09 Mar 2015
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Microsoft's Imagine Cup unleashes student innovation

By Catherine Knowles

The technological innovations of New Zealand tertiary students will be on display tonight in Auckland at Microsoft’s 2015 Imagine Cup event.

The Imagine Cup is part of the inaugural Microsoft Student Accelerator (MSA) showcase and aims to recognise Kiwi students’ technological developments.

At Auckland University, more than 150 students will showcase the software and apps they developed during placements at leading Kiwi IT companies.

The event will be hosted by Dominic Bowden and will include the announcement of the winnders of the Imagine Cup competition.

The student-developed technology innovations range from travel apps to healthcare software to applications that provide help when you're in trouble.

Blurtee is a real time social mobile app for short term borrowing for students and Foresight is software that provides a system to detect and prevent poaching in conservation areas.

HEART Automated Life Saving Service (ALS) is a cloud-based service that monitors a patients’ heart activity and links it to their smart phone for better detection and faster response times.

PowerPuff records and assesses the breathing of asthmatics by monitoring peak expiratory flow (PEF) readings through a smartphone.

Lassie, the intelligent, private check-in service app, will help get you out of trouble by alerting your chosen friend in situations where you’re unable to call for help yourself. 

aFOODable is an app that acts as a hub between charities and people who want to donate to them, ROAM and Intouract connects travellers, and Tether connects job seekers and employeers with the help of social media for casual work.

Ryan Tarak, MSA leader, says the programme aims to solve the problem of universities struggling to place their tier two students into employment opportunities.

“We also have customers and partners that have an interest in Azure and Windows apps but didn’t know where to start or didn’t have the budget to get projects off the ground.

“Many also struggle to find talented students to hire into their intern programmes for future roles,” says Tarak.

He says the MSA programme aims to do three things, first, inspire students at high schools with programmes such as Microsoft IT Academy and the Week of Code.

Second, provide tertiary students with voluntary work placement where they can be mentored as they work on projects and develop apps and software for real world settings.

And third, encourage students to work on their own start-up idea through the Imagine Cup competition. 

Students who have previously participated in the Microsoft Student Accelerator programme include Hayden Do and Chris Duan, who went on to compete and win the Innovation category at the 2014 Microsoft Imagine Cup competition in the USA for their app, called Estimeet.

The next event on the Microsoft Student Accelerator schedule is the upcoming Week of Code event, to be run across the region from 23-29 March.

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