Microsoft Crowns Imagine Cup 2004 Champions

SAO PAULO, Brazil, July 6, 2004 — Capping a year of intense competition that spanned the globe and fused technological expertise with artistic spirit, Microsoft Corp. today crowned the winners of the second annual Imagine Cup student technology competition. S. Somasegar, corporate vice president of the Developer Division at Microsoft, and Emilio Umeoka, president of Microsoft Brazil, presented the winners with their awards today at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference in conjunction with Microsoft’s TechoEd Brazil in Sao Paulo, Brazil, following a weekend of competition and judging in Foz do Iguau, Brazil, featuring 150 student finalists representing nearly 40 countries. The Imagine Cup represents one of many ways in which Microsoft is enabling the world’s community of students to realize their potential.



Members of team France from EPITA University celebrate winning the second annual Imagine Cup, July 6, 2004 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. L to R: Aymeric Gaurat Apelli, Guillaume Belmas, Francois Beaussier, and Vincent Vergonjeanne. Click image for high-res version.

“Each of these students represents the best and brightest of tomorrow’s technology leaders, and their innovative creations demonstrate their enormous potential to change and inspire the world,” Somasegar said. “It’s a true pleasure to congratulate not only today’s winners, but also the tens of thousands of Imagine Cup participants around the world on a job very well done.”

Also today, Microsoft announced the localization and worldwide availability of theSpoke.net, an online club built and shaped by the student community as a place to collaborate, discuss, connect and discover. Today, theSpoke.net is localized in six languages: Brazilian Portuguese, French, German, Japanese, Simplified Chinese and Spanish. Localized sites for Italian, Korean and Traditional Chinese, currently in beta testing, are expected to be released by September 2004. theSpoke.net also features a Premium Membership Program that is now available in Brazil and Latin America as well as in Canada, France, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Premium Membership Program is designed to provide students with easier access to software in their quest to better utilize technology and realize their full potential.

Imagine Cup 2004 Concludes in Awards Ceremony; Imagine Cup 2005 Takes Shape

More than 10,000 students from 90 countries started out on the road to Imagine Cup 2004 in the past 12 months, competing in a variety of regional, national and online competitions to earn positions in the worldwide finals. Thirteen teams from countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia took the top three places across four invitationals – software design, short film, rendering and algorithm – collecting prizes totaling $87,000 (U.S.).

“Winning the Imagine Cup was a great personal achievement that brought about a very thrilling year for me, including the start of my own business, based in part on the application I developed,” said Tu Nguyen, Imagine Cup 2003 world champion. “Without a doubt, this year’s winning teams have an exciting road ahead of them, because winning the Imagine Cup is a wonderful way to expose student innovations to the industry and the world.”

Following are the winners of Imagine Cup 2004:

Software Design Invitational

Students competing in the software design invitational imagined a world where smart technology makes everyday life easier, creating products and services that leverage the power of the Microsoft .NET Framework and Web services. The finalists’ applications truly represented the theme of Imagine Cup 2004, addressing solutions for education, healthcare and lifestyle needs, areas that are increasingly important to the commercial technology world. The top three teams for the Imagine Cup 2004 Software Design Invitational are these:

  • First-place winner: From France, Aymeric Gaurat Apelli, Franois Beaussier, Guillaume Belmas and Vincent Vergonjeanne of EPITA created SmartCenter.NET, a low-cost smart home automation platform, built on the Microsoft .NET Framework, that enables its user to automate functions such as managing energy consumption, watching home security cameras from a Pocket PC or remotely controlling house functions. Team France received the Imagine Cup 2004 Software Design World Champion title and a cash award of $25,000* to be shared equally among the team members.

  • Second Place: From Russia, Taras Kushko, Nikolay Surin, Stanislav Vonog and Konstantin Zhereb of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology developed ICE – Inspirational Classroom Environment, a solution designed to revolutionize in-classroom education by making it more active, collaborative and personalized through role-based games. ICE provides children in traditional elementary schools with a variety of virtual tools to improve the learning process. Team Russia received a cash award of $15,000 to be shared equally among the team members.

  • Third Place: From Greece, Dimitrios Bisias, Eleni Korkontzila, Styliani Taplidou and Nikolaos Trichakis of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki designed SmartEyes, an application to benefit the 180 million visually impaired people worldwide. SmartEyes provides users with guidance information – such as locations, directions, and nearby landmarks such as restaurants and pubs – with the mission of making those users more independent and confident in social interaction. Team Greece received a cash award of $10,000 to be shared equally among the team members.

Following the announcement of the top three teams, the fourth- and fifth-place finishers, Team South Africa and Team Belgium, joined their fellow competitors on stage with Somasegar to complete the award ceremony for the software design invitational.

“It feels wonderful to win the Imagine Cup, especially as last year we came so close,” said Franois Beaussier of Team France. “We came together again this year as the same team to create an automation project, and soon hope to set up our own company and work with French software companies to make automation better.”

Short Film Invitational

Working in teams of up to four, short film invitational competitors shared their artistic opinions on the culture of innovation, realized through digital video. The top three teams for the Imagine Cup 2004 Short Film Invitational are these:

  • First Place: From Romania, Adrian Baragan, Emilian Baragan and Marius Patrascanu of the Faculty of Computer Science of Romania developed an animated film, “Nostrum Capitulus,” that follows the human race from the dawn of civilization to the modern day and beyond – finally positing that humanity is the greatest of all achievements. Team Romania received the Imagine Cup 2004 Short Film World Champion title and a cash award of $8,000 to be shared equally among the team members.

  • Second Place: From the United States, Benjamin Eachus, Jessica Inocencio, Gregory Marx and Andrew McConnon of Princeton University produced a short film titled “After Prom” that examines the evolution of dance as a metaphor for social change. Opening with archival footage from etiquette movies of the 1950s, the film addresses how such ideals have transformed over the years, cutting to images of modern improvisational dance. Team USA received a cash award of $4,000 to be shared equally among the team members.

  • Third Place: Two teams tied for third place. From Canada, Toben Alexander, Kevin Durdle, Tim Gordon and Nick Haffie-Emslie of the University of Western Ontario produced a film called “From Everything” that questions the idea that innovation “just happens.” In the film, a man comes to realize that he must look to the world around him for inspiration in coming up with innovative ideas. From Germany, Thomas Bedenk, Lars Fischer, Jenny Meiner and Stefanie Schiel of the Georg-Simon-Ohm-Fachhochschule Nrnberg University of Applied Sciences created a music video titled “The Storm,” which tells a story about a man imprisoned by his split personalities. Both teams received a cash award of $2,000 to be shared equally among the team members.

Following the announcement of the top three teams, the fourth-place finisher, Team China, joined their fellow competitors on stage with Somasegar to complete the award ceremony for the short film invitational.

Rendering Invitational

Rendering invitational competitors imagined the art of technology, creating three-dimensional animations and graphic inventions to merge artistic beauty with technological innovation using Microsoft Visual Studio .NET and DirectX 9.0. The top three teams for the Imagine Cup 2004 Rendering Invitational are these:

  • First Place: From China, Liu Feixiong, Liu Hongchun, Ning Wei and Li Xiaoyi of the Beijing University of Technology developed an interactive demonstration called “The Legend of the Dragon” that depicts one of the oldest legends of ancient Chinese mythology using DirectX 9.0 technology. Designed to represent the rivalry of might and wealth that exists between dragon adversaries, the demonstration features two dragons and a bright bead flying over China’s Forbidden City, all brilliantly rendered to reveal startling detail of the dragon’s skeleton and skin as the user zooms in for a closer look. Team China received the Imagine Cup 2004 Rendering World Champion title and a cash reward of $8,000 to be shared equally among the team members.

  • Second Place: From Lithuania, Paulius Liekis and Aras Pranckevicius of the Kaunas University of Technology created a program titled “The Fly” that displays real-time three-dimensional graphics and plays music. The program features highly detailed animation of a fly in a manner designed to demonstrate the scale of its world. As the program progresses, the animation zooms to the body of the fly, revealing another world where the viewer sees the fly at the conclusion only at one-millionth the size. “The Fly” was developed using DirectX 9.0 and Visual C++. Team Lithuania received a cash reward of $4,000 to be shared equally among the team members.

  • Third Place: From Belgium, Wesley De Neve, Charles-Frederik Hollemeersch and Elisabeth Hollemeersch of Ghent University created “H2Ocean,” a demonstration that recreates the sea in a spectacular graphic representation. Scenes include the vivid sea life of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the murky depths of the Marianas Islands. All source code was written and compiled using Microsoft DirectX 9.0 and Visual Studio .NET 2003. Team Belgium received a cash reward of $2,000 to be shared equally among the team members.

Following the announcement of the top three teams, the fourth- and fifth-place finishers, Team Colombia and Team Vietnam, joined their fellow competitors on stage with Somasegar to complete the award ceremony for the rendering invitational.

The rendering competition was co-sponsored by NVIDIA Corp. (Nasdaq: NVDA), the worldwide leader in visual processing solutions, which donated GeForce 6800 GT graphics cards for use during the final rendering competition, as well as gifts to the Imagine Cup winners. In addition to providing hardware support, NVIDIA representatives also led a classroom-style session focused on three-dimensional rendering techniques and tips.

“The field of rendering is a perfect blend of artistic beauty and technological innovation. We are pleased to be a part of the Imagine Cup and the competition’s first rendering invitational, to recognize the extraordinary creations of each of these students,” said David Roman, vice president of corporate marketing at NVIDIA.

Algorithm Invitational

Students competing in the algorithm invitational demonstrated their complex thinking skills by tackling algorithmic puzzles, solving them with simplicity and creativity through quick thinking and coding skills using Microsoft’s program languages such as Visual Basic .NET, Visual J# .NET, Visual C# .NET or Visual C++ .NET. The top three teams for the Imagine Cup 2004 Algorithm Invitational are these:

  • First Place: From Bulgaria, Branimir Lambov of the University of Aarhus, Denmark, received the Imagine Cup 2004 Algorithm World Champion title and a cash reward of $5,000.

  • Second Place: From France, Vincent Lascaux of Ecole Centrale Paris received a cash reward of $2,500.

  • Third Place: From China, Xiaomin Chen of Rutgers University received a cash reward of $1,250.

Following the announcement of the top three winners, the fourth- and fifth-place finishers, Li Weixing and Ying Wang, joined their fellow competitors on stage with Somasegar to complete the award ceremony for the algorithm invitational.

“What each of these students has done this year is truly remarkable, and their entries speak volumes about their enthusiasm for technology and innovation, as well as for their highly creative minds,” said Ricardo Anido of the University of Campinas in Brazil, who participated as a judge for this year’s finals. “I have no doubt that we’ll be hearing about these winners in the very near future – whether they’re leading a successful company or on their way to becoming the next Steven Spielberg.”

Following the awards presentation, Somasegar announced details of Imagine Cup 2005, which will take place in Yokohama, Japan, in August 2005. In its third year, the Imagine Cup will call on students to imagine a world where technology dissolves the boundaries between us. Continuing the tradition of expanding into new territory, four new invitationals – IT, senior project, technology business plan and Web development – will join the software design, short film, rendering and algorithm invitationals in Imagine Cup 2005. Those interested in participating in Imagine Cup 2005 can visit http://www.imaginecup.com/ to register for more information and view contest details.

After advancing through online and regional competitions around the world, student teams will convene at the worldwide finals in Yokohama to present their entries to a panel of judges from academia and the greater technology industry. Microsoft expects approximately 50,000 students to compete in 2005.

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* All prize values are stated in U.S. dollars.

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