The Imagine Cup competition—which recently concluded its tenth year—throws the spotlight on cutting-edge innovations. Two-thirds of the education-focused projects utilized Microsoft Kinect in a variety of different ways, including interactive therapy for stroke victims, an automated cart to help make solo trips to crowded public places manageable for the disabled, and an application to help dyslexic children learn the alphabet.

Team Wi-GO of Portugal invented a Kinect-enabled cart to aid the disabled.

Team Wi-GO of Portugal invented a Kinect-enabled cart to aid the disabled.

Students from 75 countries participated in the Imagine Cup Finals, held July 6 to 11 in Sydney, Australia, which featured more than 100 projects. Kinect for Windows played a significant role in this year's competition, with 28 Kinect-enabled projects across multiple categories—including Software Design, Game Design, Windows Azure, and a Fun Labs Challenge that was focused entirely on Kinect.

With the goal of using technology to help solve the world's toughest problems, students put Kinect to work providing the digital eyes, ears, and tracking capabilities needed for a range of potential new products and applications. We applaud all of the teams who incorporated Kinect for Windows into their projects this year! Here are highlights from a few of them:

  • Third-place Software Design Category: Team wi-GO (Portugal) designed a cart to free the hands of a person in a wheelchair. It tracks the person seated in the chair while avoiding obstacles (including other people) when navigating through crowded stores, malls, airports, hospitals, and more. The solution may even have industrial applications, serving as a tool to transport objects without the need for human assistance.
    Tools: Kinect for Windows, Windows 8, and Netduino open-source electronics platform with .NET Micro Framework
  • Second-place Kinect Fun Labs Challenge: Team Whiteboard Pirates (United States) developed Duck Duck Punch, a "game" that provides therapy to people who have experienced strokes and need help improving their range-of-arm motion. This “game” has the patient stretch to hit digital birds within prescribed limits; physical therapists can tailor the experience to each individual’s needs.
    Tools: Kinect for Windows and Kinect Gadget Accelerator Kit
  • Third-place Kinect Fun Labs Challenge: Team Flexify (Poland) made Reh the Dragon, a rehabilitation application that transforms tedious rehabilitation exercises for children into a fun and engaging game-like adventure.
    Tools: Kinect for Windows and XNA Game Studio
  • Health Awareness Award: Italian Ingenium Team (Italy) developed The Fifth Element Project, which uses Kinect voice recognition and motion detection to help autistic children learn through play and movement.
    Tools: Kinect for Xbox 360, Windows Azure, Windows 7, and Windows 8
  • People's Choice Award: The D Labs (India) built a tool for children who have dyslexia that aids in alphabet identification and other skills while tracking behavioral patterns.
    Tools: Kinect for Xbox 360, Microsoft Silverlight, Windows Azure, XNA Game Studio, and Windows 8
  • Finalist: Make a Sign (Belgium) created a sign language database, complete with Kinect motion tracking that confirms when a gesture is performed correctly.
    Tools: Kinect for Xbox 360, Windows Phone, and Windows Azure

"Imagine Cup is about giving students the resources and tools they need to succeed and then getting out of their way and letting them create," said Walid Abu-Hadba, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Developer and Platform Evangelism group. "Kinect in particular is unlocking a new class of interactive solutions. It's inspiring to watch the way students from a multitude of backgrounds find common ground as they combine their love of technology with their determination to make a difference. It's amazing."

We look forward to next year’s Imagine Cup. In the meantime, keep up the great work.

Kinect for Windows Team

Key Links

• Kinect for Windows Gallery
• Imagine Cup website
• Imagine Cup winners and finalists
• Team wi-GO
• Team Whiteboard Pirates
• Team Flexify
• Italian Ingenium Team
• The D Labs
• Make a Sign