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Test Your Skills in the Microsoft Imagine Cup

October 14, 2020

When you hear the word "science", you think of chemicals, explosions, and gravity. But science is so much more than that. Science is so much broader, yet so much more specific. While science does cover chemicals, explosions, and gravity, there's also health, psychiatry, space exploration, life, and technology. Within every single facet of science, there are thousands and thousands of different details, formulas, and theorems to learn. If you really took the time to learn everything there is to know about science, you would know so much more than most people would ever learn in their entire lifetime. If you learn enough, you can participate in competitions, in tournaments, like this one. Who knows? Maybe you'll even win!

Microsoft Imagine Cup

The Microsoft Imagine Cup is just what it sounds like - a big competition requiring technical skills and imagination skills. Contestants will use their creativity, passion, and programming skills to change the world as we know it using Microsoft Azure. If they win, Microsoft will develop, test, and transform their ideas into real applications.

The Imagine Cup, known as the "Technology Olympics", is a global competition and open to all students over the age of 16. This year, the Imagine Cup World Finals were online for the first time ever due to the global pandemic. But for all competitors, the tantalizing first-place prize remained the same: $100,000 in cash, $50,000 in Azure Credits, and an online mentoring session with Microsoft's CEO, Satya Nadella. Woah.

This year's judges for the final round include Brad Smith (President of Microsoft), Dwana Franklin-Davis (CEO of Reboot Representation), and the CyberCode Twins, American and Penelope Lopez (creators of Beacons of Hope).

While a significant part of the Imagine Cup is focused on technology and software engineering, teams also need to learn how to found and grow their own business. They will be tested on their public speaking and video production skills, as well as the ability to provide day-to-day research. This style also serves as an effective mechanism against cheating.

The Imagine Cup was not created to brighten your college application, although previous winners have been offered spots at top universities and companies around the world. Instead, it was created to nurture and encourage the entrepreneurial spirit in young people and provide opportunities to learn how to plan a project and present it to high-profile professionals. If you choose to participate, you'll need to pitch your project to someone who will help you turn your vision into an official business plan. They will invest real money into your project, and the final winner will continue working on their product after the championship. It's not just a small project that you abandon once you're done.

Say Hello to the 2020 Teams!

Team Hollo

Cameron van Breda and Piyush Jha created Hollo, a tool measure and diagnose mental health.
"Mental health is a really significant problem faced by society around the world, affecting so many, especially in 2020."

- Team Hollo

This year, Team Hollo from Hong Kong emerged as the world champions in Microsoft's Imagine Cup. Hollo is an AI platform used to improve mental health by evaluating traits like sleep quality, heart rate, stress, and social media use. Since Hollo doesn't require any additional technology, it is easily affordable and can be used by underprivileged communities.

The Knights

Michael Mwaisakenyi and Kenneth Gichira, created a weeding robot that can reduce the use of harmful herbicides.

The Knights, another finalist from Kenya, developed a weeding robot that utilizes AI, a camera, a robotic arm, and a weeding tool similar to a plow knife. Originally created for a local farm, the robot can walk around, identify, and remove growing weeds. With this technology and mindset, farmers can reduce the use of harmful herbicides. The Knights are grounded in local conditions, local problem solving, and a concern for the environment - exactly what the Imagine Cup believes in.


Hu Yao-Chieh (Jeff) and Ting-Ting Lee (Tina) developed TuringCerts, used to securely track records in the education industry.

Using blockchain technology (a secure method of recording information, used for Bitcoin), TuringCerts provides a reliable way to track records in the educational industry. TuringCerts is utilized by several companies, from SelfToken to to casinos in Russia, Macau, and China. But Jeff and Tina are interested in more than just the money - They have done a tremendous amount of research and have been recognized by Binance Lab, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges.

Syrinx (Formerly NUTONE)

Masaki Takeuchi and Jaesol Ahn created Syrinx (previously NUTONE) so people who lost their voice box for medical reasons can speak again.

Every year, over 300 thousand people lose the ability to speak. Most begin using an electrolarynx, a small hand-held device that is pressed against the throat and vibrates to allow speech. However, the electrolarynx has its downsides: it can only produce a robotic voice and must be held by the user, taking up one of their hands. Inspired by hill mynas, a type of talking birds, Syrinx has two voice boxes and utilizes Azure to produce vibrations that sound like the human voice. Syrinx, worn around the neck, can even sound like the user by running sample sentences from the user onto Azure Virtual Machine and machine learning (GMM).

The Tremor Vision

Drew Gallardo, Janae Chan, and Robert Minneker, from the University of Washington, created Tremor Vision, a tool used to detect Parkinson's disease

Tremor Vision is a web-based tool that allows physicians to detect early symptoms of Parkinson's disease and track a patient's progress as well as develop a treatment plan. Using a touchscreen device, users can send clinical results to their physicians whenever they want, saving time and money. Since the average life expectancy is increasing, more people are becoming vulnerable to brain diseases as they age. Brain diseases have been a long-standing concern and major investment of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (owned by Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft).

How do I participate in the Microsoft Imagine Cup?

  1. All students at least 16 years old are encouraged to participate, with a maximum of 3 team members.

  2. The teams that advance through the final rounds in each country will compete in the regional (Asia, Europe, Americas) finals. The top two finalists in each region will receive $8,000 and advance to the global finals.

  3. Register at

You will need:

  1. A project plan (Microsoft Word or PDF document with no more than 10 pages, or a PowerPoint presentation with no more than 20 slides). You need your team and project's history clearly described (who are your team members? What is the project? Who is it for? How will you promote the program?)

  2. A presentation video. Contestants need to prepare a 3 minute presentation and demo video in a format similar to a live presentation.

  3. Software (available for the judges to test and use) and software instructions (software installation and usage instructions).

By the way, for the Imagine Cup, you will have to prove that you are indeed a student. There are 5 ways to do this:

  1. Use the school's email address

  2. School login with Shibboleth

  3. International Student Identity Card

  4. Microsoft Imagine Verification Code

  5. Upload your school enrollment document

That's it on the Imagine Cup. Make sure you check out our blogs on North American Math Competitions, part 1 and part 2!

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