And…it’s on! Today marked the first day of the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals competition in N.Y.C. Teams from all over the world, including four of the U.A. teams, (note: Team LifeLens is presenting tomorrow) pitched judges in their representative project categories this afternoon, for their chance to get to the next level. We had the pleasure of sitting in on the presentations today, and wanted to be the first to give you the low down.  Congratulations to all teams for making it this far in the process, and we’ll report back after the elimination round later tonight.

ICsquared

ICsquared, from Ithaca College, presented today to an esteemed panel of judges. Team members Ashley Alicea, Evan Marinaro, Corey Jeffers, and Marc Howard begun their pitch today, explaining “This battle is taking place every single day…in millions of women.” A powerful start for this team who created a fun and unique game that promotes maternal and child health. More than 500,000 women and 1 million children die each year from diseases ad ailments that take place in the embryonic stage.

Some of the game aspects—which they demoed in front of the judges this afternoon—including a demonstration of how to locate and remove (in the game) items such as alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine—virtually bring home the very real impact of poor health and lifestyle choices when a woman in pregnant. The medical resources section of their game has potential other applications as well, such as a resource for government agencies or school/university education.

The judges, which included Patricio Jutard the founder of Three Melons, a video game development company acquired by Playdom and later by The Walt Disney Company creator of the social game Bola, and Marina Pospergelis, a Computer Graphic Interface Developer from Russia at InfoWatch.

To vote for this team in the People's Choice (ending soon!) please visit: http://bit.ly/mLbFKM

Syntax Errors

Syntax Errors, a team from Santiago Canyon College, also presented today in front of a great group of judges. Their project, F.R.E.D. is a market-ready, fully functional disaster response system that helps emergency responders find medicine, food, water, and other emergency aid services. F.R.E.D., which stands for First Responders Embedded Device, is a self-contained mobile workstation based on an embedded RTOS platform that can track assets in real-time.

The team members - Gary Kelley, Dale Laizure, Hayden Donze, and Bill Vetter are mentored by Dr. Ronald P. Kessler, PhD. They stood up to present today, and each took turns explaining the various properties of F.R.E.D. that they worked on.

F.R.E.D. is a tool that can help with disasters such as the recent Tsunamis in Japan, the earthquake in Haiti, and any future disaster that might occur. The team pointed out that it is within the first few days after a disaster that access to supplies, and the need for a tool such as F.R.E.D. is the most critical. Getting help to victims of a disaster as fast as possible helps keep people alive.

F.R.E.D. is battery-powered asset with GPS capability providing the user’s exact location and it tracks assets such as food and medical supplies every 5 seconds.

The judges, who included Sam Phung, the VP of sales and marketing for ICOP Technology, and  Erwin Zwart , an embedded technology expert from the Netherlands were impressed with the real-word capabilities, the competitive differentiation matrix, and with the end-to-end solution, which included low-cost and off-the-shelf components.

 

Azmo the Dragon

Team members Veronica Burkel, Pierre Elias, Eric lee, Chase Sandmann, presented today to judges that included Tracy Fullerton, the Director, USC Game Innovation Lab, an experimental design group and think tank known for games such as Cloud, flOw, Darfur is Dying and The Night Journey, and Frank J. Lee  the Associate Teaching Professor, Co-Director, Drexel Game Design Program and RePlay Game Lab, Drexel University.

Team Dragon has created a game called Azmo the Dragon, where technology helps solve the world’s toughest problems. Pediatric asthma is a serious global problem that 8 out of 10 children suffer from. It has enormous financial costs as well as self-esteem and lifestyle costs for those that suffer from it.

The 2D role playing game combines emerging technology and is on the Windows phone. It’s main goal is to destroy villages—the more fire your breath has (measured by the game spirometer), the more fire you have to destroy the villages. As your lungs get stronger, you have more fire. The game records the readings and sends to a doctor or alerts the user if lung function is failing. The game includes a diagnostic strategy – to CAR: calibrate, assess, and review. The game goals to use twice a day and includes an 8-hour a cool down and limits playing time as a way to keep children healthy.

The team demonstrated their game and showed the Peak Flow meter used daily monitors the changes in your lungs day to day, when you have the strongest lung volume, and the entire loop of lung function. Daily measurement is critical for users since sufferers can see the decrease in lung function before they have an asthma attack. The game also includes homework assignments such as understanding your peak flow meter, and because the game is enjoyable and provides data to doctors (for research, too), it has practical application for improving health and quality of life. The team would like to do a clinical study with funding from the national asthma association and others.

The judges’ questions included asking why the team wanted to use mobile, and the team responded that children are on smartphones, and this way they could play while away from home. In the long run the team would love to make their game part of the phone. Great questions and another interesting presentation.

To vote for this team in the People's Choice (ending soon!) please visit: http://bit.ly/iPLpg0

 

Note-Taker

Imagine not being able to see the board in a classroom, or on a whiteboard in your office. Sadly that is the case for millions of people with impaired vision. Team Note-Taker team members David Hayden, Michael Asterisks, Qian Yan, and Shashank Srinivas pitched the judges today on their technology, which allows visually impaired students to take notes. To start their presentation they explained the market need, how existing technologies were very limited.

The team, from Arizona State University (ASU), had a personal reason for starting the company. David Hayden, a straight A student who is also legally blind, added a math major  in college, and discovered that the notes in class would fill a dozen boards. He was not able to follow class—and had to withdraw from the class.  He came up with an ideal solution that take a tablet PC that takes touch and pen inputs; attaches a camera that zooms on the board (pan and tilt); and uses custom software to support handwritten and typed notes, with camera manipulation. Methods today do not allow students to manipulate the camera, or are not portable. By using a solution such as the Note-Taker, students who are vision impaired can reduce the time and struggle in keeping up with their sighted peers in classes.

The technologies used include C++, Windows 7 SDK, Win32, C sharp, .NET framework, and the manufactured design helps lower cost (injection mold, consolidate electronics to one board).

The target audience is people with low-vision and the blind—people who right now might forego higher education due to simply not being able to see in the classroom. Other markets would include vocational rehabilitation agencies.

The team is looking at simplified models for developing markets, and wants to help mainstream low-vision students—so they can help make a huge global impact.  

Team Note-Taker’s assistive technology for vision-impaired students would require VC funding, and the team discussed this with the judges, during the Q&A, as well as pricing, assumptions on how students would use it, and additional modifications.

To vote for this team in the People's Choice (ending soon!) please visit: http://bit.ly/jFXOMz

Stay tuned for the announcement tonight on who moves on to the next round!