I had a fantastic time helping to judge the Imagine Cup 2011 US Software Design category in Redmond last week. I’ve already written about the winner in that category, Note-Taker. The runner up is definitely no slouch. The work this team is doing is very important and can help save a countless number of lives.
Lifelens is introducing something truly innovative: a point-of-care tool which will diagnose Malaria using a mobile phone application. This project addresses the high child mortality rates which are caused by the lack of detection and available early treatment. The solution has a huge potential to reduce the high costs of diagnosis and treatment of Malaria. This will allow more children around the world to be treated under the amount of funding that is available already.
As of right now, you have to go through a long process in order to diagnose Malaria, including looking at samples under a microscope. With Lifelens, that process is much faster with a scanning algorithm. The app is able to count cells and find out everything going on very quickly. Millions of people die from Malaria every year, and this project may cut that number down drastically. They’re taking technology which is old and slow, putting it literally into people’s hands and then save a lot of lives.
The software scans and detects how many infected cells there are. The person can then upload the data to the Cloud and geo-locate exactly where the sample was taken. Doctors and scientists can use the data to hopefully begin to help predicting patterns and ways to prevent an outbreak.
The team also has plans to be able to detect other blood-borne viruses and diseases in general, such as Anemia and Sickle-Cell Disease. Talk about life-changing technology! Kudos to this team of talented young people.
Many people may not know this, but Macular Degeneration runs in my family. My grandmother had it and my mom has it, as well. The chances of me developing it in the future are very high. I take it very seriously when I see a piece of technology come along which can aid those people who cannot see as well as others.
One of the student teams that I was judging at the Imagine Cup is responsible for US winning software design entry Note-Taker.
Fewer than 40% of low-vision adults participate in our work force, and this team feels that lack of educational tools contributes to that. They are passionate about helping these students achieve their goals by giving them a tool to help them succeed. Using someone else’s notes – even those taken down by a mentor or student helper – doesn’t always work. Being able to take down notes from a lecture on their own is paramount to helping students absorb and understand the material.
Note-Taker combines an integrated software solution for Microsoft OneNote with a user-controlled camera to provide low-sight individuals with the ability to take notes in class more effectively. The camera allows the user to zoom in on specific sections of the front of the class, back up in time to review, and generally have better access to all the same visual experiences people with unimpaired vision.
The Imagine Cup encourages teams to compete in one of the 8 areas identified as part of the Millennium Development Goals, which were agreed upon by 189 nations around the world more than nine years ago. They encompass universally accepted human rights such as freedom from hunger, the right to basic education, the right to health, and a responsibility to future generations. Now, less than four years from the date of 2015 by which the Millennium Development Goals are to be achieved, it’s time we made a difference.