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July 8, 2011 at 9:27 AM

Student programmers compete at Microsoft Imagine Cup finals in NY

Imagine Cup 2011 Steve Ballmer.jpgMicrosoft kicks off the final round of Imagine Cup, its annual global student programming competition in New York Friday.

The company is flying 400 college and high school students representing 124 teams from 70 countries to compete in the worldwide competition in New York. Chief Executive Steve Ballmer will give the opening ceremony speech Friday.

Winners in categories such as software design, game design and mobile apps will be announced on July 13 at Lincoln Center and students will win a total of $215,000 in prize money. The first place team in the software design category will win $25,000.

In all, Microsoft will award a total of $215,000 in prize money.

The annual competition lasts several months, with students registering online, then competing in national finals before advancing to the New York event Friday. The final round in 2010 was held in Poland; in 2009, it was held in Egypt.

You can also vote on the People’s Choice award winners on each of the teams’ video pages. Voting closes Tuesday at 2 p.m.

Here are some interesting projects from three of the finalists:

Stroke rehabilitation with Kinect. A team of Singaporean students developed rehabilitation software for stroke victims with a Kinect motion sensor that runs on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform. They got the idea from a team member whose grandmother suffered a stroke and died because she could not afford the rehab treatment, Microsoft said. The team’s video is also pretty entertaining to boot. Here is team Elderguardian’s video.

Remote-controlled drone to locate disaster survivors. Team Freakin’ Mind from Colombia built software to locate survivors after a natural disaster using a remote-controlled drone equipped with a camera. The drone can be controlled by a laptop, desktop computer or a Windows Phone. Because the drone is flown remotely, it can be used to locate survivors in difficult terrain. Here is team Freakin’ Mind’s video.

Mobile game to monitor kids with asthma. Team Dragon from Rice University built a Windows Phone game for kids with asthma to monitor their breathing capacity. Doctors can check the results remotely and decide whether the kids need to come in for treatment. Here is team Dragon’s video.

(Photo by Jason DeCrow/Microsoft: Wicked Team members Martin Wilczak, left, and Michal Zacharias, right, both of Czech Republic, give Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer a demo of their new game “Firefighters: Whatever It Takes” during the Microsoft Imagine Cup, Friday, July 8, 2011 in New York.)

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