Innovation, Nerves on Display as Students Start Imagine Cup Competition

WARSAW, Poland – July 4, 2010 – Diogo Romero Burgos do Nascimento was too busy fiddling with his laptop to notice an Imagine Cup official enter the cramped presentation room.

Brazil team member Diogo Romero Burgos do Nascimento presents Team  T.M.D.'s Recycle-Box project at the Imagine Cup World Finals.Warsaw,  Poland, July 4, 2010.
Brazil team member Diogo Romero Burgos do Nascimento presents Team T.M.D.’s Recycle-Box project at the Imagine Cup World Finals.Warsaw, Poland, July 4, 2010.

“Brazil team, are you guys ready? Judges will be here in two minutes.”

Burgos do Nascimento looked up, paused, and then exhaled.

“Yes,” he said.

As the judges entered and a small cadre of international press looked on, the nervous Brazilian student circled the presentation table once and rubbed his hands together. Moment later, a large clock next to him started to tick off his 10 minutes. “Let’s imagine a world where technology can solve the world’s largest problems,” he began.

For the next nine minutes and 30 seconds on Sunday, July 4, Burgos do Nascimento described his team’s Recycle-Box project as he made his case before the judges deciding if Team T.M.D. would advance to the next round of the Imagine Cup’s embedded development contest. Similar displays of nerves were playing out in presentation rooms across Warsaw’s Palace of Culture as competition got underway at the 2010 Imagine Cup World Finals. Now through July 8, 400 students at the Imagine Cup will be competing for cash prizes totaling approximately $240,000 across five competition categories and six awards.

After his presentation, Brazil’s Burgos do Nascimento admitted he had been a little nervous. “It’s good to be out of the presentation room,” he said. But he expressed confidence he would have another chance to make his case. “We’re here to win.”

Meanwhile, all 113 teams gathered in Warsaw for the Imagine Cup spent parts of their Sunday setting up their project presentations in display booths in advance of a Monday presentation day for the press. In front of his team’s booth, Romania’s Andrei Cantea was getting a massage from teammate Alina Calin to help calm his nerves.

It was the team’s first international competition, he explained. They were nervous, but they also were eager to discuss their project with passersby. Called Caregamer, their project is a web application that leverages the worldwide popularity of video games to solve some of world’s toughest problems, Cantea said. Players visiting the Caregamer site can raise money for their preferred causes by playing a video game and earning points. Based on the number of points raised, a percentage of all advertising funds raised by the site will be donated to charity.

Like many other groups competing at the Imagine Cup, Team Simplex already has its project up and running in the “real world.” The Caregamer site has already attracted “a serious amount of advertisers,” including a famous one from Transylvania. “We have funds from Dracula himself,” Cantea quipped.

The team said that they hope to do well at the Imagine Cup, but winning wasn’t the most important thing. “When we came up

Imagine Cup Captain Paolo Tosolini speaks at a press conference at  the Imagine Cup Finals. Seated next to him are Captains Andrew Parsons  (L) and Rand Morimoto (R). Warsaw, Poland, July 4, 2010.
Imagine Cup Captain Paolo Tosolini speaks at a press conference at the Imagine Cup Finals. Seated next to him are Captains Andrew Parsons (L) and Rand Morimoto (R). Warsaw, Poland, July 4, 2010.

with the idea, we wanted to use it and enter the Imagine Cup,” Cantea said. “After developing it and seeing how it could do some good, we thought it would be great if we could come here and get attention.”

Win or lose, the Imagine Cup is not the end but the beginning for Caregamer, he added.

Thailand’s Team SuperLove Factory expressed the same sentiment. Shining a light on the problems it tackles is what’s most important to the team. “We need to spread the love to the blind people,” said Sruit Angkavanitsuk.

The team’s entry for the embedded development contest is called the Braille Eye Project. Using various input devices such as a camera, the project that lets blind individuals visualize the world around them by touching and feeling a generated “simulation image.”

Jootharphim Pongschatmane (left) and Suthat Rongraung of Team  SuperLove Factory present their Braille Eye Project at the Imagine Cup  World Finals in Warsaw, Poland. July 4, 2010.
Jootharphim Pongschatmane (left) and Suthat Rongraung of Team SuperLove Factory present their Braille Eye Project at the Imagine Cup World Finals in Warsaw, Poland. July 4, 2010.

The idea behind SuperLove Factory’s project came out of Angkavanitsuk’s experience volunteering at a blind school, which he’s done for the past three years. “When the students asked me, ‘Am I beautiful?’ I cannot answer them. So I started thinking about this project.”

The Thai students weren’t nervous, they said, but they were sleepy; they had practiced and polished their presentation until 4 a.m. the night before. And like Romania’s Team Simplex, they would rather raise awareness for their project and its potential impact.

“When we finish here at the Imagine Cup, maybe our idea can go out into world,” said Suthat Rongraung. “It could be the begging of the idea that the blind can see.”

Advertisements

State of Florida Leverages Microsoft Cloud Solution for Census Count

TALLAHASSEE — June 11, 2010 — The Florida House of Representatives is making one final push over the next month for its state residents to be counted in the 2010 Census, through its MyFloridaCensus (http://www.myfloridacensus.gov) website and Web-based application. MyFloridaCensus is an innovative component in Florida’s overall effort to ensure a complete count of residents during the ongoing 2010 Census, supplementing door-to-door canvassing, which ends nationwide July 10.

MyFloridaCensus is hosted in the Windows Azure cloud platform and runs using Microsoft Silverlight for cross-browser compatibility. With the support of a Bing Maps interface, the collective technology allows visitors to share their experiences with the 2010 Census and build a social user-generated experience around the once-per-decade count. In turn, the Florida House provides the U.S. Census Bureau, state and local governments, and citizens with dynamic feedback and visual representations of that feedback. Unlike most traditional government websites, MyFloridaCensus offers Floridians the opportunity to take part in the gathering of information, and thus affords individual citizens the opportunity to speak for the betterment of their communities.

“Once Florida residents share the census impact in their communities, we use MyFloridaCensus.gov to work with the U.S. Census Bureau to account for streets, neighborhoods and communities that may otherwise be missed in the 2010 Census,” said Florida state Rep. Dean Cannon.

Basic Needs, New Tools

Government agencies are more frequently being asked to communicate with their constituencies with the vigor and versatility of the private sector. The combination of Azure, Silverlight and Bing Maps gives the Florida House the ability to build a dynamic front-end user experience supported by a back-end system that optimizes for flexibility and can satisfy heavy peak demand usage. Equally important, MyFloridaCensus provides a successful proof of concept for future cloud-based public service endeavors. In 2011, the Florida House will transition MyFloridaCensus into an online tool for the public to participate in the process of redrawing political boundary lines (redistricting).

“Florida is not only on the leading edge of engaging its citizens on Census participation, but the Windows Azure solution they’ve chosen to build has broader applicability for future resident engagement,” said Gail Thomas-Flynn, vice president of State and Local Government at Microsoft. “More of our state customers are following this approach and moving unique and ongoing citizen services to the cloud platforms that can scale up and down according to need.”

The Florida House chose to host the application in a cloud environment because application use is expected to be high for only a few critical weeks and then gradually fall off over time, until the launch of a new application in 2011. Windows Azure hosting provides the ability to expand and contract the use of server space, helping reduce the cost to taxpayers when the site is not in peak use.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://www.microsoft.com/news. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/news/contactpr.mspx.

Microsoft Outlines Progress Toward a Safer, More Trusted Internet

SAN FRANCISCO — March 2, 2010 — Today at RSA Conference 2010, Microsoft Corp. outlined how the company continues to make progress toward its End to End Trust vision. In his keynote address, Scott Charney, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Group, explained how the company’s vision for End to End Trust applies to cloud computing, detailed progress toward a claims-based identity metasystem, and called for public and private organizations alike to prevent and disrupt cybercrime.

“End to End Trust is our vision for realizing a safer, more trusted Internet,” said Charney. “To enable trust inside, and outside, of cloud computing environments will require security and privacy fundamentals, technology innovations, and social, economic, political and IT alignment.”

Further, Charney explained that identity solutions that provide more secure and private access to both on-site and cloud applications are key to enabling a safer, more trusted enterprise and Internet. As part of that effort, Microsoft today released a community technology preview of the U-Prove technology, which enables online providers to better protect privacy and enhance security through the minimal disclosure of information in online transactions. To encourage broad community evaluation and input, Microsoft announced it is providing core portions of the U-Prove intellectual property under the Open Specification Promise, as well as releasing open source software development kits in C# and Java editions. Charney encouraged the industry, developers and IT professionals to develop identity solutions that help protect individual privacy.

The company also shared details about a new partnership with the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems in Berlin on an interoperability prototype project integrating U-Prove and the Microsoft identity platform with the German government’s future use of electronic identity cards.

As further evidence of how the company is enabling a safer, more trusted enterprise, Microsoft also today released Forefront Identity Manager 2010, a part of its Business Ready Security strategy. Forefront Identity Manager enables policy-based identity management across diverse environments, empowers business customers with self-service capabilities, and provides IT professionals with rich administrative tools.

In addition, Charney reviewed company efforts to creatively disrupt and prevent cybercrime. Citing Microsoft’s recently announced Operation b49, a Microsoft-led initiative to neutralize the well-known Waledac botnet, Charney stated that while focusing on security and privacy fundamentals and threat mitigation remains necessary, the industry needs to be more aggressive in blunting the impact of cybercriminals. Operation b49 is an example of how the private sector can get more creative in its collective approach to fighting criminals online.

“We are committed to collaborating with industry and governments worldwide to realize a safer, more trusted Internet through the creative disruption and prevention of cybercrime,” Charney said.

More information about Microsoft’s End to End Trust vision is available at http://www.microsoft.com/endtoendtrust.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://www.microsoft.com/news. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/news/contactpr.mspx.

%d bloggers like this: