Two medical students receive a $50,000 cheque from Microsoft after winning worldwide finals with an app that can diagnose anaemia
Two students from Australia have won the Imagine Cup trophy, and a $50,000 (£29,681) cheque from Microsoft, with their medical application at the worldwide finals of the annual student competition. Team Eyenemia built a simple, cloud-based solution that can diagnose anaemia when a user takes a ‘selfie’ alongside a colour-coded chart.
The young entrepreneurs are in the process of introducing the technology in Australia, before taking it to other countries around the world. As part of the prize, the team will get the chance to personally meet Bill Gates, the founder of one of the world’s largest technology companies and a notable philantrophist.
“We live in a time when we can imagine the impossible and make it probable,” Satya Nadella, recently appointed CEO of Microsoft, told the audience at the event. “And to be able to take that power – the power of software and tools – and democratise innovation, starting with youth, is something that’s truly inspirational for us at Microsoft.”
Smells like teen spirit
The twelfth annual event organised by Microsoft brought together 34 teams representing local competition finalists from all corners of the world. To participate, teams consisting of up to four students had to develop a technology application, create a business plan and find a way to take their product to the market.
This year, the Imagine Cup took place at Microsoft’s hometown of Seattle for the very first time. The winning team’s tool simplifies the diagnosis of anaemia – a condition which results from low amount of red cells or the lack of haemoglobin in the blood, and leaves the sufferers feeling tired, weak and unable to exercise. Anaemia is the most common disorder of the blood, affecting about a quarter of people globally.
Using their expertise, postgraduate medical students Jarrel Seah and Jennifer Tang created an app that analyses pictures of the the inside of the eyelid, and can diagnose severe anaemia with 95 percent accuracy. Team Eyenemia topped the World Citizenship category, before beating teams from Russia and New Zealand in the grand finals judged by Code.org co-founder Hadi Pavarti, Reddit GM Eric Martin and Nadella himself.
“We’re definitely excited about a chance to meet Bill Gates, and now we’re trying to figure out what we want to ask him,” Seah told TechWeekEurope. “For us, he’s an extremely inspirational person, and we are hoping to learn as much as we can.”
The $50,000 Innovation prize went to the team from New Zealand for their work on Estimeet – an application that monitors the attendance of meetings and events and can estimate when each participant will arrive, especially if they are late.
The Games category was dominated by Brainy Studio from Russia, who created TurnOn – a beautiful side-scrolling platformer about the nature of electricity, inspired by the “Earth Hour” – an annual environmental event that encourages people to turn off their non-essential lights.
“One of the amazing things about software development is that one or two people with a great idea, sitting in a dorm room or a garage, can make a huge impact,” said Bill Gates in a pre-recorded message for the Imagine Cup participants.”With today’s technologies like cloud computing and easy downloads for mobile devices, the opportunity to make a big impact very quickly is larger than ever. The Imagine Cup is an excellent way to recognise young innovators, and encourage them to keep working on ideas that can change the world.”
We had a good run
This year, the UK team is going home without a trophy, although that’s not going to stop it from developing its Ripple social network further. Meanwhile, the Irish team came third in the World Citizenship category with Access Earth – a crowdsourced, interactive map of venues that have made an effort to ease access for disabled.
Modelled on TripAdvisor, Access Earth goes much further than just giving out obscure five-star ratings – the detailed questionnaire includes 21 entries on things like lighting conditions, elevators, signage and the presence of automatic doors and handrails. The app is already available online and on Windows Phone.
“We are working with multiple NGOs, disability groups, advocacy groups to get the app out there. We’ve ran some focus groups and got some really good feedback,” team member KC Grant told us. “We were focusing on mobility first. We need to bring in people with particular expertise – we don’t know what would interest visually impaired people, or hearing impaired. So we’re going to bring in the people who do know, to make sure they get the experience they deserve.
“Part of our business model is actually providing stickers to businesses to incentivise them. The logo would go in the windows or on doors, to show businesses are highly accessible, and these would be advertised on our app.”
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