Amman, July, 2009 — Jordanians Mahmoud Darawsheh and Rasha Darawsheh took third place at the Imagine Cup 2009 Worldwide Finals in Cairo for the Interoperability Achievement Award, which is designed to recognize the software application that best leverages out-of-the-box Microsoft technologies and blends them with other technologies to connect people, data or diverse systems in a new way.
“It is a great honor to have achieved third place in the Interoperability category and to have reached this far by participating in the final of this competition. It was a great experience and we have met so many young people from all around the world who share the same passion and desire to use technology to better the lives of people everywhere,” stated Mahmoud.
Rasha added, “We didn’t walk out of here empty handed. It means a lot to us and our project to receive the Interoperability Achievement award, which proves that we were able to leverage Microsoft technologies and blend them with other technologies to create something new and innovative. We were competing against some really amazing ideas but it gives me great pride to have been able to represent Jordan in this competition and I am already looking forward to competing in next year’s final!”
Representing Jordan at the Worldwide Finals, Mahmoud, a high school student and Rasha, 4th year Pharmacy student at the Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) created the 'Automatic Speech Translator to Sign Language'.
Mr. Zeid Shubailat, Country Manager of Microsoft Jordan said, “We are all very proud of Rasha and Mahdmoud for such an incredible achievement. Not only did they make it to the finals of the world’s premier student technology competition but they were also recognized and honored for having the creativity and talent to successfully combine Microsoft technologies and other technologies to allow the deaf and blind to communicate with each other simply and effectively.”
Mahmoud and Rasha’s project uses Windows APIs to translate speech into sign language, making it easier for the deaf to communicate. This project also allows the deaf and blind to communicate with each other by translating what is typed on a special keyboard into spoken words. The speech translator will also allow airports to inform their hearing impaired travelers of departure and arrival times accurately and efficiently.
The spoken words are translated into sign language through a standard microphone using Windows Vista speech recognition API, which transforms the words into a defined string variable (text) and then passes it on to an interpreter that recognizes each letter in the word as it is in sign language. As for translating sign language to spoken words, the special keyboard includes both the sign language letter and its equivalent alphabetical letter available on each key. When pressing the keys, spoken words will appear on a screen translating exactly what is being typed.
Now in its eighth year, the Imagine Cup is a global student technology competition focused on finding solutions to real-world issues. This year, the students’ efforts were focused on using technology to help address the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. The competition encourages the world's most talented software designers, programmers, game developers, and digital media enthusiasts to tackle, head on, issues related to: hunger relief, poverty, education, disease control, healthcare, the environment and other crucial problems facing our world today.
Imagine Cup provides students from all over the world the opportunity to contribute their talents to solving some of the toughest problems, to learn new technology skills and test themselves against the brightest students, and the chance to win cash prizes as well as internships at Microsoft.
In addition to the main categories of competition, there are several Achievement Awards this year: the Interoperability Award, Unlimited Potential Design for Development Award, Unlimited Potential MultiPoint Education Award, Accessibility Award, Design Accessible Award, Parallel Computing Award, Tablet Accessibility Award, Live Services Award, Windows Mobile Award, and the H.E. Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak Special Award, sponsored by the first lady of Egypt through the Cyber Peace Initiative (CPI).
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For more information on Microsoft Imagine Cup please visit: www.imaginecup.com