Teams from Thailand, Romania and Greece were named world champions in the 2016 Microsoft Imagine Cup Thursday. The winners in the three categories — games, innovation and world citizenship — will face off tomorrow for the top prize, a mentoring session with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
Nadella shared some advice with all 35 Imagine Cup finalists during an awards ceremony Thursday. He implored the teams to think about their passions, what keeps them up at night.
“Imagine the future but connect that future you imagine to your core passion, because that’s what’s going to make you successful,” he said.
Here’s a look at the winning teams, each of whom received a $50,000 check from Nadella:
- PH21, a team of students from studying computer engineering at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand took home the prize in the games category. Their puzzle-based game, Timelie, centers around a woman who steals a device that can see into the future, and a young girl whose ability to manipulate time was used to create the device. Players can manipulate time to figure out the answers to puzzles that will allow them to escape with the device.
- Three Romanian computer scientists won the innovation category. ENTy is a wearable device that tracks inner ear balance and spinal posture and tell users if they are having balance or posture issues. The team has worked with doctors to test the product on more than 500 patients.
- Team AMANDA, engineering students from Aristotle University of Thessaloníki in Greece, won in the world citizenship category. Their project uses an ICT approach to identify characteristics that might make someone a bully and give psychologists tools to intervene.
This year’s finalists were whittled down from more than 150 teams that that advanced from national finals events. The final round will be at Garfield High School and will feature special guest judges John Boyega, who played Finn in Stars Wars: The Force Awakens, and Dr. Jennifer Tang, one half of 2014 Imagine Cup Champion, Team Eyenaemia. The event starts at 9 a.m. Pacific and it can be streamed online.
Nadella told everyone the teams they have a chance to change the world using “the most malleable of resources, which is digital technology.” Nadella said the democratizing effect of technology allowed him to come as far as he has, and now he wants things like Imagine Cup to open up more opportunities around the world.
“In a world like this where digital technology is having an impact in every walk of life, in every country, you are the ones who are going to help us everywhere move our economies, move our societies, and then also make sure the dividends we create out of digital technology is actually more evenly spread in the world.