QU applauds 1st place winners of the Microsoft Imagine Cup national round -- Team QSpark -- Rahma Saleh Ali, Latefa Talal Al-Naimi, Mariam Ali Ba Hameish, Amna Khalid Al-Kaabi for their project ARTOUCH: Interactive Digital Haptic Artifacts System.
The 3rd year students from the College of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) were mentored by CSE faculty Dr Osama Halabi.
They surpassed 4 other university teams in the Doha round of the most prestigious student technology competition which brings together students from all over the world. They will go on to represent Qatar in the international finals to be held in Russia in July this year.
Their success follows that of their colleagues Fatma Al-Msaifri, Mariam Al-Ansari, Roqaya Al Shaabi and Yasmin Halwani (Technology Lanterns) who last year won the national round and represented Qatar in the international finals in Sydney.
In a press conference held by Microsoft Qatar on March 26 to announce the winning team, the students had the opportunity to outline details of their project to an audience comprising QU President Prof Sheikha Abdulla Al-Misnad, Microsoft Qatar Manager Nr Naim Yazbeck, Dr Halabi, and members of the Arabic and English press. Also present was QAPCO Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Dr Mohamad al-Mulla – QAPCO is the main sponsor of Imagine Cup Qatar.
Team QSpark’s project provides a way for visitors to virtually interact with museum exhibits. The technology uses Microsoft’s Kinect sensor, computer and a haptic device. An added sound in 3D space will increase in volume and will carry information about the exhibits when visitors approach them. This application can also benefit the sight-impaired people as well as by giving them the ability to touch and feel the artifacts. “The addition of touch will also benefit them to make their visit to museums a memorable experience”, Latefa was quoted as saying, adding that “though people are not allowed to touch artifacts in museums, now they can virtually touch them using a haptic device”.
Congratulating the students on their achievement, Prof Al Misnad said: “Our students have again demonstrated a high level of innovation and creativity that will take them onto the international stage to compete with top students from universities around the world. I stand with the QU community in celebrating their wonderful achievement and cheer them on as they prepare for the finals in July. All very best of luck to them”.
Mr Yazbeck mentioned in his remarks that this year, only five projects were shortlisted from 470 registrations. The quality of the projects were high and the final decision was tough to reach by the judges, he said, noting that this is the second year for Imagine Cup in Qatar. “Last year’s team was selected among best 4 teams from USA, Germany, and Australia to be part of the launch press in New York and passed the 2nd round to end in top 20 worldwide”, he said.
Department head Prof Sebti Foufou said: “We are extremely proud of our students who worked very hard on this project and received excellent guidance from their mentor Dr Halabi. We are confident that they will be very successful in the finals and offer full support in their journey to that important moment”.
Dr Halabi also congratulated the students, saying: “Your hard work has paid off and you should be very proud of your achievement. the students. I am exceedingly proud of how hard you’ve worked, on top of your commitment to classes, exams and how highly motivated you are to finish the project and represent Qatar in the world final. Onwards to Russia and the continuation of an invaluable and very rewarding experience”.
He added: “Imagine Cup is a unique experience and great opportunity to motivate the student to compete locally and globally and I am very happy to invest my time with such intelligent students to help them achieve their dreams”.