Creating a New Technology

7/17/2012


Innovation can be spurred in a variety of ways. Oftentimes, innovative and education go hand-in-hand, and some of our most important technologies have evolved from research being done at universities. Giving students a chance to show off their skills through competitions can be a great way to bring new technologies to light while also helping them advance their careers.

This was the case at the M2M Hackathon held during the 2012 Connected World Conference. Student “hackers” went to work building a killer M2M (machine-to-machine) app, creating something new for the technology ecosystem. To learn more about the type of app they created, along with the stories of many of the Hackathon participants, check out the September/October issue of Connected World magazine.

Another recent competition also helped encourage innovation. Microsoft, www.microsoft.com, announced the winners of its 10th annual Imagine Cup, a contest where students showcase technology creations that address global issues. In the Software Design category, the winning team developed a novel use of sensing technology that uses connectivity to improve people’s lives.


The Ukranian Team quadSquad integrated sensors into gloves to help hearing-impaired people by translating sign language into speech. Called Enable Talk, the gloves allow deaf people to verbally communicate. The sensory gloves communicate with a smartphone application to turn motion into speech. Gloves are equipped with 15 flex sensors that detect motion. Combined with a microcontroller, the sensors recognize sign-language patterns, which are then transmitted via Bluetooth to a Windows device that uses the Microsoft Speech API (application programming interface) and Bing API to translate the signs into audio.

Team quadSquad won $25,000 in the Imagine Cup, and Microsoft says all finalists are eligible to apply for Imagine Cup grants, which are three-year, $3 million investments by Microsoft to help students realize their ideas.

Could an idea like Enable Talk actually come to market? Competitions like Imagine Cup make it more likely that innovations will see the light of day, along with inspiring students to let their creativity come to life.





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