Imagine Cup, Microsoft’s premier student technology competition, has once again drawn the attention of young and aspiring tech enthusiasts from all over the world. In the Philippines, student-teams from universities across the country joined for a chance to distinguish themselves as national awardees, and a chance to represent the country in the competition’s world finals. Microsoft recently concluded the Philippine leg of the competition, with teams from National University (NU), Central Philippine University and Technological Institute of the Philippines-Quezon City chosen for their innovative use of technology to address real-world problems.
After months of development and mentoring, seven country finalists—from an initial field of 70 teams composed of nearly 300 students—pitched their ideas to a panel of judges from Crayon Philippines, QBO Innovation Hub, Hacktiv Collab Inc, and Microsoft Philippines. The country finalists competed for prizes, recognition, and the opportunity to represent the Philippines in the Imagine Cup World Finals. Their technology solutions were judged on their innovative use of Microsoft Azure technology, accessibility, and inclusion, as well as feasibility as a business idea.
“We believe that any student can be an entrepreneur and an innovator that drives positive change in the world,” said Clarissa Segismundo, Microsoft Philippines Education Programs Head. “Through the Imagine Cup, we are empowering students to make an impact by supporting them through immersive training and mentorship, as well as providing them with Microsoft tools to help turn their ideas into a reality.”
Finishing first runner-up was Team SL2P from Central Philippine University. Team SL2P introduced Illuminate, a solution that extends the capabilities of a projector, turning it into a better learning tool for dyslexic children. Illuminate uses Microsoft Azure’s machine learning to innovate the strengths and flexibility of a projector, with built-in activities and exercises that are specifically designed for students with dysgraphia and spatial dyslexia. By providing students with these solutions, Team SL2P aims to help them improve their learning ability and succeed with their studies.
Technological Institute of the Philippines – Quezon City’s Team PNC was second runner-up for their app Exerbit. The app—which utilizes Microsoft Azure’s mobile and web app services, machine learning, data analytics, and database—helps users maintain a healthy lifestyle by making exercising an exciting experience. According to Team PNC, Exerbit’s features are designed to adopt a practical framework in habit building, thus ensuring the user to become more consistent in their fitness and wellness journey.
The highest distinction went to Team REACH from the National University – Laguna after presenting EyeKlik, an innovative eye-tracking solution that acts as a substitute for a computer mouse and keyboard. Utilizing Microsoft Azure technology such as its cognitive functions and AI services, EyeKlik was made specifically for persons with disabilities, who may find it difficult to keep up and live with fast-paced technological advancements that are typically designed for people who are not disabled.
“Technology and gadgets are advancing rapidly. However, there is a digital divide between people with and without disabilities,” said Abigail Velasco of Team REACH, who cites laptops and personal computers as a prime example. “One cannot control their computer if they do not have access to a mouse, touchpad, or keyboard—which may pose as a challenge for those who do not have a complete set of fingers or a pair of hands. In the future, we hope more tech companies will actively work towards bridging this divide by improving the accessibility of their solutions.”
As national champions of the Philippines, Team REACH joins 47 other teams from across the globe, wherein they will pitch to a panel of industry expert judges in a bracket-style competition format. Students will showcase why their solution should make it to the World Championship based on how they tackled a local or global issue, their utilization of Microsoft Azure technology, their commitment to accessibility and inclusivity, their commercial viability of their business concept, and the potential for their project to drive impact. The World Champion will take home the grand prize of USD100,000 and a mentoring session with Microsoft Chairman and CEO, Satya Nadella.
“Every year, Imagine Cup brings forth incredible innovation from our participants here in the Philippines and it’s so inspiring to witness. Filipino teams are mainstays in Microsoft’s global student competitions across all levels and more than anything, that underlines the enormous potential our country has to empower tomorrow for both ourselves and the world as a whole,” said Peter Maquera, Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft Philippines. “We congratulate all our participants this year, especially Team REACH and wish them the best of luck as they compete on the global stage of the competition!”
Follow Team REACH’s journey and learn more about Microsoft’s Imagine Cup here.