Two Australian medical students beat 14,000 other teams in Microsoft's yearly global technology contest, Imagine Cup. The competition, on its 12th year, has college and high school students battling to create tech solutions with a wide range of issues from health to games to innovation.
The Aussie team named Eyenaemia got a $50,000 prize, mentoring sessions with Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, and the Imagine Cup trophy for their phone app that helps users identify risk for anemia by taking a selfie of their eye.
The app developed by Jarrel Seah and Jennifer Tang, both 22-year-old medical students at Monash University in Melbourne, analyses the conjunctiva - the transparent membrane lining the eyelid and covering the white surface of the eye - to make a risk assessment.
Anemia is the result of a deficiency in red blood cells due to poor diet. Tang said there are 2 billion anemia sufferers throughout the world, which could be especially dangerous for pregnant women.
Besides the lower eyelid selfie, users must also take a picture of a thumb-sized colour chart that permits a computer system to screen for the ailment based on the eyelid's colour.
Tang said they would use the $50,000 to expand the research since their team has two researches ongoing at the Mildura Base Hospital and Cabrini Hospital in Melbourne. The app has almost 100 per cent accuracy rate.
Microsoft announced the result of the Imagine Cup on Friday at the Washington State Convention Center. It trimmed the original 14,000 teams to 34 that represent 34 counties and the 16 judges further reduced the number of finalists to 9 teams for the championship round.
There were actually three category winners, Eyenaemia won the world-citizenship category. In the innovation category, the winner was Estimeet from New Zealand which created an app showing the distance the user's friends are from a designated meeting location.
For the games category, team Brainy Studio from Russia for TurnOn, which is a game how a small electrical spark attempts to light up a city. The three then competed for the championship trophy won by the pair from Australia.
The selection of the champion was made by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Cord.org co-founder Hadi Partovi and Reddit General Manager Erik Martin. The three judges said they selected Eyenaemia as the top winner because of its elegant and simple solution to a widespread health problem and the availability of a distribution plan by the team members for the winning app.
Included in their distribution plans are remote villages with little access to health services.