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Microsoft names first Imagine Cup winners

Four teams selected for $75k grants in competition to solve global problems with technology

Four international teams have been selected as winners of the inaugural Imagine Cup - a competition run by Microsoft to find technological solutions to global problems.

Microsoft began the scheme this year with the goal of finding innovative and cost-effective solutions to issues as wide ranging as world hunger, disease and care for the needy and disadvantaged.

The United Nations list of Millennium Goals was suggested as a good place for contestants to find inspiration for good causes, although their inclusion was not mandatory.

Winners, each receiving a $75,000 grant, publisher support, cloud computing and premium software access and introduction to Microsoft's developer support network contacts.

"The Imagine Cup Grants program showcases young people's ingenuity, entrepreneurial passion and real potential to solve tough real-world problems," said Microsoft's Brad Smith.

"Today's young people will become tomorrow's entrepreneurs, leaders and innovators and will build a better future for all of us if we give them the right opportunities."

Winners of this year's prizes were Croatian team Apptender, Ecudaor's Team Falcon, OaSys, a team from Jordan and Team LifeLens from the US.

Apptender developed a program which can help guide children with physical disabilities through a series of therapeutic exercises, feeding back data to nursing staff about progress using Kinect, whilst Team Falcon have created a program to convert spoken word into sign language, intended for use in schools by hearing impaired children.

OaSys' project uses Kinect to translate head movements into mouse gestures and keyboard strokes, allowing the severely physically disabled to control a computer without the use of their limbs. Finally, Team LifeLens tackled the problem of malaria by creating an augmented Windows Phone 7 app which will help with the diagnosis of the disease.

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