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College students flip to AI for concepts to enhance lives at this 12 months’s Think about Cup

Lakshmi Narke is motivated by the illness that killed her pal and claims the lives of 1.5 million folks yearly. Syntiche Musawu desires to assist folks like her brother, who struggles with isolation on account of a situation that disrupts how his mind understands what he’s listening to. Tyler Kim is aware of the problem of studying a brand new language and desires to make training extra accessible.  

All three college students are among the many hundreds of members on this 12 months’s Think about Cup, Microsoft’s international competitors for college kids to dream and construct new methods of utilizing expertise to enhance lives. In its 21-year historical past, the annual occasion has drawn greater than 2 million college students from 160 nations to compete for prizes together with money, mentorship and coaching. 

This 12 months, a lot of the innovation power revolves round AI, with the overwhelming majority of scholars utilizing it to spark concepts, from coaching AI fashions to detect ailments to utilizing cognitive APIs to assist folks with disabilities.  

“College students wish to make the world higher by addressing and ultimately fixing critical issues, and the provision of AI is empowering them to do it,” says Charlotte Yarkoni, Microsoft president of Commerce and Ecosystems, which incorporates scholar developer applications.  

“The rise in AI-powered tasks in Think about Cup this 12 months reveals us the potential of AI — the scholars you see working with AI now may quickly create the subsequent innovation we are able to’t stay with out.”  

Right here’s a have a look at among the groups utilizing AI, together with the prime three groups — TAWI, Eupnea and CS-M Instrument — who made it to the 2023 Think about Cup World Championship. That occasion was held at Microsoft Construct 2023 with TAWI named because the winner


Rising up in Congo, Musawu watched her youthful brother wrestle with an auditory processing dysfunction that affected his capability to grasp speech, resulting in difficulties at school and social isolation.  

“My brother doesn’t really feel assured to speak if there may be background noise, however I feel we might help,” says Musawu, a pc science scholar at america Worldwide College-Africa in Kenya.  

She and her crew at the moment are constructing an app referred to as TAWI to assist folks with the dysfunction talk extra simply. It leverages speech recognition instruments from Azure Cognitive Providers and OpenAI Whisper to boost speech, cut back background noise and transcribe speech to textual content in actual time.  

Four team members stand smiling
TAWI crew members (left to proper) Syntiche Musawu, Zakariya Hussein Hassan, Muna Numan Stated and John Onsongo Mabeya (picture courtesy of TAWI)

Customers can join the app to common earphones, making the answer extra inexpensive, accessible and discreet than conventional listening to aids. They’ll additionally learn transcribed speech on their cellphone.  

Targeted on inclusivity, the crew is working with AI fashions to course of totally different languages, accents and background noise, from crosstalk and air conditioners to wind, rain and rural animals.  

“We wish to serve folks in every kind of environments and circumstances,” whether or not they’re in school, in an workplace or residing on a farm, says crew member Zakariya Hussein Hassan. 


Most tuberculosis (TB) deaths happen in nations with much less accessible well being care, inflicting delayed testing and remedy. A typical pores and skin check is especially difficult because it includes two visits for an injection and a assessment a couple of days later. 

Lakshmi Narke and her crew hope their app, Eupnea, will encourage folks to see a physician earlier by rapidly assessing a consumer’s threat for TB. 

A young woman and two men stand smiling against a colorfully illustrated background
Eupnea crew members (left to proper) Chidroop Iyyhappan, Lakshmi Narke and Aditya Sreerama (picture courtesy of Eupnea)

Customers can {photograph} their injection web site with a coin on their arm and Eupnea, powered by Azure Cognitive Providers’ imaginative and prescient instruments, calculates threat by measuring the scale of the pores and skin’s response with the coin as a reference, the scholars say. One other AI algorithm is designed to research a couple of seconds of coughing.  

“AI can cut back the price of making a number of journeys to the physician, who can assessment the outcomes and save a life and restrict publicity to different folks,” says Chidroop Iyyhappan, a pc science graduate scholar at College of California, Irvine.  

The crew additionally desires to assist folks full the lengthy remedy required for TB via a gamified system and a neighborhood that pairs folks for emotional help with Azure Machine Studying. 

The scholars grew up in India, which has the world’s highest burden of TB and is the place Narke’s pal handed away.  

“We’ve misplaced family and friends to this illness and witnessed its affect on communities,” says Narke, additionally a pc science graduate scholar at UC Irvine. “With AI, we are attempting to avoid wasting lives one breath at a time.” 

CS-M Instrument  

Cardiovascular ailments are the main explanation for loss of life globally, however most are thought of preventable, a problem in low- and middle-income nations the place well being care and early detection are much less accessible.  

A crew of highschool college students in Thailand is constructing a screening software they are saying might help folks test themselves for potential indicators of coronary heart illness. With a modified stethoscope linked to a cellphone, the CS-M Instrument (quick for Cardiac Self-Monitoring Instrument) will be capable of analyze a consumer’s heartbeat to offer threat ranges for cardiovascular ailments, the crew says. The scholars additionally plan to include conversational AI to reply fundamental well being questions.  



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