Arizona State University Students Win Top U.S. Spot at Imagine Cup, the “World Championships of Technology,” With Assistive Note-Taking Solution

REDMOND, Wash. — April 11, 2011 — Students from Arizona State University took the top prize today in the U.S. finals of the Imagine Cup, the world’s premier student technology competition, with their project that enables low-vision students to take notes in class with the assistance of a custom-designed, portable camera, a touch-screen Tablet PC, and Microsoft OneNote. Michael Astrauskas, David Hayden, Shashank Srinivas and Qian Yan from Team Note-Taker will represent the U.S. at the Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide Finals in New York City this summer, competing against student teams from more than 70 countries and regions around the world.

Students who created video games to drive awareness of world issues were also celebrated at the U.S. Finals. The winner of the Game Design for Windows and Xbox competition was Team Bloom, from Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy, with a game focused on helping kids learn about alternative energy solutions. The winner of the Game Design for Mobile competition was Team Big Impact Bear, from the University of Houston, with a game to increase awareness of the importance of preventing and reversing deforestation.

“It is inspiring to meet so many students who are on the forefront of new discoveries,” said Mark Hindsbo, vice president of Developer and Platform Evangelism, Microsoft. “Whether they go on to develop a breakthrough in healthcare, start a new company or become better prepared to enter the workforce, students who participate in the Imagine Cup are leading us into a brighter future.”

The Imagine Cup aims to get more kids interested in science in technology careers, where projections show strong job growth and few students studying to fill those roles.

The Imagine Cup is one way that Microsoft is helping the students of today prepare for the jobs of tomorrow by generating excitement for science, technology, engineering and math. Through its process of working in a team environment, developing a complex project within a deadline and presenting a case to a panel of judges, the competition inspires students with a diverse array of backgrounds to gain critical skills for the future in collaboration, communications, critical thinking, citizenship and creative problem-solving. This year, more than 74,000 students in the U.S. rose to the challenge to learn new skills and to make a difference in the world through the Imagine Cup.

“Technology empowers the individual to make the world accessible according to their own needs,” said David Hayden, Team Note-Taker. “Our work demonstrates this by equipping low-vision students with a portable assistive technology that enables them to take their own notes — a process that is well known to benefit retention.”

The team’s project, Note-Taker, helps low-vision and legally blind students take notes in class as quickly and effectively as their fully sighted peers. A tightly integrated camera and touch-screen Tablet PC allow the user to simultaneously view live video and take typed or hand-written notes on a split-screen interface.

The Note-Taker project was inspired by one of the team’s legally blind members, David Hayden, who was unable to keep up with note-taking in blackboard-intensive math courses. Hayden and his teammates developed Note-Taker with support from the university’s Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing.

The complete list of winners and runners-up of the Imagine Cup 2011 U.S. Finals follows:



  • First Place: Team Note-Taker, Arizona State University

Students: David Hayden, Michael Astrauskas, Qian Yan, Shashank Srinivas

Project: A portable, assistive technology to help vision-impaired students take notes in class

Prize: $8,000 (U.S.), A trip to New York to compete in the Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide Finals and a $25,000 (U.S.) donation to team members’ departments (or schools)

  • Second Place: Team LifeLens

Students: Cy Khormaee, Jason Wakizaka, Tristan Gibeau, Wilson To

Project: An innovative point-of-care smartphone application to address child mortality rates caused by the lack of detection and availability of treatment for malaria

Prize: $4,000 (U.S.)

  • Third Place: Team Uca Ursus, University of Central Arkansas

Students: Brendan Lee, Muhyeddin Ercan

Project: An automated system that allows people to self-monitor their diagnosed skin cancer using their cellphones

Prize: $3,000 (U.S.)

  • Fourth Place: Team TTHV, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Central Connecticut State University

Students: Alexander Ryu, Annemarie Ryu, Brandon, Liu, David Amenta

Project: A healthcare solution designed to improve vaccination rates and ensure women receive proper and antenatal care in underdeveloped communities

Prize: $1,000 (U.S.)


  • First Place: Team Bloom, Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy

Students: Andrew Zurek, David Grund, Nathan Heyl, Nathan Moore

Project: “Spero” — a game focused on alternative energy solutions and educating people on how to live healthier lives

Prize: $6,000 (U.S.)

  • Second Place: Team Plump Pixel, California State University, Chico

Students: Kenny Anderson, Kurt Feudale

Project: “Green World” — an educational game where players take on the role of city planners whose responsibility is to keep their environment clean

Prize: $3,000 (U.S.)

  • Third Place: Team Righteous Noodle, University of Houston

Students: Jack Chaiyakhom, Kyuho Shim, Son Tran-Nguyen, Thien Pham

Project: “Eva Frontier” — a real-team strategy game that challenges players to end poverty through the use of advanced technologies

Prize: $2,000 (U.S.)

  • Fourth Place: Team XozGaming, Lick-Wilmerding High School, Oakland, Calif.

Students: Julius Lee, Xander Masotto

Project: “Strain” — a real-time strategy game where players defend the world against a global pandemic

Prize: $1,000 (U.S.)


  • First Place: Team Big Impact Bear, University of Houston

Students: Brett Langsjoen, Daniel Salazar, Francisco Jimenez

Project: “Forest Gun” — a game that aims to prevent and reverse deforestation in the world

Prize: $6,000 (U.S.) and Windows Phone 7 devices for each member of the team

  • Second Place: Team AAMP, University of Houston

Students: Antonio Farias, Mark Rojas, Patipol Paripoonnanonda

Project: “Operation Clean Sweep” — a game intended to raise the player’s awareness of water pollution

Prize: $3,000 (U.S.)

  • Third Place: Team Mintrus, University of Louisville, Columbia College in Chicago

Students: Kazuna Nakama, Matthew Dahl, Quinn Johns, Richard Paris

Project: “Pandemic” — a tower defense game that acts as a conduit in the education and prevention of AIDS

Prize: $2,000 (U.S.)

  • Fourth Place: Team EDO, Arizona State University

Students: Ryan Scott, Travis Sein

Project: “Word Mine” — a fun word game that focuses on a variety of different languages

Prize: $1,000 (U.S.)


  • First Place Software Design: Team BearPaw, Brigham Young University

Students: Rob Johnson, Carter Green, Craig Treasure, Paul Jones

Project: A mobile and cloud solution for ultrasound images that is cost-effective, widely available and easy to implement

Prize: Each member of the winning team will receive an Xbox 360 250 GB Console with Kinect. Estimated retail value $299 (U.S) each.

  • First Place Game Design: Team Bloom, Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy

Students: Andrew Zurek, David Grund, Nathan Heyl, Nathan Moore

Project: “Spero” — a game focused on alternative energy solutions and educating people on how to live healthier lives

Prize: Each member of the winning team will receive an Xbox 360 250 GB Console with Kinect. Estimated retail value $299 (U.S) each.

Now in its ninth year, the Imagine Cup has grown to become a global competition, with more than 325,000 students representing 100 countries and regions entering the competition last year. The theme for the 2011 competitions is “Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems.” The Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide Finals will be held July 8 through 13 in New York — the first time the United States will host the final stage of the competition. More information about the Imagine Cup is available at

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