Four teams of young students are today one step closer to representing New Zealand at the worldwide finals of the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2010 competition in Poland this July.
Microsoft New Zealand held the preliminary finals for the annual technology competition yesterday at its Auckland offices to determine the teams that will advance to the next stage of competition. A field of 20 teams each pitched projects developed using Microsoft technology to a six-judge panel in hopes of securing a spot in the national final.
The Microsoft Imagine Cup is the world’s largest technology competition, challenging students from around the globe to develop technologies to help solve the world’s toughest problems. Now in its eighth year, the Imagine Cup is a truly global competition with more than 300,000 students from 100 countries participating.
More than 100 local teams entered the initial competition phase in December 2009. Those teams were whittled to the top 20, which received mentoring assistance from Microsoft New Zealand employees and industry experts. After working feverishly over the summer break, the preliminary finalists presented their completed projects yesterday to a judging panel comprised of Microsoft employees, business experts and technology journalists.
The top four teams advancing to the national finals are:
Team One Beep – From the University of Auckland, Team One Beep developed a system for delivering data over conventional radio transmitters; the purpose of which is to enable educational material to be delivered to impoverished schools and communities in areas of the world where there are no phone lines let alone internet services.
Team Enpeda – Also from the University of Auckland, Team Enpeda devised a working prototype of a computer controlled driver assistance system. It uses a cell phone camera and is able to detect the road environment ahead and warn drivers if they stray off course and into danger.
Team eUtopia – From the University of Waikato, Team eUtopia came up with a live video distribution service that links conservation organisations to the public and allows for remote monitoring, private research and even surveillance of animals.
Team Vital Link – From the University of Auckland, Team Vital Link tackle the issue of poverty, in particular, fair trade for artisans in impoverished countries whose handicrafts are often undervalued. The team aims to provide a global marketplace by capitalising on the viral marketing capabilities of Facebook to help these people make enough money to improve their daily lives.
“Going by the high calibre of projects on display today, the future of New Zealand’s ICT industry appears to be in good hands,” said Brett O’Riley, CEO of the NZ ICT Group and one of the competition judges. “We now have four highly developed proposals that will provide for an exciting and competitive national final.”
Scott Wylie, Director of the Developer and Platform Group for Microsoft New Zealand and sponsor of the Imagine Cup said: “The quality of the proposals this year is been even better than years past. We asked students to solve the world’s toughest problems, and they’ve come up with exceptional ideas to do just that.”
The national finals will be held at the University of Auckland Business School on 30 April. Following an in-depth presentation before a second panel of judges, the winning team will be determined to represent New Zealand at the worldwide Imagine Cup final to be held July 3-8, in Warsaw, Poland.