April 25, 2017

First Lao team to compete at Microsoft’s Imagine Cup

By:  Vientiane Times, April 24, 2017

Vientiane - Team BUG5, a group of three young innovators, has earned the nomination to represent Laos in the South East Asian Regional Final Round of the 15th Microsoft’s Imagine Cup.

The competition is Microsoft’s global accelerator programme to empower the next generation of computer science students and Team BUG5 will make history as the very first Lao team to qualify for the Imagine Cup regional finals.

The South East Asia Regional Final Round will take place in Manila, Philippines from April 23 to April 27.

Team BUG5 was able to compete and win against teams from multiple countries including Myanmar, Cambodia and Brunei. Second place was won by team Arcane from Cambodia while Team One from Brunei won third.

The team’s project is a solution for visually impaired people to be able to use smart phones like anyone else, the brainchild of winning team members, Thanongsine Chanthakham, Khatthaphone Tamongsoumuangxay and Saiphin Phetamphone who are all students of the National University of Laos, Faculty of Engineering, Division of Computer Emerging and Information Technology.

“We have learned that there are 285 million people estimated to be visually impaired, 39 million are blind and 246 million have low vision per reports from the World Health Organisation. Those people live their lives without seeing the world. If we cannot see the world around us, even the easiest day to day task can be very challenging. Smartphones have changed our lives but smartphones are not designed for people with limited vision. We want to find a technological solution for visually impaired people so that they can start using a smart phone like any of us would do.” said team captain, Mr. Thanongsine.

10 Winning teams, one each from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Laos and Bangladesh will take part at the competition in Manila while the top 7 teams from the SEA Finals will move on to the World Finals.

Michelle Simmons, General Manager of South East Asia New Markets, Microsoft APAC said, “The Imagine Cup is our flagship programme to nurture young innovative talent and highlight the incredible solutions they dream up to change the world. Every year we are inspired by the level of creativity, talent, skills and vision projected by these young students throughout the selection process of Imagine Cup. I am pleased that this year we have a winning team from Laos for the first time that will compete against 9 other teams from countries across the region. I wish Team BUG5 and all other teams’ success at the South-East Asia Regional Finals.”

This year, over 100 countries are expected to compete at various rounds and the top 30 teams worldwide will head to Redmond, Washington for the final competition round.

Microsoft’s Imagine Cup is a global competition that asks computer science students to use their creativity, passion and knowledge of technology to create applications that “shape how people live, work and play”.

Over the years, the competition has given the world promising young innovators and entrepreneurs platforms to work with their ideas and take it to the next level. It has become one of the biggest accelerator programmes in the world with the backing of Microsoft, one of most notable global tech giants.

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