Last week I was honored to attend Microsoft’s YouthSpark Imagine Cup World Finals in Seattle, Washington. Thank you so much to Microsoft for providing me this chance and providing for my expenses. These teens and young adults competing in the Imagine Cup just blew me away with their innovation, imagination, creativity, and dedication. Even though I did not know any of them I still felt like a proud mom watching them all.

IC14 world finals stage
Photo Source: Imagine Cup on Flickr

Imagine Cup is an annual world competition that encourages students (16+) to come up with projects in the areas of world citizenship, innovation, and gaming. The competitions are held around the globe leading up to the World Finals event that I attended. This is where you are going to find the best and brightest in technology on our planet!

The 2014 Imagine Cup World Champion is Team Eyenaemia from Australia. Along with the $50,000 prize and trip to Microsoft YouthSpark Boot Camp, the team will also have a private meeting with Bill Gates!

I was able to speak with Jennifer Tang of Team Eyenaemia and learn firsthand about their project. It allows an app to determine if a person has anemia or not in a very easy and quick process. A person simply has to pull down the bottom of their eye to expose the conjunctiva and holds a card with colored squares on it near the eye as well. The colors on the card are known to the program and so once the photo is snapped the program can adjust for the amount of light to be consistent in the coloring of the conjunctiva. The photo is sent to the cloud and the hemoglobin count is calculated and the results are sent quickly back to the app. The results show a range and let the person know if they need to seek medical treatment.

IC14 team eyenaemia

This year marks the first time that the Imagine Cup World Finals were held in the USA and Seattle rolled out the red carpet for the global community. It was fascinating to watch everyone from around the world coming together and being so supportive of each other and excited about all these techy things.

Watching some of the actual presentations it was really interesting to see the differences in the teams. While all that I saw spoke English, you could tell it was not their first language. The different mannerisms and words used were unique to each team. In the common areas the kids all seemed to get along together wonderfully and were genuinely excited to be there and meeting other like minded people from around the world.

imgine cup at MOHAI
Photo source: Imagine Cup on Flickr

There were tons of activities planned for the teams outside of the competition itself. They were able to be in a showcase so everyone could talk to them and ask questions and see their project. They had a geocaching scavenger hunt. On Saturday the entire city of Seattle was invited to MOHAI to meet the teams and see their projects as well.


Games Category:
First Place, $50,000 prize and PAX Boot Camp: Team Brainy Studio, Russia, Project: TurnOn
Second Place, $10,000 prize: Team Bomon, Korea, Project: Under Bed
Third Place, $5,000 prize: Team Illogic, Egypt, Project: Puppy in Bubble

Innovation Category:
First Place, $50,000 prize and Microsoft Ventures Boot Camp: Team Estimeet, New Zealand, Project: Estimeet
Second Place, $10,000 prize: Team Tep, Hungary, Project: Tep
Third Place, $5,000 prize: Team Butterfly, Bahrain, Project: Nail Polish Mixer

World Citizenship Category:
First Place, $50,000 prize and Microsoft YouthSpark Boot Camp: Team Eyenaemia, Australia, Project: Eyenaemia
Second Place, $10,000 prize: Team SMART crew, Taiwan, Project: Versatility of Usens: From Lab to Life
Third Place, $5,000 prize: Team Access Earth, Ireland, Project: Access Earth

Over the next week or two I will be sharing more about some of the other teams I was able to see the presentations of and those I actually was able to meet. I was truly impressed with all of them!

I mentioned that Imagine Cup is a YouthSpark project. YouthSpark is the part of Microsoft that handles all of the projects and activities surrounding young people. There are amazing opportunities for kids available through YouthSpark and I encourage you to visit YouthSparkHub to learn more about them and for your kids to explore and see what interests them as well.