2008 Imagine cup Australian winner. Project SOAK

We just had the great honour of being announced as the Australian winner of the 2008 Imagine Cup and will be flying to France in July to compete in the world finals (visit http://imaginecup.com/ for more details). This is a fantastic award to have won so I thought I would take the time to explain and give an overview of what SOAK is and the vision we have for its future development.

Elevator pitch
SOAK is an integrated software and hardware platform with the aspiration of helping farmers achieve sustainable use of their land. This is achieved through the integrated use of environmental sensing, rich visual front ends to display the information to the farmer, and a subsystem which controls farm equipment such as sprinkler systems

Sensing the environment
SOAK supports a wide range of sensors such as

  • Temperature
  • Rainfall
  • Dam depth
  • Salinity
  • Etc.

These sensors provide SOAK with the relevant real time information that is needed for the more advanced functionality.

External data resources
SOAK utilises a number of resources such as Microsoft Virtual Earth for mapping data, Weather forecasting for predictions on when to water, and the British Telecom SDK for SMS notifications when there is a critical event at a farm (such as a fault in farm equipment)

Manipulating the environment
An automated watering system allows for a very fine level of control over when to water. The weather forecasting is taken into consideration when calculating if now is the best time to water the crop. If rain is predicted to fall in the next 48hours, the system can hold back from water so as to reduce the water consumption of the farm.

User interaction
Currently SOAK has implemented 3 delivery mechanisms each targeted to a specific use and data consumption.
The Silverlight web application is the main access point for SOAK. Here we present very detailed and visual information tailored to management users. This was created as a mashup between Microsoft Virtual Earth and Silverlight 2.0 Beta1.

The Windows Vista Sidebar gadget provides data at a glance with the most important statistics about the areas they are concerned with.

The PDA application provides field operators with real-time summary information about the areas they are visiting and gives them access to a manual over-ride of the sprinkler system when out in the field.

Additional information
This was a very brief introduction to the SOAK system, if you would like to see a better one page overview please look at the executive summary that was submitted to the judges. SOAK executive summary

My team mate Long Zheng has also blogged about our project http://www.istartedsomething.com/20080523/imagine-cup-australian-winner-project-soak/

If you would like to contact me for further information about SOAK, please leave your details.
My twitter feed is http://twitter.com/DavidBurela if you would like to keep informed of the last SOAK information

By David Burela

University of Tasmania Vista/Office2007 Launch event

On Friday 30th March there will be a launch event for the new Microsoft Windows Vista and Office 2007 showcasing the new features and capabilities of the 2 products.

Many topics will be covered, with some of the interesting features including:

  • Windows media centre, the new Aero interface and sidebar gadgets in Vista.
  • New ways to visualise data in excel, creating “smart art”, the new user interface and applying themes to entire documents in Office.

There will be a free BBQ afterwards for all students that attend the presentation
Date: Friday 30th March
Where: School of computing, video conferencing room, 4th floor
Time: Presentaiton 11-12, BBQ 12-3pm

By David Burela

Tasmania University Societies Day

The 28th of Feburary was Societies day at the University of Tasmania. It is a chance for all the different student societies to setup a stall and encourage students to signup to their society by offering ‘incentives’ (Usually in the form of alcohol).

Lots of students

As the president of IDS I helped organise our stall this year. When students sign up to our society for $10 they get

  • 1gb of storage on our linux server to host their own website (supports PHP, MYSQL, etc.)
  • Access to our monthly events (BBQs and LANs)
  • 5 vodka Jelly shots
  • a free BBQ (provided by the Australian Computer Society)
  • drinks card for a local bar

Nerd BBQ
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