USIU-Africa’s Team TAWI from Kenya emerged victorious in the prestigious 2023 Microsoft Imagine Cup World Championship held during the Microsoft Build event last week. This annual technology innovation competition brings together students from around the world to showcase their groundbreaking solutions on a global stage. The team’s outstanding performance not only secured them the title of World Champions but also earned them a $100,000 prize, a mentorship session with Microsoft’s Chairman and CEO, Satya Nadella, and Level 2 access to Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub.
The Imagine Cup has a rich history of empowering students and encouraging them to push the boundaries of what is possible. Over the past 21 years, more than two million students have participated in the competition, creating a significant impact in their communities through innovation and collaboration. This year’s event witnessed an exceptional display of ingenuity and creativity as teams from diverse backgrounds and cultures redefined the limits of technological innovation.
The winning team, TAWI, comprises John Onsongo Mabeya, Muna Said, Syntiche Musawu Cishimbi, and Zakariya Hussein Hassan. These talented individuals met during a school hackathon, where they discovered their shared goals and complementary skills. Together, they embarked on a mission to address Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) and ensure seamless integration for children with this condition.
Auditory Processing Disorder is a hearing condition that poses challenges in processing sounds within the brain. TAWI, the software application developed by Team TAWI, aims to improve the auditory skills of children with APD. By leveraging real-time speech recognition technology, TAWI effectively suppresses background noise, enhances speech quality, and converts speech to text, tailoring the experience to the specific needs of each child. The app can be connected to regular earphones, making it more affordable, accessible, and discreet compared to traditional hearing aids. Additionally, users can read transcribed speech directly on their smartphones.
With the help of artificial intelligence (AI) for speech-to-text conversion and audio enhancement, TAWI allows users to hear speakers clearly even in noisy environments. The app also provides real-time speech-to-text synchronization, enabling users to read along as they listen. This innovative solution empowers children with APD to overcome communication barriers, confidently navigate the world, and achieve their full potential. TAWI not only serves as a practical and affordable alternative to traditional hearing aids but also equips children with the necessary tools to communicate effectively and confidently.
The development of TAWI involved leveraging several cutting-edge technologies. The team utilized GitHub CoPilot and Visual Studio IntelliCode for software development. They also integrated speech recognition tools from Azure Cognitive Services and OpenAI Whisper. The app incorporates speech enhancement, speech-to-text conversion, and gamified auditory training exercises to provide a comprehensive solution.
In recognition of their remarkable achievement, Team TAWI was awarded a $100,000 cash prize, a mentorship session with Satya Nadella, and Level 2 access to Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub. Angela Ng’ang’a, Education Director at Microsoft Africa, expressed immense pride in Kenya’s winning Imagine Cup team. She commended their use of Microsoft technology to deliver world-class solutions for local problems and acknowledged the incredible innovation and problem-solving skills demonstrated by Kenyan students.