UK developers to compete in Microsoft’s Imagine Cup


Finalists to take on the world to try to win $200,000 in prizes

Four teams from the UK have won places at Microsoft’s Imagine Cup final, where they will battle it out with developers from across the world for prizes worth more than $200,000.

The students will join 50 other teams at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, US, next month to present their ideas for solving real world problems. Only the US has more teams than the UK attending the final.

The winning group will take home $100,000 in cash, a $120,000 Azure grant, a trip to next year’s Build developer conference and a private mentoring session with Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella.

“This year, we have more teams than ever representing some of the world’s most prestigious educational institutions, including the University of Oxford, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Tokyo,” said Anthony Salcito, vice president of worldwide education at Microsoft.

“What’s more, the mix of student projects is equally impressive. We’ll see a wearable device designed to enhance surgeons’ ability to perform complex surgeries using image processing, virtual reality (VR) applications and 3D models; a project focused on creating a virtual coach powered by artificial intelligence; and an Internet of Things (IoT) solution designed to help monitor infants’ vital signs, just to name a few.”

Representing the UK at the annual competition, which is aimed at developing the next generation of computer science experts, are SEAT, Donaco, KSF.LLC and Pocket Sized Hands.

SEAT has created a system that improves the learning and teaching experience in programming courses. Comprised of an online dashboard and a Visual Studio Code extension, it will allow instructors to get statistics about their students’ performance on assignments, and provide automatic feedback to pupils about their code.

Donaco is a news website extension that makes it easier for people to donate to charity. The students have used artificial intelligence to place buttons next to relevant news articles that allow readers to instantly give money to that cause. They hope it will lead to more online donations to charity as well as give news outlets new ways to engage with readers.

“The idea first came about when I was reading about the refugee crisis,” said Donaco team member Michael Moses. “I was frustrated as I didn’t know what I could do, and that wasn’t the first time.”

“Opportunities like the Imagine Cup are really important. There are loads of students with interesting ideas, but nobody really has a path to push them forwards or understands how. We understand the technology aspect, but getting advice on things like pitching and scaling is great,” he added.

Mwanwhile KSF.LLC is an agri-tech start up that brings remote and interactive farming to people in cities, allowing them to join, learn and enjoy agriculture from anywhere, at any time via smart devices.

Finally, Pocket Sized Hands has created an online VR, multiplayer shooting game, focused on stealth combat.

“The player’s real life movements translate into in-game movements, correlating with player invisibility,” the group said. “This invisibility mechanic takes full advantage of the latest generation of VR technology as it was only made possible with the use of hand-tracked motion controllers.”


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