A team of students from Ukraine were the big winners this week at the Imagine Cup, a showcase sponsored by Microsoft for student-designed innovations that are meant to "unleash the power of technology to benefit their community or, perhaps, the entire planet."
The Ukrainian team, called quadSquad, won first place in the Software Design category for Enable Talk, a concept that allows a deaf person to communicate verbally using a smartphone application and gloves equipped with 15 sensors that translate sign language into real-time speech.
The quadSquad took home $25,000 for their first-place showing.
As Microsoft notes
In 2004, more than 275 million people globally had moderate to profound hearing impairment, 80 percent of them in low- and middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organization's most recent data.
“We were inspired to help our friends who are hearing- and speech-impaired to have the ability to communicate like everyone else,” said Maxim Osika, Team quadSquad. “The Imagine Cup is an amazing experience; we’re thrilled to be here learning from the experts around us.”
A Japanese team took second place, while a team from Portugal came in third.
Prizes worth $175,000 were awarded across eight categories, including game design and mobile. The winners in each category are now eligible to apply for three-year, $3 million investment grants from Microsoft to help turn their ideas into reality.
More than 350 students from 75 countries competed in the 10th annual competition, which was held this year in Sydney.
Next year's event will be held in St. Petersburg.