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HomeNewsKenya's Team TAWI from USIU wins Microsoft's Imagine Cup competition

Kenya’s Team TAWI from USIU wins Microsoft’s Imagine Cup competition

Four students from the United States International University (USIU) have won the World Championship of Microsoft’s Imagine Cup competition.

The four students have won for themselves the grand prize of USD 100,000, level 2 access to Microsoft Startups Founders Hub and a mentoring session with Microsoft Chairman and CEO, Satya Nadella. They will now take their solution to the next phase and scale it.

In the finals, they encountered the winning teams from other regions i.e. the Americas and Asia, Eupnea from the United States and CS-M Tool from Thailand.

Participating in the global competition as Team TAWI, the four students had earlier trounced 15 other teams in the qualifying round of the competition that saw them emerge as the top team and 2023 Europe Middle East and Africa(EMEA) champions.

They qualified from a pool of 48 competing global teams.

Team TAWI’s solution which won them the world championship seeks to assist people with hearing issues to communicate easily by leveraging on speech recognition tools from Azure Cognitive Services and OpenAI Whisper to enhance speech, reduce background noise, and transcribe speech-to-text in real-time.

“TAWI is an innovative and accessible solution that addresses the communication challenges faced by children with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). APD is a hearing condition in which your brain has challenges processing sounds. By leveraging real-time speech recognition technology, TAWI suppresses background noise, enhances speech quality, and converts speech-to-text, all tailored to each child’s specific needs.”

“With just earphones and a smartphone and the use of AI for the speech to text and audio enhancement, the application will suppress ambient noise in loud environments so that the user can hear the speaker clearly and focus on what they are saying.  In addition the user will be able to read along with speech to text, all of this occurring in real-time. TAWI empowers children with APD to overcome communication barriers, confidently navigate the world and achieve their full potential.”

“TAWI was inspired by one of the team members who has a sibling with APD, and they witnessed firsthand their sibling’s difficulties and recognized the need for a more practical and cost-effective alternative to traditional hearing aids,” a post by the student evangelism team at Microsoft reads.

Team TAWI comprises Zakariya Hussein, Muna Said Nomy, Syntiche Musawu and John Onsongo Mabeya, all Applied Computer Technology and Data Science and Analytics undergraduate students from the USIU.

They are the second student team from the USIU and Africa at large to emerge world champions in the global Imagine Cup competition. 2 years ago, another team from the institution also won the global competition, a first for the continent back then.

Applications are currently open for the 2024 edition of the competition.



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