USIU-Africa’s Team TAWI have won the 2023 Microsoft Imagine Cup World Championship. The Imagine Cup is an annual technology innovation competition for students from around the world.

In addition to being crowned the World Champions, the team has won 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 is an annual technology innovation competition for students from around the world, where students can come together to push the boundaries of what’s possible and bring their ground-breaking solutions to a global stage. Over the past 21 years, more than two million students have signed up to build and learn together, make a difference in their communities, and innovate for impact.

The TAWI team, John Onsongo Mabeya, Muna Said, Syntiche Musawu Cishimbi and Zakariya Hussein Hassan, met at a school hackathon, where they discovered they had common goals and complementary skills.

The TAWI team wanted to ensure that children with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD can seamlessly integrate with their peers and feel included. With expertise in software development, machine learning, data analysis, and human-computer interaction, members of the team worked to develop the TAWI app.

TAWI is a software app that helps children with APD improve their auditory skills. Auditory Processing Disorder (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. Users can connect the app to regular earphones, making the solution more affordable, accessible, and discreet than traditional hearing aids. They can also read transcribed speech on their phone.

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. Users will also be able to read along with speech to text, all occurring in real-time.

The app uses GitHub CoPilot, Visual Studio IntelliCode and speech recognition tools from Azure Cognitive Services and OpenAI Whisper and includes speech enhancement, speech-to-text conversion, and gamified auditory training exercise.