Four Electrical & Computer Engineering students of the University of Auckland were declared winners of the Microsoft Imagine Cup this year.
Leader Vinnay Jeet said the Group, called Team One Beep, qualified for $4000 cash award and an all expenses paid trip to Poland in July to compete in the world finals.
His other teammates are Steve Ward, Kayo Lakadia and Chanyeol Yoo.
The team designed software that will transmit educational data in audio mode through radio waves, received in AM and FM frequencies and then transferred on to a laptop. The file will be reconverted into the original form for use.
Vinnay said his team developed the software mainly to educate illiterate children in poor countries under the ‘One Laptop Per Child Programme’ (OLPC).
“We considered world problems such as hunger and poverty, but concluded that Education is the foundation to all the other solutions and therefore decided to create the software for OLPC. Our technology aims to enable children in the developing world to have better access to educational materials,” he said.
More than 100 teams participated in the Microsoft Imagine Cup in New Zealand.
The competition is stated to the largest of its type in the world, attracting more than 300,000 students from 142 countries, developing solutions for various problems.
The theme for this year is, “Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems.”
Former Prime Minister and WTO Director General Mike Moore said the concept of connecting the OLPC computers through radio waves is a game changer in terms of access to information.
“It can have profound impact in developing countries. I have already raised this concept with people at the World Bank and elsewhere who are very interested,” he said, congratulating the winning team.
Microsoft New Zealand Developer and Platform Group Director Scott Wylie said the concept of Team One Beep was outstanding.
“Their project was the most well-developed, reasoned and emblematic of our theme, based on the UN Millennium Development Goal of solving the world’s toughest problems with technology.”
Vinnay said the Group had established a company to take their concept to the countries of the South Pacific.
“We have started discussions for OLPC deployment into 5000 laptops,” he said.
Photo: Vinnay Jeet (second right) with Chanyeol Yoo, Kayo Lakadia and Steve Ward.