Developing real-world solutions

Thai teams will compete for a spot in the world finals of Microsoft’s Imagine Cup

Mobile applications are now associated with people’s daily life and their popularity is not limited to the camps of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. The Windows Phone from Microsoft is now offering users a larger variety of apps in a bid to catch up with its rivals. The number of apps at Windows Store is on the rise, boosted in part, at least locally, by Imagine Cup Thailand 2014, the national round of the world’s student technology competition.

We Heart.

The Imagine Cup serves as a platform for students around the world to showcase their vision and technical expertise through the development of applications with the potential to have an impact on real-world issues. Since its debut in 2003, the Cup has seen more than 1.65 million competing students from 190 countries.

Three teams of talented Thai student developers are winners of the competition in the three categories: World Citizenship, Games and Innovation.

The We Heart app, by King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) and Chulalongkorn University students, won the World Citizenship category. It was conceived as a network for HIV patients, including those who want to motivate and inspire patients by sending love and encouragement, to combat the stigma of the illness.

Team member Apisara Sriphon said the app also serves as a tool to help users who are living with HIV by reminding them to take their medicine on time.

Along with the mobile app, WeHeart.com serves as a place for people to share their life experiences and inspire and empower those living with facing HIV/Aids. The website also provides information about HIV/Aids, as well as local clinics that provide testing.

Apisara said the We Heart app also serves as a channel for organisations and medicine companies to work together. Additionally, the team uses Instagram, at #WeHeart, to promote the campaign with the help of celebrities.

The Ask Dom app, also by a KMUTT team, won the Innovation category. Ask Dom is the front end to a social network mining engine that utilises data from sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. The application offers public opinions on points of interest as well as information on special events and gatherings in the Bangkok area. Traffic information is also available on an in-app map.

Users ask the app a question. The app processes that question and produces a set of meaningful keywords that can be used in a back-end search. Users can also can perform a real-time search for information on traffic, events and incidents in Bangkok. A query can also be made based on user’s current geo-location.

Nareerat Saetiew, the Ask Dom team leader, said the application has been used by several agencies, including the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications, which used it to conduct a public survey about the telecom services. The Bank of Thailand also used to app to obtain feedback about its financial services.

A third KMUTT team was announced the winner of the Games category. Little Seed is a game app in which players plant virtual trees to reduce the effect of greenhouse gases on the environment. For every tree planted in-game, a real tree is planted, helping to replenish natural forests.

“Every tree successfully planted in the game will be planted in the real world. Players will be able to view it, as the game links to a website where the location of the planted tree is shown via GPS.

“Each player must plant five to 10 trees and will be able to see the growth rate of the real trees on the web,” said Soravis, noting that the game also encourages kids to appreciate the growing trees they plant and learn about the factors that affect forest growth. The team is now working with oil and gas company PTT Pcl, which supports tree-planting as a part of its corporate social responsibility initiative.

The three national winners will compete
with other countries to reach the world finals, held in Seattle, Washington in July, and maintain Thailand’s successful track record in the competition — now in its 12th year — with three world championship wins, more than any other country.

The winning teams will also gain access to the Microsoft BizSpark programme, which offers development tools, software licences and exclusive support and advice for tech start-ups in areas such as business operations, technical training and talent and funding acquisition — a package valued at 4 million baht. The three winners and two runners-up will also head to Singapore to experience cutting-edge, enterprise-class technologies in an exclusive tour of the Microsoft Technology Centre.

According to Microsoft (Thailand) managing director Haresh Khoobchandani, the Imagine Cup competition shows Microsoft’s commitment to transforming education around the world.

“Under the vision of ‘We Make 70 Million Lives Better’, we believe that the Imagine Cup can inspire and empower Thai youths to realise their exceptional potential, enabling them to thrive in a connected world through the development and use of 21st century skills.”

About the author

columnist
Writer: Sasiwimon Boonruang
Position: Life Writer