The second day of proceedings saw actual competition begin. The day went like this - 55 teams are put in an exhibition hall, where they each get a booth to set up their entries and show them off to attendees and the media. They are then chosen one by one to present to one of four panels of judges in a private room (and will repeat the same tomorrow). This makes it very interesting to see some of the dynamics in the room. Whilst a few teams were obviously being very guarded about their entries, most students and their mentors were really interested in what other teams were doing and in showing off their own entries. The second day of proceedings saw actual competition begin. The day went like this - 55 teams are put in an exhibition hall, where they each get a booth to set up their entries and show them off to attendees and the media. They are then chosen one by one to present to one of four panels of judges in a private room (and will repeat the same tomorrow). This makes it very interesting to see some of the dynamics in the room. Whilst a few teams were obviously being very guarded about their entries, most students and their mentors were really interested in what other teams were doing and in showing off their own entries.

1. Got Tech? Techno Mart has 2000 stalls, including 3 levels dedicated almost exclusively to cameras and mp3 players. If you look really closely at the bottom of the screen, you can see two go-go dancers dancing out the front and trying to get customers to come in. Wow.

One thing I didn't realise about the Imagine Cup world finals is that there is a hidden, unofficial category called 'Pimp My Booth'. Whilst there is the odd hand drawn poster (obviously caught out by the same lack of prior knowledge about booth battles as I was), on the whole people were going to alot of trouble to trick their booths out. But I have to say, the Aussie team did make the largest impression with their blind kangaroo mascot! He was by far the most popular guy there! I wonder how many blog posts will he pop up in?

 

2. & 3. The Aussie Booth at various times during the day

Talking to a few teams about their entries, there were a few comon themes. Primarily, entries either a) made education more accessible through mobile devices / web servers / automation or b) aimed to help blind people or c) just downright looked cool. There were alot of very interesting entries, and honestly, I couldn't pick a winner from the ones I saw. Great quality. Here's a quick sample:

   

4. Bright background plus dark foreground equals bad photo. It's always amazing to see entries that already look set to go to market. Austria developed some apps for SmartBoard type devices that had everyone stopping at their booth to ask questions. The most interesting thing about it was it's highly unique user interface - you get an artist's 'palate' which you hold in your hand and is your key to a large variety of different commands and functions. You tap the stylus on diferent parts of the palate to activate different functions. Looking part Surface, part education tool, I think this thing has much broader applications than just education. Using more than one stylus, you can collaboratively work on the same workspace, and it reminds me a little bit of the WaCom graphics tablets that are running Expression, so I think designers and engineers are going to be all over this thing.

5. Romania's entry - "Knowledge Sense" - claims to be a modern version of the encyclopedia. Using natural language queries and an intuitive, interactive interface, users can reportedly ask the app just about any question you can think of. I wanted to ask it how to get my towels extra soft when I wash them, but I didn't get a chance to try it out.

6. I'm a very visual person plus I like gadgets, so alot of the entries that wowed me the most were the ones that integrated hardware and software. The Pakistan team invented a system for multi-point video recording of lectures. Their system automatically moves the camera to track a lecturer as they move around the room. Once the session is finished, the system automatically does a quick edit of the lecture, then uploads it to a web server, and sends alerts out to users that new content has been added. Another cool feature is that they have used directional microphones that can detect which general side of the room a question is coming from if a student asks questions a question during the lecture since, as the team points out, the learning experience is not all about the lecturer.

7. I also had a quick look at the Embedded Design category, but the day's proceedings had finished by the time I got there. But I did snap the odd photo (and I do mean odd - like extreme net surfing requiring a bike helmet ;) ) of a few entries there and in the Interface Design category.... I'll get some photos up in my next post of some of the better entries.

The Australian team presented last to a panel of (I think) very tired judges. I wasn't allowed to take photos during the presentation as per the contest rules, but the team did very well. As you might recall, they have developed a tool for helping blind people program. So for me, the coolest part of the presentation was when they cover the screen and do some cding on the fly. Phil, who was driving the demo, even made a mistake, with a button overlaping a field in a simple logon form, but was able to rectify it without looking at the screen, which is a tribute to the usability of this app.

Finally, dinner was crazy - 800 odd software designers in a room getting their grub on! In a big hall in the SHeraton with chefs in tall hats buzzing in and out of the crod wih plates of hot food. My photos don't justice to just how cool and impressive a job the event organisers have done and how rad a place Korea is. Went to the W-Hotel lobby for a quick drink (geez thats a swank place) then hit the sack around 1am for a 6am start.

I also had a quick look at the Embedded Design category, but the day's proceedings had finished by the time I got there. But I did snap the odd photo (and I do mean odd - see below) of a few entries.... I'll get some photos up in my next post of some of the better entries.