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ImagineCup US Finals in Redmond - What's happening?

04.22.2012
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This weekend Microsoft hosted ImagineCup US Finals in Redmond, WA. For those of you who don't know, ImagineCup is a Microsoft-sponsored event that encourages students to think outside the box and come up with solutions to the world's toughest problems. Back to this weekend - I flew into Redmond, WA to cover the stories of multiple great teams that developed both software and hardware projects that benefit various social groups.

I am primarily working with people who participate in the Software Design competition. There are three tracks were students competed this year - Game Design for Xbox, for Windows Phone and non-game projects. For each category there were plenty of projects that have great potential and impact, however there are a few that I find interesting from the working architecture standpoint.

KinectMath, a project from University of Washington from Bothell uses the Kinect sensor to teach people math. They emphasize the fact that math is a class that frustrating for many students and instead of encouraging them to pick another class or to try and reduce the complexity of the subjects taught, their projects makes math more fun and gives a more hands-on feel for solving various problem types that fall into the categories of equations and graphing.

They used DynamicDataDisplay - a graphing library from Microsoft Research to build the UI core. The idea of their project is extremely simple, yet effective. The Kinect sensor is detecting the student proximty and is graphing data depending on the movement towards or away from the sensor. They have many plans on extending the project beyond this, but that's another topic. They successfully advanced to Round 2 and will be competing tomorrow for the first place.

The Miracle Workers - a team made of Chase Lundstrom, Tauseef Hemayet and Parbati Sanjel, all students at Winona State University, presented a project that tries to combat the SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). CloudMonitor - a cloud-based system that is based on a software and hardware layer. The hardware part is all about a reduced manufacturing price and efficiency - it is a Netduino microcontroller coupled with a heartbeat sensor that also acts as a web server that pushes data about the infant it is tracking out to the central remote location, where it can be picked up by a Windows Phone device and alert the parents if anything wrong is happening.

What's interesting about the entire structure of the project is the flexibility of the hardware. The Netduino microcontroller does not create strict limits for the developer, therefore the team decided to take advantage of that - they worked on finding their own failsafe mechanism that can be plugged into existing unit, as well as extend it to work on various network types and not only Ethernet. All data that is being processed between the sensors and the Windows Phone device is also available in the browser - it is really easy to generate a quick report that outlines the progression of the health monitoring.

They also advanced to Round 2 of the finals and will be competing tomorrow for the first place.

Team EOS from Tufts University presented a project that addresses the drug adherence problem. The guys also worked on a cloud-based system that connects patients to their doctors through a SMS system by taking advantage of such services like Twilio. It is used to notify medical specialists when patients go off-schedule from their outlined medical treatment plan. The system components are split across three layers - the client (patient) with a Windows Phone, the central storage and processing module (web) and the secondary client (medical worker) with another Windows Phone device.

Stay tuned for updates tomorrow, as winners of the US finals are announced!