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  • Cheryl Tan

Accessibility & Healthcare Innovations Take Centre Stage At Microsoft’s 2020 Imagine Cup

Updated: Aug 19, 2021

Credit: Microsoft

Now in its 18th year, the Asia Regional finals for Microsoft’s 2020 Imagine Cup competition has just wrapped up with the two winners, Team Nutone from Japan and Team Hollo from Hong Kong, being selected to proceed on to the Imagine Cup World Championship finals in Seattle.

It’s definitely been a year of firsts for Microsoft’s Imagine Cup competition. With a new “Accessibility, Diversity and Inclusion” judging criteria taking up 20% of the total score, teams have had to ensure that their projects considered and addressed the needs of all users with regards to gender, ethnicity, disability segment or other diverse characteristics.

More than that, this is the first time that the Imagine Cup competition has gone completely virtual, due to the global health concerns. The top 10 teams each went through a three minute pitch through a conference call on Microsoft Teams on Microsoft’s Surface Hub 2S, which allowed the judges to sit in and ask questions about the innovations.

The 10 teams from Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal and China, had to come up with innovations fitting the competition’s theme of “social good and making a difference to local communities” using Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, Azure.

Credit: Microsoft

Team Nutone won one of the two World Finalist spots with their innovation, an assistive device that can be worn around the neck and restores the ability to speak for patients who have lost their voice through reasons such as a laryngectomy. This works by vibrating the user’s throat to create sound that matches the movement of the user’s mouth. Neural networks are also used to learn the lost voice characteristics and restore it.

The second winner is Team Hollo, who developed a healthcare tool for NGOs, therapists and youth living with mental illnesses to help advance therapy practices by using big data and AI. It essentially puts a mental health companion and therapist onto a single platform for easy access. By integrating an AI chatbot onto the platform, Hollo introduces and gets youth accustomed to therapy and counselling sessions without fear of judgement.

There are also three runner-ups, with the first being Team Zest from Singapore. Team Zest invented a healthcare mobile application which provides real-time physiotherapy supervision through computer vision. Users can check which physiotherapy exercises have been assigned to them, follow instructions on how to accurately do the exercises and receive feedback while completing the exercises.

Team Blume from India came up with an application that’s also to aid the healthcare sector. Their app, Seguro Droga, allows users to scan a drug’s RFID card to determine authenticity through Azure VM’s Hyperledger Fabric, manage purchases and set filters for any allergens in the medication.

Last but not least, Team Tulibot from Indonesia snagged the final runner-up spot with their integrated assistive device, Tulibot, that bridges the communication gap for the hearing-impaired by using a smart glove that translates gestures into text, and smart glasses which translates speech into text.

Credit: Microsoft

Our team was on-site, so stay tuned for our video roundup of how the event went!

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