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A team of students from France has won the 2004 Microsoft Imagine Cup, and $25,000 in cash after a weekend of intense competition in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Aymeric Gaurat Apelli, Guillaume Belmas, Francois Beaussier, and Vincent Vergonjeanne from EPITA University developed the winning application: SmartCenter.NET, a home automation platform built on .NET. SmartCentre.Net allows its user to automate functions such as managing energy consumption, watching home security cameras from a Pocket PC or remotely controlling house functions.

Beaussier said it felt "wonderful to win the Imagine Cup, especially as last year we came so close. We came together again this year as the same team to create an automation project, and soon hope to set up our own company and work with French software companies to make automation better."

The Imagine Cup is an annual programming contest open to students around the world. Students must develop a smart software system/application that could improve the quality of everyday life, based on the .Net platform. The application has to contain a mobile device, a smart component, and create and use at least one Web service.

Nearly 150 competitors gathered from 40 countries to fight it out for the top prize. Each team had already won regional and national championships to secure their places in the final, having entered the competition 12 months ago, along with 10,000 other students.

The team from Russia took second place and $15,000 with its Inspirational Classroom Environment, a system that introduces role-based games into, err, the classroom environment. In third place, Team Greece took home $10,000 for its SmartEyes application, designed to guide blind and partially sighted users. Team UK claimed a "Top 12" finish.

Japan will host next year's finals. ®

Related stories

British geeks fly the flag at cup final
UK students' MS codeathon triumph
UK students fancy a trip to Brazil?

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