East Hawaii News

UH-Hilo’s Team Poliahu Returns From Imagine Cup

July 12, 2013, 5:19 PM HST
* Updated July 12, 5:20 PM
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The team of computer science students from the University of Hawaii at Hilo has returned from an international competition without any new awards but with an enriching experience.

The event was Microsoft’s Imagine Cup 2013 Worldwide Finals held in St. Petersburg, Russia where teams from across the globe presented their entries consisting of applications using Microsoft resources to address world problems.

Team Poliahu in May won the US competition with its application “Help Me Help,” which focused on community aid for disaster relief efforts. The application was designed to assist the community and emergency response personnel in disaster situations by allowing users to upload images of nearby hazards through the use of smart phones.

The team from the United Kingdom placed first with its mobile phone application called SoundSYNK which establishes impromptu social networks by connecting phones via Bluetooth, UH-Hilo officials said.

Team DORA of Slovenia finished second and Team MYRA from Thailand placed third.

Team Poliahu member Mike Purvis said the competition was a unique opportunity to showcase their application as well as Hawaii.

Even before the competition, the team’s booth – and its adorning lei – got a warm reception, he said.

Members of Team Poliahu set up their booth at the Imagine Cup in St. Petersburg, Russia. Courtesy photo.

Members of Team Poliahu set up their booth at the Imagine Cup in St. Petersburg, Russia. Courtesy photo.

“Women from Italy, Qatar, South Africa came flocking to our booth once they saw others wearing our lei’s,” Purvis said in a report earlier this week.

The team’s visual aids included a seismograph reading from the 2006 Kiholo earthquake as well as images of natural disasters that have taken place on the Big Island.

“We were very popular among the competitors and the public,” Purvis said in a statement issued today. “We feel proud of our project, presentation, and the teams that won.”

Purvis said after the team catches up on some sleep it is looking forward to implementing the Mauna Kea Guide — a program that inspired Help Me Help – which is designed to track native and invasive species.

Team Poliahu’s other members are Kayton Summers, Wallace Hamada and Ryder Donahue.

The Imagine Cup is considered the premier student technology competition that honors innovations that address the world’s toughest problems.

This year’s competition drew 87 student teams from 71 countries who competed for more than $1 million in cash and prizes after winning local and online competitions around the world.

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