Imagine Cup Canada 2012 Winners! Changing the world!


    Check out the amazing entries and winners of the Canadian 2012 Imagine Cup!

    Wow! That’s the word that comes to mind when I think of the presentations I saw Monday at the Canadian finals. Congratulations to all the students who took the stage to talk about their solutions to help healthcare, the environment, and medical research. Your work was nothing less than inspiring!

    For everyone who couldn't be there in person, enjoy this video sharing some of the highlights of what was truly an inspirational day and scroll down to find out about the Canadian winners!


    I can’t possibly sum up the day in a single video or blog post, so you’ll be seeing a series of blog posts highlighting different aspects of the Imagine Cup. But I can sum it up in 2 words: Students rock! I think their work challenges the rest of us to raise the bar a little higher for ourselves.

    Now without further ado, here are the results

    Software Design

    This category requires the use of Visual Studio and the .NET Framework plus one additional Microsoft technology such as Azure, Kinect, Windows Phone, Windows 8, or Windows Embedded. Teams may also integrate additional technologies into their solutions including non-Microsoft technologies to create their solutions. The winner of this category will represent Canada at the world finals in Australia.

    First Place
    Team Greeni- George Brown College
    Team Greeni is tackling the challenge of climate change. Energy is wasted every day when office buildings leave on lights and fans to keep air circulating. Sure we have motion sensors in meeting rooms, but don’t sit still too long or the lights go out.
    Using a Kinect sensor, light sensors, CO2 sensors, the Phidget library, some ingenuity and code running on Azure, they have created a sensor system that will determine when to turn fans and lights on and off. Controlled by sensor or by voice this system is already proven to save electricity in their lab at school. The voice control also makes it suitable for someone with a disability to control their environment.
    IMG_4409-048Team Greeni (Dmitry Zhivotovsky, Alecsander Granger, Timur Sharaftinov, Vasily Gurin and mentor Leo Salemi)from George Brown College will represent Canada in Australia at the World Wide Finals.
    Second Place
    Team Nimbus - University of British Columbia

    Black market drugs and overpriced drugs caused by drug company monopolies are making it difficult for citizens to access important drugs to treat even commonplace diseases like Malaria in many countries. Team Nimbus developed an ASP.NET MVC website, a Windows Phone application for remote access, and leveraged the power of Azure and Bing Web Services to implement a solution that would allow pharmaceutical companies to sell and ship their drugs to doctors around the world. This would create competition in monopolized markets and reduce drug costs and the need for the black market making essential drugs available and affordable to those in developing countries.
    Team Nimbus (Pavel Islam, Caleb Ho, Matthew Park, Amin Ali) present their solution Global Pharmacy Connection
    Third Place
    Team D19 - McGill University
    How do you get treatment to patients in rural villages in India? Doctors prefer to work in the cities, but that leaves a large portion of the population with no health care services.
    Team D19 developed a Windows 8 application and a Windows Phone application that allows you to give minimal training to someone in a village to act as a Health Care Worker. Armed with a phone they can interview patients in villages and send information back to the doctor in the city who can suggest treatment. Abhijeet and Shravan will be travelling to India this summer for a pilot of their idea.
    IMG_1469-011Team D19 (Abhijeet Kalyan and Shravan Narayan) present their solution to rural health care in India

    Windows Phone Game Design

    In this category students are limited to using a Windows Phone Game to help solve one of the world’s problems. The teams at this year’s finals did an amazing job trying to inspire and educate through their games

    First Place
    Team Project Beacon – Carleton University
    Project Beacon built a Windows Phone Game called Breathe. The game premise is an astronaut who has returned to earth only to discover that pollution has destroyed our precious planet and he must solve puzzles to reduce the pollution before his oxygen runs out.
    IMG_4422-050Team Project Beacon (Eva Demers-Brett, Curtis Field, Gar Lam, Clark McGillis and mentor Jean-Sylvain Sormany) celebrate first place in the Windows Phone game category
    Second Place
    Team Novarum – Carleton University
    Many countries receive aid to try and feed the hungry, but getting that food to those who need it is harder than you would expect. Team Novarum built a game called Feed The People which reminds us of the challenges in getting food to those who need it.
    IMG_1474-001Team Novarum (Ryan Bottriel, Zara Tooth, Skye Gagne and Matthew Fournier who couldn’t attend the finals mentored by Jean-Sylvain Sormany) present their game Feed The People.
    Third Place
    Team Phylo – McGill University
    Imagine if solving a puzzle in a game actually helped genetic research! That’s the premise behind the game Phylo. One of the things humans still do better than computers is recognize patterns. Patterns are key to analyzing genetic sequences and identifying mutations. Phylo presents puzzles that represent actual genetic sequences and asks you to match the patterns. When players solve the puzzles their results can be sent back to the McGill bioinformatic department database analyzed and applied into active research.
    Team Phylo (Chu Wu, Alfred Kam with help from David Becerra and mentored by Jerome Waldispuhl) present their game to the judges
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    McGill students providing rural health care with a phone, Windows 8 and the cloud


    223MicroImagCup-223At the Canadian Imagine Cup, two students from McGill university try to address the challenge of providing healthcare in rural areas using a Windows Phone application, the cloud, and a Windows 8 application. Their solution earned them 3rd place at the Canadian Imagine Cup Finals.

    The Problem:

    India is one of the world’s largest countries, home to over a billion people. It is also one of the poorest countries, over 72% of the population live in villages. Rural India has very poor healthcare, 43$ have no access to healthcare. 70% have no resident doctor and 80% of medical workers are unqualified.

    The Solution:

    Connect doctors and patients, provide an easy way for patients to express their symptoms and provide an infrastructure for doctors to diagnose rural patients and recommend appropriate actions.

    Technologies Used:

    Windows Phone, Windows 8 and SQL Azure

    What did they do?

    Abhijeet Kalyan and Shravan Narayan from McGill university came up with project Neem, a rural healthcare solution. The solution revolves around a village healthcare worker. You find someone in the village who is respected in the community, and is computer literate to act as the village healthcare worker. You provide them with some very basic medical training and a Windows Phone. Using the Windows Phone they can scan the national id card of a patient. Any stored information about the patient is retrieved. The village healthcare worker has enough training to take a temperature, check blood sugar levels, check a pulse or blood pressure. These vitals can be recorded in the phone application. The health care worker can also record any particular symptoms the patient reports by tapping the area of the body and selecting the symptoms


    image image

    The patient data is stored in SQL Azure and then accessed by doctors in the city through a Windows 8 application. The doctors can review the patients symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment. With the Skype application on Windows Phone, the team is also considering adding a Skype option for direct patient to doctor or doctor to healthcare worker interaction.

    Shravan and Abhijeet also see a bigger picture of using the data generated from the application to help public health organizations, governments and aid agencies. A desktop data analytics application could help interpret the data and identify trends while still keeping patient information anonymous. Perhaps helping agencies identify what diseases are diagnosed in different regions.

    Rural healthcare isn’t just a challenge in India, this is a challenge we face in Canada as well, as many doctors feel they will have a higher quality of life setting up practice in the city leaving small towns woefully short of desperately needed medical services. Hopefully the work done by these students will be the beginning of a solution.

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    How do you get your Windows 8 app to the store?


    Windows 8 Start ScreenIf you want a token for the Windows 8 store, you need to attend an app excellence lab.

    There is no question that the Windows 8 store is a significant opportunity, and getting in early will improve the chance of your app getting noticed. In Canada, your first chance to get a token to put your app in the store is by completing an app excellence lab. Bring your completed or nearly completed Windows 8 app to the lab and spend up to 4 hours with a trained Microsoft services engineer. They will help you get your app up to snuff, answer questions you may have, and give you tips on how you can improve your app.

    In this post I’ll explain

    • What is an app excellence lab?
    • How do I register for a lab?
    • Where can I learn more about building Windows 8 apps?
    • When are the app excellence labs?
    • What if I don’t live in a city with an app excellence lab?
    • Does my app have to be 100% complete to attend a lab?

    What is an app excellence lab?

    The lab is an up to 4-hour engagement with a trained Microsoft Services Engineer. This engineer will run your app through a series of tests based on a quality checklist to ensure your app is (or will be) in top-notch shape when you submit. You will also get a chance discuss ways to make your app even better and you will get answers to any questions you might have.

    When you schedule your slot, you receive a detailed survey with questions about your app, useful advice, links to guidelines, etc.  The survey is not the only criteria we use at the labs, but if you follow the preparation given in the survey, you will likely have a high-level, great app.

    If your app meets the criteria, you will  receive a token to register your developer account. Once verified, you will be able to submit your app to the Windows store. If your app does not meet the criteria, nothing is lost. You will still end up with a much better app and you will be able to submit it when registration opens for all developers.

    How do I register for a lab?

    Attend a Windows 8 Developer Camp, Windows 8 Design Clinic or Windows 8 Hackathon (upcoming cities and dates at the bottom of this blog post)


    Review the app-building content from the Windows Developer Centre to learn the fundamentals of building a great Metro-style Windows 8 App.

    Create a Windows 8 Metro-style app (or game) TODAY.  Get it ready as if you were submitting it to the store for certification.

    Read through all of the great UX Guidelines online in the design section of the Windows Developer Centre.

    Contact win8cdn@microsoft.com and include the following information:

    • Your Name
    • Your Address information
    • A brief application description (no binary, optional screenshot, but only send if the screenshot is not confidential)
    • Wait for Thomas Lewis to respond letting you know where and when the closest lab will be, at which point we’ll schedule a time slot that is mutually beneficial.

    Where can I learn more about building Windows 8 apps?




    if you can’t attend one of the Windows 8 events, you can still learn about how to build Windows 8 apps online at the Windows developer center and bring your app to the labs.

    When are the app excellence labs?

    Toronto May 22-25; May 28- June 1

    Montreal June 4 – 8

    Vancouver June 11-15; June 18-22

    What if I don’t live in a city where there’s an app excellence lab?

    Excellent question, well if you live nearby, your best bet is to drive to the nearest city where there is a lab, Ottawa to Montreal isn’t that far. But, if you live in Halifax or Edmonton that could be a challenge, let alone Yellowknife or St John’s. So, just submit your app information to win8cdn@microsoft.com as described above and register for a remote session using Skype or Lync during one of the lab weeks listed. Don't wait until the day before to request a time please, so we can address capacity issues.

    Does my app have to be 100% complete to attend a lab?

    Another good question, If your app is 100% complete then there is much higher chance that you will get a store token when you leave the lab. But there is still value in attending the labs with an app that is not completely finished. Up to 4 hours with a Microsoft engineer is sure going to help you figure out what little thing you need to add to finish up your application with the confidence that when you are finished it will be store ready. So, no your app doesn’t have to be 100% complete, but the closer to finished you have your app, the more you will get out of the app excellence lab.

    So what are you waiting for? Get coding Canada! I can’t wait to see what you build!

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    Great Windows 8 Apps != Complex Code


    Windows 8 Start ScreenWhen you use the power of the WinRT you can build some pretty amazing apps without requiring complex code. Leverage the code that’s already there to get a great app in the store early!

    When you are deploying an app to the store it’s better to have Timer than Timer698. Getting in the store early can make a difference. In Canada, the app excellence labs give you the earliest chance to publish to the store. But with the labs coming up in June, you may think you can’t build a decent app in time. Fair enough, some of you may have some amazing ideas that will take some time to develop. But there is so much you can do with a simple idea when you add the capabilities of WinRT.

    My kids have been playing computer games since they were 12 months old. As a parent I was always on the lookout for fun or educational computer games. One of the most common games was the match game. You have 4, 16, or 25 cards flipped upside down, you have to flip the cards over and find the matching pairs. This would be easy enough to build on Windows 8, but how do we take a simple app and bring that to the next level without a lot of work?  leverage WinRT!

    • How about using the File Pickers to let the player pick their own photos to use for the cards. Find the matching pictures of daddy, or your pet dog Kibbles.
    • How about letting players take new pictures with the webcam using Media.Capture? My kids would have happily sat on an airplane sticking out their tongue and making silly faces at a webcam, holding up their favourite stuffed animals, and plastic dinosaurs, to customize the cards in a match game.

    Media.capture was the first WinRT API I learned how to use! it’s become the Hello World of WinRT. After a little searching on dev.windows.com you will find everything you need to get started: You can download a sample app in C++, C# or Javascript; You can follow a Quickstart on capturing a photo with the camera dialog or using the MediaCapture API.

    Not every great app requires 3-6 months development time. You can build apps that will surprise and delight users in under a week with the help of WinRT and a little imagination. It’s also a great chance to learn more about the Windows 8 platform and how to publish apps to the store before you release *the* big app you are working on. Don’t miss out on your chance to be first to the store. Get coding, and contact Win8CDN@Microsoft.com to request a session either in person or remotely in one of the app excellence labs and get your app in the store.

    One last thing, if you decide to build and publish the match game I described above, let me know, I know some kids who will want to try it!

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    Your Windows 8 Update!


    Windows 8 Start ScreenMore Windows 8 events are coming to a city near you! Don’t miss out on these great chances to be one of the first in the Windows 8 store!

    More dates and cities have been added to the Windows 8 event list. Don’t miss out!

    • Hackathons are a chance to do some serious coding with help from onsite proctors
    • Design Clinics are 1-3 hours long and will help you better understand Metro Design
    • Camps are usually full day events, exact content will vary, but they are great for getting started building your first Windows 8 app.

    To get the most from the events, or to help you get started if there is no event near you:

    • Go to the Windows Developer Center to download Windows 8, Visual Studio 11 Express beta and find resources to help you get started building Windows 8 apps.
    • Check out the keynote and breakout sessions from Build
    • Follow the Building Windows 8 blog so you have the most up to date information about Windows 8 direct from the source!





    If you come to the Design Clinic or hackathon in Montreal, stop by and say hi, I’ll be there Smile

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