‘Imagine Cup 2011 – New York’ Posts

Imagine Cup 2011: What Hacking College is All About

Imagine Cup wrapped up with a lavish awards ceremony Wednesday at Lincoln Center. The 2011 Microsoft Imagine Cup has come to a close, and while there may have been some surprises at the final awards ceremony, the podium order isn’t really all that important. It may sound cliche, but every participant in the Imagine Cup ...

Czech Students Develop Graphically Stunning Game for Forest Fire Awareness

WickedTeam from the Czech Republic developed a commercial-grade RTS firefighting game to raise awareness about fire safety. I wish I could buy it today! Though it may not directly address an issue like Team Dragon’s asthma treatment game, WickedTeam’s entry into the XNA Game Development competition was certainly the most technically impressive game on display ...

Lifelens Turns Your Phone Into a Blood-Analyzing Microscope

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With LifeLens, you can use a smartphone to give a blood test.  Let that sink in for a minute.

Developed by students from four different American universities, LifeLens' primary goal is to eradicate Malaria in the developing world. One of the main challenges facing aid workers is that it by the time a blood sample has reached a distant doctor for a Malaria test, environmental factors have contaminated the blood, leading to a shocking 60% error rate in diagnoses. As a result, the medicine is wasted on people who don't need it, and isn't given to patients who do.

Read on to find out how LifeLens can bring instant Malaria diagnoses to the most remote areas of the world.

Team OneBuzz Uses Computers to Defeat Malaria

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OneBuzz - Peoples Choice Award - Microsoft Imagine Cup 2011 from Vinny Jeet Lohan on Vimeo.

Though we may not hear much about it in developed nations, Malaria remains one of the world's biggest dampers on life expectancy, with nearly half of the world's population only one mosquito bite away from infection. Despite these risks, aid workers and doctors in at-risk countries don't have a good way of distributing medicine and mosquito netting to those who need it.  

Enter OneBuzz, the 2011 contribution from the Imagine Cup's defending champions from New Zealand. OneBuzz is a software platform to distribute Malaria supplies and predict outbreaks, capabilities that would be invaluable to those working in the field. With OneBuzz, local doctors can send inventory updates to a local medicine distribution manager via SMS, the best widely-available tech you'll find in many developing nations. OneBuzz parses this information automatically, and uses it to help the manager decide where to send medicine. 

Read on to learn about how OneBuzz can actually predict where Malaria will strike next.

Note-Taker Levels the Playing Field for Low-Vision Students

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The Imagine Cup team with the year's most HackCollege-relevant project has to be Team Note-Taker from Arizona State. Their project, which has been in development for three years, gives low-vision students the ability to effectively take notes in class. It's amazing.

As it currently stands, there's no magic bullet for low-vision students to stand on an even playing field in a classroom setting. Many use small telescopes called monoculars to see the board, but the time it takes to pick it up, find the right spot on the board, memorize necessary information, and get it on paper puts these students at a disadvantage. Head mounted cameras are another option, but they alienate these students from their classmates, and hinder collaboration. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires legally blind students to be provided with a copy of class notes, but research has proven that writing down notes yourself helps recall dramatically.

These are all issues that the team's leader, David Hayden, has dealt with himself as a legally blind student, and the note-taker system has been designed from the ground up as his own perfect solution. The Note-Taker system is a camera with built in servos that allow for pan, tilt, and zoom, all controlled from a tablet PC. The camera's view is displayed on one half of the tablet, and multitouch gestures enable seamless control, allowing students to zoom and pan to any part of the whiteboard at the front of the room. The other half of the tablet screen is used for taking notes, either with a keyboard or stylus. I can see just fine, and I would use this. The fact that it can actually help people who need it is icing on the cake.

Read on to find out more about the Note-Taker.

Rice Students Combat Asthma with a Smartphone Game

an class="full-image-block ssNonEditable">Team Dragon presenting their work to the judges. Azmo the Dragon is designed to help children track and treat their asthma.

The first presentation I checked out at the Imagine Cup was from Team Dragon, a group of Rice University students hoping to combat childhood asthma using a mobile game. 

As they pointed out to the judges, the most important aspect of asthma treatment is daily measurement of lung capacity, measured either witha peak flow meter, or ideally with a more advanced device called a spirometer. Unfortunately, maintaining a daily log of a child's lung capacity proves tedious over time, and only about 50% of affected families maintain the regimen. Team Dragon's proposal is to make the process less like a chore, and turn it into a game that kids will actually want to play. Read on to find out how it works.

Insane Battery Life Makes Sony Vaio-S Series Great for Students

an class="full-image-inline ssNonEditable">The Vaio's extended battery sits flush with the bottom of the unit, rather than protruding from the back. Image courtesy of Sony.

This post is part of program called "Charged and Ready" by Sony Electronics and Microsoft, where a group of college bloggers have been given a Sony VAIO-S series laptop to test and review.

A couple of weeks ago, I received in the mail (after much turmoil which I won't get into now) a brand new Sony Vaio-S series demo unit with an impressive sheet battery add on. Having spent a few days putting it through its paces, I have to say that it would make an excellent laptop for a rising college student.

My 13 inch model has some dashing good looks on the outside, with fewunnecessary lines or patterns adorning the back of the lid, a huge pet peeve of mine. The screen boasts an excellent 1600x900 resolution, though it feels unnervingly flimsy when adjusting its position. The keyboard sports very comfortable chicklet keys that reward you with a satisfying pop with each stroke. It's very much like an Apple laptop keyboard with louder clicking, and that's a good thing. The trackpad is decent compared to most Windows laptops, but the mouse buttons are a little stiff for my liking. Resting between the buttons is a biometric scanner that you can use to add an extra layer of security when logging into the machine or your favorite websites.

But does the Vaio live up to its 15 hour battery life claims? Read on to find out.

HackCollege is Going to the Imagine Cup!

I’ll be shipping off to New York on Friday for the 2011 edition of the Imagine Cup, Microsoft’s student software competition. Over 350,000 student software engineers from 183 countries have been competing for nearly a year to earn an invitation to the worldwide final, and a few hundred finalists will be in the Big Apple ...