Microsoft’s YouthSpark Programme, a global initiative that aims to create opportunities for 300 million youth around the world, empowers young people to realise their full potential through various training programmes and experiences. One such programme is the Microsoft Imagine Cup, an annual competition that provides a platform for young technologists worldwide to solve pressing social issues. Over the past ten years, more than 1.65 million students from more than 190 countries have participated in Imagine Cup, and it remains one of the world’s largest software development competitions aimed at students.On 28 March, over 800 people showed up for the intense two-day Imagine Cup Korea Finals in the beautiful city of Busan, South Korea. This year, 20 teams comprising 95 students competed in the Korea Finals held at Dongseo University. The figure was whittled down to six teams on the first day, after which three teams, one for each competition category, were selected on the second and final day.Said to be the largest turnout for a competition, the audience witnessed the gruelling selection for the three teams, which each won a cash prize of US$1,000 and an opportunity to compete at the World Semi-finals to be held online in May.
“Technology can open doors for students to demonstrate their abilities to the world, and we’re thankful that Microsoft, a world-class tech giant, is here to provide students in South Korea with an opportunity to do so.” - Hur Nam-sik, Busan City Mayor
World Citizenship category winner: Team ImFact Team ImFact clinched the first prize with an innovative face recognition app “In Face”, created to help parents search for their missing children by analysing their features to produce potentially recognisable faces of the children. Thousands of children go missing each year in South Korea, and the team hopes the app will be useful to these desperate families. Motivated by the sight of refugees in Syria, the team hopes that the app can be adapted to assist refugees and others separated from their families, such as those separated during the Korean War.The Korean Association of Preventing Missing Children has acknowledged the app’s potential impact, and major companies have already approached the team to acquire the technology. Team member Eunsom Jeon, 24 years old, said, “We will show that Korean youth, with our IT skills, can help to solve global issues.”Games category: Team BomonThe Games category was topped by a puzzle platformer “Under Bed”. Simple yet entertaining, the game wowed the judges by transporting players into the adventures of a girl who shrank herself to search for her mother’s scattered pearl necklace.Innovation category: Team Pin the CloudTeam Pin the Cloud stood out from the rest with an information-sharing app “At Here”. Tapping on GPS technology, individuals can now share files with other people in close proximity regardless of the platform that they’re using.Impressed by the amount of creativity and intelligent solutions presented, Busan City Mayor Hur Nam-sik declared, “Technology can open doors for students to demonstrate their abilities to the world, and we’re thankful that Microsoft, a world-class tech giant, is here to provide students in South Korea with an opportunity to do so.”Congratulations to the winners, and all the best for the global semi-finals!