Kiwi students place third in global technology competition

Up against 300,000 competitors from 100 countries

An Auckland University team of engineering students has placed third in the global finals of the 2010 Microsoft Imagine Cup.

The Imagine Cup is the world’s premier student technology competition. More than 300,000 students from more than 100 countries entered this year. The theme of the competition is to use technology to solve the world’s most pressing problems.

Vinny Kumar, Chanyeol Yoo, Kayo Lakadia and Steve Ward of Team One Beep achieved the highest placing for a New Zealand team in the history of the competition when they were announced as the third place winners of the software design category at the Warsaw Opera House.

Team One Beep’s entry, inspired by the One Laptop Per Child programme, was an inexpensive way to solve the problem of sending educational content to laptops in impoverished areas of the world where there is no internet and often no phone lines.

The solution involves using Team OneBeep's software to package a file of educational data as audio to be sent via radio waves. This can be received on any cheap AM/FM radio and is then passed on to the laptops. The file is then converted back to its original form ready to be viewed by the children and teachers.

“The whole team is on a high,” says Vinny Kumar, team leader for Team OneBeep. “When you put this much into a competition, you always dream of getting this far but even when it actually happens it never feels real. The most exciting thing though is that the recognition our project will gain will help us make a bigger difference in people’s lives.”

The team hopes to continue to develop the software and bring it to market, working with Oxfam, OLPC and governments around the world to take the software to countries around the globe.

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