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Microsoft announces AI for Good Schools Challenge winners, launches global Challenge for 2021

AI solutions for disabled and vision-impaired users scoop the pool

Microsoft is delighted to announce the winners of the AI for Good Schools Challenge which provides an opportunity for Australia’s high school students to learn about AI, engage with the ethics behind AI, and then dream up their own AI concept to make a difference in the world.

The initiative has been enormously successful in Australia and Microsoft has just launched the global Imagine Cup Junior AI for Good Challenge for 2021.

The 2020 winners – drawn from a field of 631 submissions from 108 schools across Australia – are Sensory 4 Sight and Aldaptyle.

In Division 1, for students in Years 7-9, the AIdaptyle submission from Ravenswood School for Girls in Sydney offers a way for people with physical disabilities or special needs to order fashionable clothing that fits. Students envisaged linking a user’s body-scan to online fashion sites, allowing people to order custom made clothing to meet their specific needs.

The idea is that the visual scan of a person’s body is made, fashion preferences are determined through speech, and then tailored clothes are designed, made and delivered to the user’s home.

Sensory 4 Sight led Division 2, for students in Years 10-12. The submission by students from Seven Hills High School uses an array of technologies including VR headsets and sensor gloves, leveraging computer vision and haptics, in order to allow people with vision impairments to play computer games online with other players Sensory 4 Sight envisages a player wearing a headset and gloves that vibrate to indicate what is happening in the game. One of the inventors of this concept is visually impaired herself. We are currently working on mentorship opportunities with accessibility experts at Microsoft for this team.

Jane Mackarell, K-12 Director, Microsoft Education said; ”The calibre of entries in this year’s Challenge was exceptional. High school students from around Australia have recognised the power of AI and developed a series of hugely innovative projects that are designed to have genuine impact in terms of solving some of our greatest global challenges.

“Supported by their schools, teachers, parents and guardians, students have risen to the challenge, learning about the ethics of AI, and developing important skills and understanding that will be valuable to them through all of their school years and beyond. We are pleased to also launch the global Imagine Cup Junior AI for Good Challenge 2021 and encourage Australian schools to sign up and participate in 2021.”

Besides attracting 631 submissions, Microsoft also organised a series of Hackathons to support students and build their understanding of AI. In all 29 AI Hackathons took place in 2020, 18 of them held on Teams because of pandemic-related requirements, for a total of 650 participants. That offered students the chance to come together online, share their ideas, collaborate and learn more about AI.

Working with the training organisation Education Changemakers, Microsoft developed tools and plans aligned to the Australian curriculum standards to support teachers and the students in grades 7-12 participating in the Challenge.

The four curriculum aligned lesson plans explain how AI works, and how students can design creative, ethical AI-infused solutions that make a difference in the world.

Education Changemaker’s Director of Innovation Aaron Tait was highly impressed by the calibre of the submissions in 2020 stating; “This year we saw such a high level of innovation from the students, which is testament to their creativity and intelligence, as well as the resilience and adaptability of their teachers in what has been a very disruptive year.”

The State and National finals of the Challenge were conducted remotely using Microsoft Teams and submissions were judged for their use of AI as well as their potential for impact and presentation. Students were also asked to reflect on the ethics of their proposal, assessing features such as fairness, inclusiveness, reliability and safety, privacy and security, transparency and accountability.

Sensory 4 Sight and Aldaptyle were named winners, with finalists in the two divisions being:

Division 1

  • The Anallergic Watch (2nd place): Uses an AI infused smartwatch to identify allergy sources using computer vision and search, and then to monitor the watch-wearer’s temperature and heart rate for signs of anaphylactic shock, alerting doctors or applying a nano anaphylactic patch if required.
  • Nitro Bot (3rd place): Using AI to analyse images of river systems collected by drone in an attempt to identify high concentrations of nitrogen, and farms with excessive fertilizer run-off, allowing targeted interventions to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Hugs for Epilepsy: An AI-enabled teddy bear that would monitor and record epileptic seizures in babies and children – providing valuable records and alerting parents or guardians when needed.
  • Shark Detector Bubbles: An underwater drone designed to replace shark nets that would analyse if a shark is dangerous and it so, emit a deterrent to protect people from attack.

Division 2

  • NAVI (2nd place): A system designed to use AI to monitor emergency situations when paramedics are at work to identify potential issues, allowing paramedics to take action early to keep themselves and patients safe.
  • DIVE (3rd place): Harnessing drones and AI to predict bushfires, alert authorities and residents to bushfire outbreaks, and using AI to model the safest escape routes.
  • DC – Doctor Chip: -A bio chip that would be used to perform daily body scans, with that data analysed by AI with reports to the individual and medical advisors to keep people healthy and well.
  • Keep Dreaming: An AI infused baby monitor that helps babies and toddlers get back to sleep by automatically triggering white noise or temperature adjustments when the child shows early signs of waking up through the night.

Further information at link to blog.

AI for Good Schools Challenge