Microsoft Corp. announced the winners of the 10th annual Imagine Cup, the world’s premier student technology competition, honouring student technology innovations that address the world’s toughest problems. The winning Software Design project developed by Ukrainian Team QuadSquad allows deaf individuals to communicate verbally using custom-designed sensory gloves and a smartphone application to translate sign language gestures into speech.

Team QuadSquad from the Ukraine took top honours in the Software Design Competition with its device, Enable Talk, which uses a pair of gloves equipped with 15 flex sensors and a microcontroller that continuously recognise sign language patterns, which are then transmitted via Bluetooth to a Windows Phone device that uses the Microsoft Speech API and Bing API to translate the signs into audio. With its victory, the team won US$25,000.

Team QuadSquad was not the only competitor whose project was designed to enhance the quality of life for the disabled. Twenty-three per cent of Imagine Cup projects this year were created to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities such as visual and hearing impairments and diseases that limit a human’s physical mobility.

In 2004, more than 275 million people globally had moderate to profound hearing impairment, 80 per cent of them in low- and middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organisation’s most recent data.

“We were inspired to help our friends who are hearing- and speech-impaired to have the ability to communicate like everyone else,” said Maxim Osika, Team QuadSquad. “The Imagine Cup is an amazing experience; we’re thrilled to be here learning from the experts around us.”

 


Video above: the testing process for the new Enable Talk device.

The Imagine Cup 2012 competition winners were recently announced at the Imagine Cup World Festival and Awards Ceremony at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, in front of 106 student teams. The event was the culmination of a five-day celebration of technology, teamwork and innovation.

More than 350 students from 75 countries travelled to Sydney after competing in local and online events, representing the best and brightest selected to compete in the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals. Cash prizes totalling approximately US$175,000 were awarded across eight competition categories.

Games focused on the environment from Thailand team TANG Thai and math education from U.S. team Drexel Dragons won the two Game Design competitions.

Posted by Howard - Content and Communities Manager, Microsoft UK.