Sunday September 11, 2005
Imagining a better world
Perseverance and determination paid off for four Multimedia University students when they qualified for the Imagine Cup Finals in Yokohama, Japan, recently, after beating more than 1,900 others at the national-level competition, reports V.CHANDRASEKARAN.
FOUR Malaysian software engineering students recently came up with an idea to create a software programme to help people manage their daily lives.
Saw Kee Leng, Ooi Wen Fong, Tan Boon Siang and Chuah Shang Jun, all 23, did research for three months.
Their perseverance and determination paid off when they represented Malaysia at the Imagine Cup competition organised by Microsoft Corporation which was held in Yokohama, Japan.
To make it to the international finals was a big achievement. The students competed against 1,935 others at the national-level Imagine Cup Finals.
Their invention is a hand-held Object Identification Information Network (Odin) application device using radio frequency identification (RFID) to solve practical problems.
For example, if someone with an RFID hand-held device and mobile data and Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) capability approaches an advertising poster fitted with an RFID tag, he or she will be able to view a trailer, read reviews, and buy cinema tickets.
A total of 37 teams from six continents took part in the competition in Yokohama, which saw the team from Russia bagging the first prize of RM92,500 (US$25,000) to become the Imagine Cup 2005 World Champions.
The Russian team had created a software programme which could connect and bring together music lovers from all over the world.
Saw said of the competition: “It was an eye-opening experience.”
Fellow team members Ooi and Tan felt that they should have put in more effort in brushing up their presentation skills.
“Our lack of presentation skills cost us marks. We needed to convince
Tan said he would share his experience with students competing next year so that they would have a better chance of doing well.
The Russian winners, Stanislav Vonog from Ukraine, Nikolay Surin (Volgograd), Alexander Popov (Moscow) and Ruslan Gilfanov (Kazan), received a standing ovation.
They demonstrated how technology could unite musicians across geographical and cultural boundaries by performing live onstage with team members in remote locations.
Their project, called OmniMusic, enables musicians to join a community, find other musicians with complementary skills and interests, perform live and share in real time performance. With their software innovation, musicians will be able to plug their instruments into a computer or a mobile device and be connected to musicians all over the world.
OmniMusic enables musicians to stay in synchronicity while performing from different locations. It makes it possible for people in different locations to get connected via computers and give a live band performance.
“It was a tough competition as the other five teams were equally good,” said Ruslan Gilfanov, a 21-year-old student at Lomonosov Moscow State University.
“No matter how far you are from each other, you can see the video pictures of all your band members, talk to each other and play together with high quality sound. You can organise your digital concert and a lot of Internet users can see you,” said Gilfanov.
Alexander, 19, from Lomonosov Moscow State University, said the team members were from two different universities and got to know each other through the Internet, adding that they all had a common interest in music and started meeting more often and came up with the idea of creating the OmniMusic concept.
“When we go back, we will get more feedback from the musicians and find how our concept can be used on a larger scale,” he said.
Asked what they would do with the prize money, Surin said: “We plan to use it to develop OmniMusic further and realise our dream of a collaborative online music community.”
The team from Greece comprising Anastastios Valsamidis, Fani Tzima, Vasiliki Kosmidou and Aikaterini Dikaiou took second place and received US$15,000 (RM65,500). The team presented a “Sign2Talk” software programme which translates American Sign Language into speech and vice-versa.
“Although we only settled for second place, coming to the finals in Japan itself was a great experience,” said one of the team members.
The Chinese team, comprising Niu Jianxin, Liu Xue, Feng Tao and Xiao Xueying from Beijing University of Technology took third place. The team designed a “Fego” software programme using the Internet to connect and provide information to community members.
As judge and development manager of Autumn Care Systems of Western Australia, Nick Randoph said: “We had a tough time choosing the best as all were equally good and innovative.”