For the second year running, Auckland University's Team OneBuzz impressed judges at the worldwide finals of the Microsoft Imagine Cup competition as one of the top six finalists.
Vinny Lohan, Steven Kang, Edward Peek and Kayo Lakadia made up the Kiwi contingent at the awards ceremony at the Lincoln Centre in New York City early today.
Despite high hopes for their prospects from the crowds, the Kiwi quartet were pipped by Ireland’s Team Hermes, who won the Software Design category and US$25,000 with a project that combined embedded technology, mobile devices and cloud computing to change driving habits and reduce road deaths. The Irish team developed a smart device that can plug into any car made after 2000, and uploads driving information to the cloud and gives the driver a report on their behaviour.
US team Note-Taker, seen as one of OneBuzz's main rivals, took out second place. Its design was a digital note-taking solution for the visually impaired.
The Kiwi group's project offered a unique way of combating malaria through a system that sends updates to concerned parties within days rather than months, meaning aid can be dispatched to designated regions quickly and efficiently.
“We are all on such a high. The entire trip has been a blast and we’re delighted to make it this far, especially as it is for the second year in a row!” says team leader Vinny Lohan.
“When you put this much into a competition you want to go as far as you can, and our goal was always to come and win in New York. The most exciting thing has been the recognition our project will gain that will allow us to make a difference in peoples’ lives.”
The team hopes to continue developing its project back in New Zealand.
As Team OneBeep last year, they placed third overall in Poland with their solution to send educational content to laptops in remote regions in impoverished schools and communities around the world.
Because of their success in developing this project further, Vinny was involved in an interview with Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft Corp on CNN this week.
“It is phenomenal watching this team of young Kiwi innovators take on
the world with such success—we are so proud of them,” says Scott Wylie
of Microsoft New Zealand, who was on the ground with them in New York.
“They are fantastic global representatives and have once again proven themselves to be role models for the future of IT. The competition in New York was tougher than in previous years, and it is great to see New Zealand developing cutting-edge technology solutions that will make a difference.”
More than 400 students from 70 countries took part in this year’s Imagine Cup.
Now in its ninth year, the theme of the competition is to use technology to solve the world’s toughest challenges.
See the full list of winners here.