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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks to teams of student developers at the 2017 Imagine Cup. (GeekWire Photo / Nat Levy)

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has a message for 54 student teams from 39 countries that descended upon the company’s Redmond, Wash. campus this week for the 15th annual Imagine Cup competition: The future is yours, so think long and hard about how you want to spend your time.

Nadella said Microsoft was started by student developers, so it’s only fitting that the company works to nurture the next generation of young innovators. He noted that we live in a time where technology is changing everything, and these teams are at the forefront of that movement.

“In a time like this, where every walk of life in every society and every economy is being fundamentally changed and shaped by digital technology, developers like you are going to change the world,” Nadella said. “You’re going to bend that curve of progress.”

Because of that, Nadella implored these young developers to use their talents for good causes. Microsoft noted that 40 percent of the teams focused their projects on the medical field.

“You are very blessed,” Nadella told the crowd of developers. “You are in tech, you have the capability around computer science, in a time like this, when everything is being shaped by digital technology, so there’s only one thing you have to get right at this point because you have won the lottery already. Now the question is how do you spend the money? Spend it wisely.”

This year the stakes for the Imagine Cup, where teams create an original technology project from start to finish, are higher than they’ve ever been. This year, the top team will come away with a $100,000 cash prize, a $125,000 Azure grant and a mentoring session with Nadella. Second place takes home $25,000 and a $25,000 Azure grant, and the third place team will receive $15,000 and a $25,000 Azure grant.

Here is a look at the teams still in the field, including the eight semifinalists, as well as two wildcard teams. The final four teams will be announced later today:

  • GroupCram, University of Auckland, New Zealand: Web app designed to help students prepare for exams.
  • NeuroGate, University of Waterloo, Canada: Software that uses Microsoft Kinect motion data and machine learning to analyze gait patterns and diagnose neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Oculogx, Georgia Institute of Technology, United States: Mixed reality app that uses HoloLens and Azure to improve locating items in warehouses.
  • OsteoMentor, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece: OsteoMentor aims to support people with osteoporosis, providing a solution that utilizes state-of-the-art technologies.
  • Eranoi, Universidad Insurgentes, Instituto Tecnológico de Veracruz, Instituto Tecnológico de Culiacán, Mexico: Device that monitors the quality of the water using a set of sensors to measure the conductivity, temperature, purity level and more.
  • Nash, Instituto Tecnologico de Buenos Aires, Argentina: RESCUE is a platform to reduce response times in natural disasters using drones.
  • Opticode, Lyceum of the Philippines University-Laguna, Philippines: Minerva is a mobile virtual assistant app for the visually impaired.
  • X.GLU, Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech and Slovakia: Hardware and software solution designed to help diabetics better cope with their condition.
  • Evermind, Moscow State University, Russia: App that leverages the Microsoft Face API to prevent drunk drivers from operating their car.
  • Echo Innovators, Kantipur Engineering College, Nepal: Wearable device for livestock that monitors and uploads animals’ health data to Azure for analysis and to provide advice to owners.

UPDATE: Here are the finalists for this year’s Imagine Cup: NeuroGate, OcuLogx, Nash and X.GLU.

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