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Introducing the UK Imagine Cup Team

From Hull and Back

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Welcome to the first blog entry from team ‘Three Pair’. Team who?

To introduce ourselves, we are a team of three students who all attend The University of Hull on various computer-related courses: James Lissiak, Tom Randell and Andy Sterland. On 10 March, after a day of presentations and camera interviews, it was announced that we had won the UK final of the Imagine Cup 2006 and would be going to the world final in India to represent our country.

For readers out there who haven’t heard of the Imagine Cup, this is a worldwide, Microsoft-run competition for student developers. The competition has numerous countries and regions taking part and is broken down into a number of stages. We entered the Software Design Challenge for which each region runs a local competition and then enters their winner into the worldwide final, where ultimately an overall winner is decided.

The UK finals were focused on our idea and its potential, where we had to deliver a short presentation with a brief demonstration of our prototype. Now, after the UK final, we really need to get down to it and get our hands dirty, and with a bit of luck, and a lot of caffeine, knock out some cleaner code…

So, we’ve gone over who we are and what the Imagine Cup is, but what in God’s name were we developing? And how did we come up with the idea?

It all began a long time ago, about three months ago actually, in a place far away, that place would be Hull. The three of us sat down to discuss a few ideas with our mentor, the ever Google-able Rob Miles. Is Google-able even a word? We discussed several ideas based around this year’s theme: “Imagine a world where technology enables us to live healthier lives”.

This soon concluded as we realised we were all completely clueless; it became apparent that we knew next to nothing about health. Being a bunch of struggling student geeks, with an unrelenting appetite for caffeine and sugar, meant health was quite a way down on our list of priorities. Probably sitting just below getting hold of one of those quirky binary watches you can buy. Can anyone actually really use those things? Do they feel clever for it?

So, basically we came to the conclusion that we needed to speak with an expert. Another one of our lecturers, Jon Purdy, just happened to have collaborated with an “Intensivist” called Paul Dark; before you ask, yes Intensivist is a real word they are medical staff who specialise in working in Intensive Care Units. It just so happens that Paul works for the University of Manchester lecturing on such areas of health care. It was decided that we should pop across and have a chat with Paul.

After a three hour meeting with Paul, during which he described the ICU environment and how he thought technology could play a part there, it surfaced that the idea of a journal of things that happened in the real world while the patients was in ICU might be of use in the recovery of the patient. Patients in recovery can then go over events they had missed during periods of coma or incapacity and fill in the memory gaps associated with this, from here the patient could build up an anchor and continuity of reality that they would otherwise be without. And so the basic premise for the application was born, over the next few days and weeks it suffered somewhat from feature creep and has now become something of a project behemoth.

During the build up to the final we put in a lot of effort and consumed mucho caffeine in order to cobble together some working demos along with the required bumf, the technical term for that pretty stuff people like to look at e.g. presentations and their ilk.

As we progressed through the project we are going to be examining and working with some fun and interesting technologies like WinFX, JavaScript (we’d say AJAX but buzz words scare us), tonnes of .NET 2.0 and of course some SQL type stuff; just because you can’t seem to do anything without a database nowadays.

So, despite having won the UK final, we’re only just setting off on our journey and over the coming weeks this blog will be chronicling our adventures as we prepare for and embark on the road to Delhi.

We’re hoping that we can get as much support from The Register readers and the backing of the UK IT industry, so please subscribe to our blog and continue to come to check on our progress… ®

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