From environmental sustainability, protecting human rights, empowering the disabled and disadvantaged, driving up literacy rates and much more, technological innovation has the power to make our world a better place.
That’s where initiatives like Microsoft’s Imagine Cup come in – helping to encourage the brightest and best students to develop world-changing technology projects by unlocking their creativity.
Founded in 2003, it’s now the world’s biggest student technology competition, with tens of thousands of students participating from around the world each year.
This year, the global final will take place in Seattle on 25 July, with the first prize of $100,000, mentorship opportunities and Azure credits all to play for.
The Europeans are coming
Europe has long been a hotbed of computing talent. From “father of AI”, Alan Turing, to World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, Nikola Tesla, the Lumière brothers and more, leading figures from the region have contributed to some of history’s most thrilling technology innovations. Now it’s time for the next generation to step out of the shadows.
So, who’s competing from Europe? Let’s take a look at the 14 teams travelling to Seattle and the projects they’ll be hoping to wow the judges with.
Team TBC (Belarus)
This project uses a neural network to determine psychogeometric characteristics of a person from photographs, which allows more effective communication according to their individual characteristics, with a focus on business and sales settings. The use-case is to help companies hire the right students by sophisticated data-driven algorithms based on psychology, face/gestures-recognition and company culture assessment. The algorithms can also be used to help out the service industry to better communicate with customers based on psycho-type and emotion detection in real time.
Theatrall aims to make theaters accessible for everyone through simple software available on smartglasses, smartphones or tablets, which will display the production subtitles in the language chosen by the user. The goal is to make theatre experiences accessible for everyone, such as people with hearing impairments, non-native language speakers, or simply for those wishing for subtitles.
Soul Sailor (Germany)
Soul Sailor is a platform that provides psychological care for refugees and asylum seekers, including a chatbot to help individuals process their experiences while seeking refuge. Soul Sailor supports refugees dealing with mental illnesses such as PTSD or depression by providing psychological care and eliminating factors out of their surroundings which contribute to their issues. The platform is powered by an AI and data-driven digital companion called Mayu, who interacts with the user via speech and helps them express their experiences and worries. In addition, the system also allows fled relatives who have been separated to communicate with a novel event-based network solution.
NASC is a web app that allows you to search for news articles on the web, attempts to evaluate sentiments in those articles and then visualizes the results. The goal is to encourage people interested in politics and other important topics and events to go beyond the first search result and to look at multiple articles that express different views about the same topic. To achieve this, NASC offers three different result views. The Map view helps portray geographical differences in the attitude towards a given issue. The Timeline view visualizes the development of the sentiment towards an issue over time, and the List view provides a familiar user interface similar to regular search engines and shows more details at first glance than the other, more specialized views.
Pavo Vision makes digital content accessible to visually impaired users, by utilizing advanced AI, Cloud Computing and the power of the community. Visual content in websites, documents, and other digital assets gets analyzed and equipped with a description of the visual for visually impaired users by the Pavo Vision System. Mistakes in the analysis can be reported by the Pavo community to train the system, making the models smarter over time. The Pavo Vision system is currently available as a browser plugin, with future support for Microsoft Teams planned.
StudySmarter is an intelligent learning platform, designed to help students achieve their educational goals and graduate from university. The platform digitizes the entire learning process, making it more efficient, structured and engaging. Machine learning algorithms accompany the student through the entire learning experience by automating or creating learning materials such as summaries, mind maps or flashcards with just a few clicks. In addition, the student is automatically connected with fellow students.StudySmarter not only saves time learning, but also boosts motivation.
iCry2Talk proposes a low-cost and non-invasive intelligent interface between infants and parents. Babies’ cries are translated in real-time, being associated with specific physiological and psychological states. Results are depicted in text, image and voice messages. iCry2Talk believes that the efficient combination and analysis of different sources of information through advanced signal processing techniques and deep learning algorithms can provide meaningful and reliable feedback to parents.
Innobie is a smartphone app to help students understand the curriculum they are reading in textbooks. The app projects a virtual augmented 3D image over 2D illustrations in books, and can help elementary students learn biology, chemistry, geography, history, and more. By allowing users to explore virtual objects from all angles, they can gain a deeper understanding for more complex subjects than a mere 2D image would be able to provide.
DeafKIT is an automatic solution for sign-language translation based on neural networks. Translations are provided with video capturing to make communication easier and more effective, with up to 100% accuracy. The solution aims to be used on trading centres, social networks and more.
Wavy is an underwater locator for scuba divers which allows divers to track each other via a small device, which can prove to be vital during emergency situations. In addition to its safety benefits, the Diving Logbook feature tracks the route, depth and temperature of each dive. Diving bases can also measure the most popular routes to help recommend them to customers.
XVision is a system designed to automatically detect anomalies and diseases encountered anywhere in the human body with radiologist-level accuracy, just by analyzing common medical X-ray images with the help of the latest Azure AI technologies such as Machine Learning. The system will provide a crucial solution for people in areas of the world that lack access to radiology diagnostics while also acting as an assistant tool for the medical experts examining radiographs.
Coffee Break (Russia)
Coffee Break utilises spectrometry in an innovative way by labeling tradeable goods. this amazing tool in the business for labeling of tradable goods. The solution can be used in a variety of ways, such as counterfeit detection, by comparing goods to the known qualities of their genuine counterparts. The tool can also be used to track expensive items such as wine.
InterviewBot is a web-based application tailored to aid students with video or physical interviews when applying for jobs by providing real-time feedback on interview-style questions. Companies can also use this tool to assess their candidates’ performance, while a written transcript allowing employers to dissect interviews in detail. It uses facial analysis and speech recognition to offer real-time feedback on facial expressions during practice interviews, informing users whether their style is positive, neutral, or negative.
Black Light (UK)
Black Light’s project, Firepoint, is a First-Person mixed reality simulator, built around helping firefighters explain and display what their daily work environment is like without putting anyone at risk. The simulator allows users to see through the eyes of a firefighter as they make their way through a multi-story training ground with a variety of different encounters to tackle. The goal is to use this tool to help firefighters in community outreach, recruitment, and training.