Every year, Microsoft crowns the winners of the Imagine Cup, a student technology competition that offers over $300,000 in prizes to the winners. For the second year running, Microsoft tacked on a new component: the Imagine Cup Grants program, a three-year grant program to help students turn their innovations into nonprofits or social enterprises that work on specific issues. The debatably unfortunate catch is that the teams had to use Microsoft technologies—including Windows 8, Windows Phone, and Bing Maps—for their entries. Nonetheless, this year’s winners were impressive.
This German team came up with a navigation system—nunav—that figures out the best route for every car in its network and then lets each driver know where they should go, all in an attempt to cut down on traffic congestion (and carbon emissions). The Windows Phone-based app calculates data about nearby streets (including speed limits and number of lanes) in order to figure out how many cars the streets can carry before congestion occurs. The app then sets aside spots for drivers on the roads, ensuring that they don’t ever bottleneck. The team will get $100,000 from Microsoft.
This group of Australians has invented a "mobile hybrid stethoscope" that uses a Windows Phone to diagnose childhood asthma and pneumonia in the early stages, with help from a system that analyzes breathing patterns. A $75,000 grant from Imagine Cup will help the team work on research and development to confirm that their stethoscope works as intended. One potential issue: getting this to work in developing countries where most people don’t have access to smartphones.
The Egyptians behind Team Vivid built a mobile app that allows health care providers to give electronic medical records to patients via the cloud. The app is geared towards the Egyptian market, but it could work anywhere. An honorable mention in the competition, the app received $50,000 from Microsoft.
This Ugandan team created a mobile app that uses an algorithm to detect heart rates, age, and position of a fetus. Information is uploaded to a secure cloud, where it can be referenced by health workers. The team took $50,000 from Microsoft for its project.
A group of Ukranian students created Enable Talk, a mobile device that recognizes sign language phonemes, or segments of language. The goal: to translate sign language into a form of verbal communication.