S. Somasegar is the corporate vice president of the Developer Division at Microsoft. Learn more about Somasegar.
This week the Imagine Cup 2005 Worldwide Finals are taking place in Japan. Those who read my blog know how excited I get about the innovative projects participating students have dreamed up this year. I could go on for pages about the power of software to change peoples’ lives and the huge opportunity for students around the world to make a difference through technology. We have, after all, only scratched the surface of what’s possible when the skill of high technology meets the creativity of high art. Students embody this above all others, and the Imagine Cup is their showcase.
For instance, I heard about the student team from Greece that developed a “SmartEyes” application that will navigate 150 pilot users through Athens’ myriad streets, traffic lights, landmarks and so forth. If the pilot program turns out to be successful, the students will have the opportunity of a large-scale deployment of their invention, and, who knows, maybe someday thousands or even millions of visually impaired people will be navigating their cities and towns with a device first conceived for Imagine Cup.
Or the students from Brazil and Austria, each having developed applications for mobile devices designed to enhance, simplify and maximize tourists’ experience when they are visiting a new place (in very interesting but different ways). Both teams are in the early stages of building businesses out of their creations.
Or the team from my home country of India, which has developed a medical application that provides a one-stop resource for doctors to understand their patients’ histories and communicate with other doctors in real time – among other things. Doctors who have better data and peer access make better decisions faster; one day their application may literally be measured by the number of lives it saves.
These are just a few that caught my interest – the Imagine Cup worldwide finals include 80 teams competing in nine college and three high school invitationals. And while the winners will walk away with some serious cash, all teams will walk away with great experiences, new friendships and quite possibly new opportunities to shape the world we live in through software.
The journey is the most important thing, and I know that the students who participated in the Imagine Cup 2005 had a great time doing the journey. I wish all the very best to these students and good luck for those teams who are in the finals this week.