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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    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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    HTML5 for Internet Explorer and Windows 8


    cadhtml5coaMicrosoft really jumped on the HTML5 bandwagon in a big way with Internet Explorer 9 and now Windows 8, so how does this affect your sites and apps?

    There are really two big Microsoft platforms where you can leverage HTML5:

    • Internet Explorer 9 & 10
    • Windows 8

    Internet Explorer 9 & 10

    When Internet Explorer 9 came out, many a web developer was pleased to see HTML5 support. The more browsers that support HTML5 the less we have to write different code for different browsers. Internet Explorer 10 supports even more HTML5 features than IE 9! You can check out all sorts of great examples of the HTML5 features at ietestdrive.com you will also find a few sites on there which will even help you write your CSS and HTML5 Code. As a programmer, nothing I like better than cut and paste! Start exploring HTML5 features (WOFF rocks) and use them in your code today. I know not every browser supports everything yet, so you will want some feature detection and fallback code for older browsers, but you should be preparing your sites for the newest browsers, so those who do have new browsers have the best possible experience! Here are 4 basic steps you can do right now to get your web sites ready for IE 9 and IE 10!

    1. Update your docmode for web standards
    2. Run Compat Inspector to fix common IE problems
    3. Implement feature detection to support many browsers (We recommend using Modernizr)
    4. Create a plug-in free browsing experience for Windows 8 users

    Windows 8

    Usually when we think of developing Windows applications we think of Visual Basic, C#, and Windows Presentation Foundation. Windows 8 still supports developing with .NET and XAML (Silverlight and Windows Presentation Foundation are both based on XAML) but it also provided a new option, HTML5/CSS and JavaScript. That way developers with experience developing web sites can leverage their existing skills to build cool Windows 8 apps and games without having to learn a new programming language. HTML5 isn’t a second class citizen on Windows 8 either, with the WinRT you can leverage all sorts of great APIs, the same APIs that are available to the .NET and C++ developers. The WinRT is written in C++ but when you call it from your JavaScript you can’t tell. You can check out Dev.windows.com to find out more about building Windows 8 apps with HTML5.

    I have a dream…a dream where I write code once, just once, for multiple platforms and browsers … maybe we are getting a little closer.

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