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Students from Sri Lanka crowned runners-up at the 2022 Microsoft Imagine Cup World Championship

Microsoft recently announced that Team Nana Shilpa emerged as the runner-up following an intense finale against Team V Bionic and Team Melodic at the 2022 Imagine Cup World Championship in Seattle, Washington. The team from Sri Lanka won a cash prize of USD 10,000, and with this win Sri Lankan technology got recognized as one of the top three novel solutions at the global competition.

Microsoft Imagine Cup is designed to inspire students to use their imagination and passion for technology to create innovative solutions that tackle some of the world’s biggest social, environmental, and health challenges.

“Our Imagine Cup competition is a great example of the possibilities,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “For 20 years, students have shown us what’s possible when they come together to apply technology to help solve the world’s challenges.”

Team Nana Shilpa emerged as one of the top three to advance to the World Championship out of the tens of thousands of students from over 160 countries who registered for the 2022 Imagine Cup. Last week, the team had the opportunity to showcase their original tech innovation to judges through a 3-minute pitch and a question-and-answer session. The team flew out to Seattle from Colombo for the last leg of the competition.

The team—comprising Kalpani Abeysinghe, Chamil Diluksha, Maheshani Makalanda, and Prabath Shalitha from Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) in Malabe—came up with Nana Shilpa, an application that screens and provides guidance for addressing reading, writing, and math learning disabilities in the Sinhala language. The team announced that the app would support different languages and cultures in a bid to help young children across the world.

Many children with learning disorders struggle in school long before being diagnosed. A learning disorder is an information-processing problem that prevents a person from learning a skill and using it effectively. As a result, the disorder appears as a gap between expected skills, based on age and intelligence, and academic performance.

“We live in a world where technology can address various problems. Nana Shilpa helps to eliminate the delay in learning disability discovery using localized languages. It captures input from a mobile device and processes it using advanced machine learning and computer vision algorithms. If a child is diagnosed positive for a learning disability, the app then provides curated activities to mitigate the condition,” Kalpani discloses.

“The screening AI models are trained using thousands of data points collected from children with learning disabilities,” says Kalpani. “The professional screening process to identify learning disabilities can cost between 400 and 2,000 dollars. With Nana Shilpa, we can cut that to just 60 dollars. We are on a mission to help every kid in the world to read and write.” 

This year’s championship was won by the Team V Bionic from Saudi Arabia and Germany. The team developed a modular exoskeletal hand rehabilitation device called ExoHeal that utilizes neuroplasticity and Azure technology to provide adaptive and gamified rehabilitation exercises to people with hand paralysis.



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