Team Think from Lincoln University in the South Island has won the local national finals of the 2009 Microsoft Imagine Cup.
The Imagine Cup, now in its third year in New Zealand, is a student technology competition. More than 250,000 students from 100 countries entered this year – a record level of participation, according to Microsoft.
As a theme, Microsoft called on young programmers, artists and designers to use technology to solve the world’s most pressing challenge. Team Think addressed this challenge in their entry by aiming to improve education through a simple tablet and PC interface. The team identified that learning reading and writing requires practice through verbal communication and hand gestures.
The team devised a program for tablets that provides both handwriting recognition and audio output, eliminating the need for basic lessons or instructions. They hope to take this prototype to developing countries, such as Brazil, that have computers that are not being used due to literacy issues.
Team Think will now have the chance to win a grand prize of US$25,000 cash in Cairo, Egypt this July.
Microsoft New Zealand country manager Kevin Ackhurst says the answers to today’s problems lie in the minds of tomorrow’s leaders. “The solution put forward by Team Think is a perfect example. Based on what I’ve seen of the ideas demonstrated throughout the competition, the future has never been in more capable hands.”