A team of students from IT Sligo have won the first prize in the lead category of the Microsoft Imagine Cup World Finals. Click on the image above to see the YouTube video
The Microsoft Imagine Cup is the world’s premier student technology competition, honoring student innovations that address global problems such as improving road and fire safety, eradicating poverty and creating a more sustainable environment.
The ninth Microsoft Imagine Cup 2011 competition winners were announced last night at the Microsoft Imagine Cup World Festival and Awards Ceremony at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center in New York. The event was the culmination of a six-day celebration of technology, hard work and ingenuity. Narrowed from more than 350,000 global registrants, more than 400 students from 70 countries traveled to New York to compete at the Worldwide Finals. The festivities included remarks from philanthropist, activist and actress Eva Longoria, CEO of the Startup America Partnership Scott Case and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Team HERMES from IT Sligo took home top honors in the Software Design competition – the lead category in the competition. The team designed a device that plugs into a car and monitors dangerous driving behavior and road conditions, providing instant feedback to both the driver and the car owner. The team’s solution uses embedded technology, Windows Phone 7, Bing Maps and the Windows Azure cloud computing platform to change driving habits and reduce road deaths, which impact a significant number of young lives each year. With its victory, the team won $25,000 (U.S.).
Team HERMES is an interdisciplinary venture from IT Sligo bringing innovative ideas from the School of Engineering and the School of Business and Humanities. The team comprise Aíne Conaghan, Fáilte Ireland Scholarship postgraduate research student from Ballybofey, Donegal, James McNamara, a postgraduate research student in the Department of Information Systems from Ballyfarnon, Co Roscommon, Calum Cawley, a mechatronic student from Castlebaldwin, Co Sligo, and Matthew Padden from Ballina, Co Mayo, who is also a student in the Department of Information Systems. Their team mentor is Padraig Harte, a lecturer in the Department of Information Systems.
“We have a problem in Ireland; that problem is deaths on our roads,” said Team HERMES member James McNamara. “Thanks to Microsoft and the Imagine Cup, we’ve been able to come together to solve this problem and save lives.”
President of IT Sligo, Professor Terri Scott, said; “This is a remarkable achievement by Team HERMES. They are true ambassadors for IT Sligo and for Ireland. An innovative idea, hard work and self-belief have earned them a well-deserved place on the world stage and we look forward to welcoming them back to IT Sligo”.
Microsoft Imagine Cup teams will be eligible to apply for grants that include a combination of cash, software, training, consulting and other support. Microsoft will announce details about the grant program and application process later this summer.
“The innovators, entrepreneurs and humanitarians who compete in the Microsoft Imagine Cup have developed an inspiring spectrum of projects, raising the bar higher and higher each year,” said S. Somasegar, senior vice president, Developer Division, Microsoft. “We are in awe of the students’ solutions for addressing social and real-world challenges, and want to help them take their projects to the next level with the financial, technical and business support they need to change the world.”
Student projects are frequently inspired by United Nations Millennium Development Goals, and participants seek to solve the world’s toughest problems through technology. As such, this year teams focused heavily on environmental concerns, with 24 percent of worldwide finalist projects and 60 percent of all Game Design projects shedding light on environmental issues. Taking a cue from recent world events, natural disaster relief was another common theme: 23 percent of projects addressed varying aspects of disaster relief. Inspired by improvements in mobile technology and accessibility features such as speech recognition, more teams than ever (22 percent) developed projects that would enhance the lives of people with disabilities.
From a technology perspective, Windows Phone 7 was the most commonly used technology, with 48 percent of teams incorporating this mobile technology into their world-changing projects, from finding the nearest recycling center to helping those in a disaster broadcast their locations. Windows Azure was also popular, with 32 percent of projects relying on the cloud-based platform to aggregate crowd-sourced data and to integrate satellite data, among other uses.
Software Design Category Winners:
• First Place: Team Hermes (Ireland)
• Second Place: Team Note-Taker (United States)
• Third Place: OaSys (Jordan)
Eva Longoria was on hand to present the Microsoft Imagine Cup People’s Choice Award to Team Rapture, from Bangladesh. This is the only Microsoft Imagine Cup award that is determined by the public, and it includes a $10,000 (U.S.) prize. Team Rapture created Third Eye, a Windows Phone 7 device for the visually impaired that provides an assistive camera and a special user interface with vibration, speech feedback and voice command.
Below is a personal letter from An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD to congratulate Team Hermes on their success.
Top Image: Pictured celebrating the win are team members from left – right Matthew Padden, Calum Cawley, Aíne Conaghan and James McNamara.
Second Image: Pictured celebrating the win are team members from left – right Calum Cawley, James McNamara, Matthew Padden, Aíne Conaghan and team mentor Padraig Harte, lecturer at IT Sligo.