Swinburne Sarawak students a step closer to Microsoft competition finals in US

Stella and Daniel with (from left, back row) Cheu, Siew, Wang, Sim and Mohamad Yuzrie.

Stella and Daniel with (from left, back row) Cheu, Siew, Wang, Sim and Mohamad Yuzrie.

KUCHING: Three teams from Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus have qualified for the regional finals of the Microsoft Imagine Cup after they won the national round, recently.

If they make it through the June regional finals they will qualify for the world finals in Seattle in the US this July.

At the just-concluded Malaysian leg in Malacca, multimedia design undergraduates Cheu Chee Xian and Siew Chung Lee took first place in the games category with their creation ‘Plug in’.

Inspired by real-life experience, the game requires players to ensure their phones do not run out of power by locating compatible power points. Players will face a variety of obstacles when they try to charge their devices.  

It took the pair a month to build the game. As there were only two of them the workload was a challenge, and making the game interesting enough so that it attracts players added to the pressure, said Cheu.

“It was a race against time. Sometimes we go without sleep for two days. We were very stressed and it felt like our heads were on fire. That’s why we call ourselves ‘Burning Hair’,” said Cheu.

First runner-up in the same category was team ‘Tribal Seed’ comprising multimedia design students Stella Wang Tze Feng and Sim Jia Ying, and ICT student Mohamad Yuzrie Bin Khalid.

Their ‘Seven Lands’ adventure puzzle game was based on indigenous Iban cosmology.

Wang and Sim had competed in last year’s finals in Seattle. Wang is now mentoring the team, and for the upcoming regional round “Tribal Seed” will team up with ‘Burning Hair’.

In the “World Citizenship” category siblings Daniel and Stella Vong of team ‘BAWA’ took first place.

Their year-long project, ‘Easing mobility challenges for the visually impaired’, is a low cost solution that adds advanced capabilities to the white cane, including an obstacle avoidance feature with audio alert and a button that sends out messages via a phone during an emergency.

The cane could also be paired to a Microsoft Band for haptic feedback.

Daniel, who is pursuing a double degree in engineering, and his sister Stella, a business student, have worked with the visually impaired to improve the workings of the cane.

The Imagine Cup is a global technology program and competition that provides opportunities for students across all disciplines to create applications, games and solutions. Students have to form an original technology project from start to finish in the three main categories: Games, Innovation and World Citizenship.

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