S. Somasegar is the corporate vice president of the Developer Division at Microsoft. Learn more about Somasegar.
Every year I look forward to be at the Imagine Cup Finals.
It is a remarkable opportunity for me to see the innovative things that these young students (students today and business/technology leaders tomorrow) have developed and their passion for technology. This year, the theme is “Imagine a world where technology enables a sustainable environment”.
It has been fascinating to see the numbers of students engaged in this competition grow from 1,000 students in the first year of the competition to 200,000 students this year from all over the world.
As these students come together they are applying their powerful ideas and energy to real world issues that face each of us. Over the years of this competition students have applied their energies to create solutions to address healthcare, education, and with this year’s competition – environmental sustainability.
As you take a look at the projects these teams have created it is impressive to see the creativity and complexity they have achieved. It has also been rewarding to watch what these students have been able to achieve through the inspiration of this competition. One of my favorite examples:
Sign2Talk was developed as an Imagine Cup 2005 project by a team of students from Greece. Sign2Talk aims to build a communication boundary between people with hearing loss and the rest of the community. Sign2Talk uses a combination of a custom made armband to acquire data related to the arm and hand movement in order to recognize Sign Language gestures and then translates those gestures into text and speech and speech into Sign Language gestures or text through a PocketPC. Following the Innovation Accelerator 2006 program, the team received 675,000 Euros from the Greek Ministry of Development as part of an 18 month long research grant. With this grant, the team is working with three companies and four university labs to develop a reliable prototype.
I see the Imagine Cup as a great opportunity to learn from the students of today. We need to make big, bold bets to help each of these students achieve their potential. They have the capacity to have a broad and positive impact in each of their countries and it is an honor to recognize them here today.