I've had the honor of being a Microsoft Imagine Cup Judge since 2008 --I'm officailly an old-timer trading stories with the elders of this august event. Sitting together in the judges lounge yesterday, I remarked to a fellow judge how each Imagine Cup seems to feature projects with at least one new technology. In Cairo it was the Windows phone, in New York it was the Kinect box, and here in Redmond this year it was the Microsoft Wristband. Why was that?
Some investigation yielded the answer: the software development kit (SDK) that the students received at the start of competition last fall included the new Wristband. Of course the students wanted to write apps for it! Smart.
Everyone is talking about wearables. Even those of us in the humanitarian sector are talking about wearable technologies. In the World Citizenship category, 4 of the 12 teams incorporated the Band. All were health applications. Motion and heart-rate sensing were the basic inputs for Parkinsons, Cardio-arithmia, asthma and seizure detection apps.
The interesting aspect of this is how the expectation has grown that the students will create new apps around the new tech. I've written about the five things students don't have. The most important is they have no sense of limitation. There is no "that won't work here"; there is only "let's do it!"
What if we had similar expectations for the emerging country communities in which we work as humanitarians? That putting the technology and some basic training and support into the hands of local entrepreneurs just may yield some new ideas that we hadn't thought of. Imagine that.