Currently Microsoft are running their Imagine Cup, the company’s annual student developer competition at their Seattle head office.
A regular fixture for the last 14 years, the Imagine Cup is Microsoft’s opportunity to show how emerging applications can be based upon their technologies. It tells us as much about the company’s successes as it’s missed opportunities.
With Artificial Intelligence and machine learning being the upcoming battlegrounds for the software giants, it’s not surprising many of this year’s competitors are focused on applying those technologies.
A good example of this is the Ani platform of Australia’s entrant, Black.ai, which analyses spatial movement and biometric information. In many ways this adds intelligence to smarthomes and has immediate applications in fields like aged patient care.
Black.ai’s timing is very good as patient monitoring has become an issue in their home country and veteran tech investor Mark Suster predicts tracking the flow of people is going to be a huge market.
The patient care angle of Black.ai’s is particularly pertinent to the Imagine Cup competition as health services have been a focus in the past. Two years ago the winners were another Australian medical services platform, Eyenaemia that used a smartphone app to detect anemia.
While the Imagine Cup is a good showcase for Microsoft, the competition also shows how the market has evolved around the company. Most of the contests have a smartphone component and the cloud features heavily in all the applications, both are fields where Microsoft has either struggled or is playing catch up.
The focus on cognitive computing and artificial intelligence in this year’s event shows the company is keen to show off its prowess in the emerging battle with Amazon, Google, Apple and no doubt other companies. Microsoft will be hoping they won’t be left behind in the next wave of computing.