What did you do this morning? Eat some Grape-Nuts? Grind some coffee? Maybe you almost fell asleep taking the bus to work. If so, you definitely weren’t in Australia, taking part in the 10th annual Imagine Cup. This year’s top prize ($25,000 ) went to a team from the Ukraine for inventing gloves that can translate sign language to speech. Throw that in your Grape-Nuts and chew on it.
Using gloves fitted with flex sensors, touch sensors, gyroscopes and accelerometers (as well as some solar cells to increase battery life) theEnableTalk team has built a system that can translate sign language into text and then into spoken words using a text-to-speech engine. The whole system then connects to a smartphone over Bluetooth.
A team from Japan came in second place for coming up with smarter lamps that use less energy by detecting when their lights can be dimmed. Third place went to a Portuguese team for its Kinect-enabled shopping cart that follows a user through a store.
Microsoft sponsors the annual event, and during the awards announcements, told all the finalists that they would each be receiving a Windows 8 machine as soon as they are made available (probably sometime in October).