperLove Factory team from Thailand presented their Imagine Cup project, Braille Eye.
For Scott Davis, group marketing manager for Windows Embedded, the challenge is getting people to appreciate the importance of the embedded competition. “Every person at the competition probably owns at least three embedded devices without realizing it — a music player like a Zune, DVR or camera,” he said. “There is nothing like the Imagine Cup for translating the potential of embedded software into real products and possibilities. The students bring raw energy and potential to each stage of the competition, and each nascent project speaks volumes for the calibre of the students who are willing to put themselves and their work in front of people to be judged.”
General manager of Microsoft Education Jon Perera finds the story behind the projects fascinating. He says that for him, it’s about understanding the students’ inspiration that delivers real insight into why they want their project to make a difference or solve a particular problem.
For example, inspired by grandparents who had experienced bad falls and were unable to get help, Team GERAS (Geriatric Emergency Recognition and Assistance System) from France developed a system to provide safety and security to the elderly. And as a result of the challenges the SuperLove Factory team from Thailand faced when working as volunteers teaching blind children, they created Braille Eye, a virtual eye designed to let the blind see the world in a similar way as sighted people do.
It’s clear to see that the Imagine Cup is personal and can change lives. For many, it is about the access to the technology they love and the opportunity to start a career in the ICT field. For others, it’s helping families start over in a better situation or improving how they lead their lives.
Round Two … and Then There Were Six
Team GERAS from France survive the first two rounds of judging, making it into the finals.
Concluding Monday afternoon was round two of judging for the 10 teams remaining. Each faced a new challenge addressing difficult questions from the judges as every aspect of their work was scrutinized. It was vital to demonstrate understanding of Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 and show just how their project really addresses one of the toughest problems in the world.
Meet the final six teams competing for the $25,000 grand prize below, and check back tomorrow for an insider’s look on each of the remaining finalists and their respective projects.
Team France: GERAS
The goal of the GERAS system is to provide a way to detect the severity of an elderly person’s fall. Composed of three main subsystems, a motion detector, an intelligent carpet and an EBOX, the program analyzes data to recognize an emergency situation and calls 911.
Team Romania: EcoSynthesis
This energy control, monitoring, analysis and predictability ECoMAP addresses the problem of energy waste by promoting and increasing power usage efficiency, completing an extensive survey of power usage patterns over a short period. It then presents clear expressive power consumption results of the monitored location.
Team Taiwan: SmarterME
This home or office smart meter is based on a low-cost embedded system that is easy to install. It provides detailed power consumption information including what appliances consume power and when and where power is most greatly consumer. The solution also advises users about the power consumption of their appliances and recommends better configurations to save power.
Team United Kingdom: eyeSight
This is an augmented reality system for blind and partially sighted people, incorporating visual, tactile and audio interfaces. Using the latest Windows Embedded, mobile and cloud technologies, it aims to improve overall quality of life.
Team Korea: R U Gentle
The R U Gentle project is designed to reduce carbon dioxide emitted from cars by changing drivers’ wasteful driving habits.
Team Russia: MCPU
Project Robonanny introduces a new technology for the employment and education of students. It connects modern achievements in information technology, robot technologies and the best teaching strategies for training and educating students.
Follow the progress of the Windows Embedded teams on the Windows Embedded News Center, and also keep an eye on the official @msftweb Twitter profile for daily updates from the event.