Student Success

Team claVision advances to World Finals of Microsoft Imagine Cup

UPDATE: Team claVision did not garner a top award at the Imagine Cup competition in July but was able to make numerous contacts with members of the music and recording industry for possible further developments of their product.

The University of Lethbridge’s Team claVision is off to the World Finals of Microsoft’s Imagine Cup competition, earning a trip to Seattle, WA at the end of July with the opportunity to win $50,000 and a meeting with Bill Gates.

Students Mohammad Akbari (seated) and Hossein Naseri have taken claVision to the World Finals of the Mircosoft Imagine Cup competition.

Master’s students, Mohammad Akbari (computer science) and Hossein Naseri (physics), along with mentor Dr. Howard Cheng of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, advanced through the World Semifinals round and are one of 11 teams in the Innovation category, and 35 teams worldwide, to make it to the final stage.

“It’s very exciting to make it this far and to be the only Canadian entry to get to the World Finals,” says Cheng.

The team’s project is a software program that utilizes a video camera mounted on a piano that captures a person’s hands as they play the instrument. It then converts the notes being played into sheet music.

“The idea was inspired by Beethoven,” explains Akbari, who began working on the project as part of his master’s thesis. “By the last decade of his life, he was almost totally deaf, forcing him to rely on the visual relationship between his fingers and the piano keys. claVision simulates what a deaf musician like Beethoven does.”

The practical applications of the software are many as it can be used on any kind of musical keyboard and is particularly useful as an educational aid for students learning to play piano.

Since winning the Imagine Cup Canada portion of the event and advancing to the World Semifinal stage, the team had to prepare a business plan for its product, create a 10-minute video presentation, further develop and test the software and provide an instruction manual for its use.

“When we go to Seattle, we’ll be expected to present a live, 10-minute pitch and the judges will perform hands-on testing of the software,” says Cheng. “As well, there will be a day when the public gets an opportunity to test all of the products, so we have a lot of work to do to make sure our software can withstand that scrutiny.”

The top three teams in each of the Games, Innovation and World Citizenship categories receive cash prizes, including $50,000 for first place, $10,000 for second and $5,000 for third.

To learn more about Team claVision’s project, visit the Imagine Cup website here.