Imagine Cup Sri Lanka 2016 Highlights Young Talent
Imagine Cup 2016 hosted by Microsoft Sri Lanka concluded last week after a tough competition highlighting many fresh and innovative ideas. This year’s event saw the participation of 200 teams in the first round with a distinguished panel of judges narrowing it down to 22 for the final round.
Microsoft inaugurated Imagine Cup in 2003 as an international competition to give young people an opportunity to display their innovative IT skills in solving some of the problems faced by the world today. Its vision is also to help these youngsters eventually turn their innovative ideas into a successful business. With that in mind, Microsoft annually holds the Imagine Cup in over 100 countries to ignite innovative minds and to bring out talents, creating a platform for them to reveal their potential and to strive for greater objectives.
This year, Microsoft Sri Lanka held Imagine Cup for the 12th consecutive year under three categories – Innovation, World Citizenship and Gaming – where one team was picked from each category as the national winners to compete at the international level.
Team BitMasters Tops Innovation Category
Team BitMasters from the University of Moratuwa topped the Innovation Category for their project ‘Amplus’, an intelligent digital signage platform that makes advertising accessible for both small and large-scale businesses. The team has already installed Amplus devices in various locations and tested their product, actively helping effective advertising.
“We competed at Imagine Cup last year with a different product and made it to the final round but could not win the award. However, we learnt a lot through the process. We presented this product at several other events and won a considerable number of awards. By taking part in Imagine Cup this year, our aim is to take this product to the international level,” said S. Wijenayake, a member of BitMasters.
Team BitMasters also won in the Gaming Category for ‘Ashes of History’, a cross platform game with gesture control. Here gamers find a map that can take them through time to the past where they meet with challenges to change history in order to make the future better.
Team Genisys from the Informatics Institute of Technology was crowned under the World Citizenship Category for their smart water bottle holder which reminds the user to drink water. By analysing the height, weight and body type of the user, the device also provides customised water goals. Considering the temperature level and the humidity level of the environment, the holder can, thus, decide his/her water requirements.
During each round of the competition, the panel of judges reviewed each project proposal and the teams were questioned and given feedback to improve their ideas.
Fayaz Hudah, programme head at ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) said, “Every year, we see a lot of innovative and cool products coming out – which is fabulous. Teams evidently face challenges – that is expected when trying to take their ideas to the market while being innovative. I think the future is bright,” he told TechAvisor.lk. “However, when looking at things globally, we must understand that we live in certain markets and within certain geographical limitations. I think Sri Lanka, being in this part of the world, is doing fabulously well. If we compare globally, there are many things that are coming to play at that stage. Nevertheless, I think these teams should do fairly well even at the international level. I cannot yet say how well they will perform at the finals – but I am hopeful,” he added, congratulating the winners.
More Recognition for Cool Innovations
Apart from the winners, many finalists showcased cool and innovative apps and products that deserved recognition. Amongst them, Team Reflex from Informatics Institute of Technology presented an interactive mirror that helps you plan your day.
“We need to work on getting some features right. Our work is still in progress,” Team Reflex said. Apparently, the research involving the product took a longer period which was a real challenge when meeting the deadlines of the competition. “However, we hope to pick up from where we left and make this product marketable,” they added, hopefully.
Team Bandi Studio from the University of Peradeniya presented an interesting game called Bandia, which addresses bullying and its challenges. Team Zeta from the University of Colombo School of Computing introduced a walking stick that helps visually impaired people cross the road and find bus stops. Team Dragonflies from the same institute presented ‘Leaf of Life’, an application that is developed to detect crop diseases and to find remedies – based on that, recommendations are given to farmers to overcome those challenges.
Team IngeniousX from Informatics Institute of Technology introduced ‘ProMug’, a mug that aims to overcome diabetes. The mug contains a compartment with sensors such as ultrasonic, temperature and customised sugar sensors to help its users identify the sugar content of a drink etc.
Several teams admitted that they came across challenges when developing certain technologies for their products, mainly due to the limitations they experienced in the Sri Lankan market. According to them, lack of access to certain software and hardware as well as high costs involved in developing certain technologies limited them from adding certain functionalities to their products.
While thanking Microsoft Sri Lanka for events of this nature to bring up new talents, a few students also suggested that the company should expand its horizons and facilitate the participation of students from rural parts of the country. Expressing his views to TechAdvisor.lk, a student from the University of Peradeniya said, IT related events and competitions including Imagine Cup are held centrally in Colombo which makes it difficult for students from the other parts of the country to attend.
Food for thought?