(From left) Zulnazim Dzulkarnain, Tan Yit Peng and Yap Xien Yin will compete at the Imagine Cup World Finals in Seattle in July.

THREE Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia students won Microsoft’s second Imagine Cup Asia Pacific Regional Finals held in Kuala Lumpur after a nail-biting finale against 14 teams from across the region.

Team Pine, comprising Tan Yit Peng, Yap Xien Yin and Zulnazim Dzulkarnain, developed a hand-held sensing device to help pineapple farmers efficiently evaluate optimal levels of ripeness prior to harvest, in a non-intrusive manner. It won US$3,000 (RM11,600) and a trophy.

“Currently, a conventional method is used to determine the quality of a pineapple and this is done intrusively using a refractometer, a field device, which leads to a lot of wastage.

“Our device is a quick and easy solution that farmers can use,” said Tan.

Team Pine and six teams from Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Korea and Nepal will compete at the Imagine Cup World Finals in Seattle in July.

The World Finals will gather more than 50 student teams from all over the world, all vying for the top prize of up to US$100,000, mentorship opportunities with Microsoft chief executive officer Satya Nadella as well as grants and credits to bring their winning solutions to the market.

Team BeeConnex from Thailand is the first runner-up while Team 7x from Singapore is second runner-up.

Team BeeConnex came up with Smart Hive, an IoT device that enables beekeepers to monitor the health of beehives. Team 7x created ProCubeX, an interactive smart learning cube designed as an early intervention tool for children with dyslexia.

The People’s Choice Award went to Team BeeTech from Vietnam, which developed a Smart Car Box that helps car owners pre-empt any possible complications.

The team garnered support from voters in an online voting component of the regional finals.

The 15 finalist teams which participated in the regional finals came from nine countries (Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam).

These teams were selected from local finals held in each country earlier this year.

Held annually since 2003, Imagine Cup provides an opportunity for student technologists, developers and aspiring entrepreneurs from all academic backgrounds to collaborate, develop a technology application, create a business plan and gain a keen understanding of how to bring a concept to market.

Microsoft Malaysia managing director K. Raman said: “With Imagine Cup, we continue to build on our goal to empower students and prepare the future workforce.”

This year’s judging panel included Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation talent and digital entrepreneurship director Siti Norliza Mohd Sahar; National University of Singapore Enterprise programme director Kelvin Tan Cheng Kian; Thriving Talents founder Michael Teoh Su Lim; 1337 Ventures founder and chief executive officer Bikesh Lakshmi; Netizen Experience co-founder and UX consultant Alvin Chai; Microsoft commercial software engineering (audience evangelism) director LJ Chiu; and Microsoft commercial software engineering (technical evangelist) director Chris Auld.

Microsoft Asia Pacific commercial software engineering lead Dave Miller said: “Imagine Cup has always strived to be the platform for students to turn their dreams into entrepreneurial realities. Every year, we have the privilege to witness great ideas from budding innovators working hard to solve pressing challenges with smart, effective solutions.

“We are here to help them take their first steps towards achieving their goals, and we are excited to see how their ideas will define the future we will live in.”

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