The world finals are done for another year! Congratulations to the entry from Thailand, this year's winner. The Thai team combined an enigmatic presentation style with a slick WPF interface to form an entry that aims to combat illiteracy. "Lifebook" is a classic example of a simple idea with impeccable execution. Users need a webcam to capture text, digitize it with OCR, then learn to read by (A) bringing up pictures of certain keywords in the text that the app recognises and (B) reading the text itself out to users. The app can also forseeably have value in the teaching of foreign languages, as it has mulit-language capability. Whilst the solution itself may not be a typical example of the high complexity many of the other entries had, it was a great example of good user interface and simplicity personified. Well Done, Thailand!
Shooting a bright screen in a dark hall is tricky! Thailand's winning entry.
Second place getters Korea built a very impressive embedded device using gloves that help blind deaf people communicate. Deaf Blind people communicate using “fingerbraille”, which involves touching other people’s fingers in certain patterns and places to convey alphabet letters. The Korean team developed a way for blind deaf people to communicate remotely, by developing gloves that (A) read movements in a persons hand to read what they are trying to convey in finger brail and (B) transmit this same message to a remote user, who may also be blind deaf, via vibrations on the top of the gloves and though the use of an MSN like chat tool. This means you no longer need to be in the same physical location as another person to use finger brail. Seeing the user accceptance testing videos of an actual blind deaf person using it to chat online was touching and amazing.
The Korean entry, 'Finger Code'
Jamaica's entry rounded out the top 3. “CADI” is a virtual learning environment, allowing people from different coutries who speak different lanaguages to use the same course materials. Effectively, this means language is no longer a barrier to education, since content can be shared and instant messages exchanged between people from different countries and speaking different languages. These guys seemed to be the people's sentimental champs, with loud cheers and cameras flashing everytime they took the stage.
The Jamaican team, 'CADI'
On another note, I need to say a massive congratulations to the Australia team from University of Canberra for this year. I think that their entry was technically more advanced than many of the entries that made it through to the final 6, and I think that showing of an interface for blind people to judges who have full vision is a very difficult task. the work they have done in user acceptance and in maximising usability for blind people will make a diffference to blind people's lives and enable them to have more job opportunities than they currently do, so I congratulate them on their decision to give their entry to Vision Australia when they finish development.
On another note, thanks to everyone who ended up coming along to Imagine Cup. Hopefully you all came away feeling, like me, that this was one of the best times of your life. It was great to meet so many people with interesting ideas and personalities (and also very surpising to see how much of an international readership this blog has - I didn't realise anyone outside of Australia was reading). The Korean MSPs in particular need to be thanked, because they did an amazing job and made everyone feel so special and welcomed.