Oman


Omani trio set to show their skills


Tech savvy: The team is ready to put forward its best show in a bid to grab the top honour. From left, Asya Al Jabri, Safa Al Mukhaini and Marwa Al Habsi. Photo - Times of Oman

St Petersburg, (RUSSIA): Team Thrizers, representing the Sultanate of Oman today at Microsoft's global student technology competition, Imagine Cup 2013, is set to live up to its expectations after developing the Windows 8 application 'ReadX'.

ReadX is a Windows 8 application, developed by the Thrizers' team members Safa Al Mukhaini, Asya Al Jabri and Marwa Al Habsi, all enrolled at College of Higher Technology, to assist people suffering from dyslexia to read.  

"I have a young relative who suffers from dyslexia, which I discovered when I tried to teach him a few letters of the alphabet. He was reading out different letters from the ones that he was pointing at. Most often, parents label this as a 'slow learner problem' because they evaluate the children according to their academic performance, which is wrong. That's when I decided to develop this application.

"The world needs these types of applications. The Imagine Cup is a large platform that allows us to reach out to the world with our application," said Asya Al Jabri.

The Microsoft Imagine Cup is a global student technology competition focused on finding solutions to real world problems. Since 2003, over 1.65 million students have participated in the Imagine Cup.

This year, more than 25,000 students from 71 countries participated in the competition, representing a 12 per cent increase over 2012. In the finals this year at St Petersburg, Russia, 309 students from 87 teams and 71 countries are competing for more than $1 million in prizes and awards.

Safa Al Mukhaini hopes the 'ReadX' application will appeal to the judges because dyslexia is one of the great global challenges. "'ReadX' helps to detect dyslexia at a very early stage, before the condition becomes more difficult to tackle.
"We believe that the app is essential to cater to the needs of millions of people with dyslexia around the globe. It is easy and simple to use," said Al Mukhaini.

"In Oman, the only centre for dyslexia patients is in Muscat. We believe that since we are trying to help detect the condition through an application, we will be able to reach out to the length and breadth of the country very easily, given the fact that most people, even in remote areas, use smart phones nowadays. That's a big advantage," she added.

Officials note that taking part in the Imagine Cup gives young minds a chance to solve tough problems facing the world today, and even turn their ideas into viable businesses.

Also, there is the opportunity to learn new technological skills and be tested against the brightest students from around the world.

In his address, John Scott Tynes, Imagine Cup Competition Manager, Microsoft Academic Programmes, said, "You, the students, the dreamers, the visionaries; from around the world, by plane and by train, toting computers and robots and equipment… you've brought your ambitions and your passions.

"You came not just to compete and to win, but to put a stake in the ground that says: this is my life. This is what I do with it. This isn't just where I am; it's where I'm going."

The Thrizers team has been supported by the Information Technology Authority (ITA) of Oman as part of its commitment to incubate local talents, as well as nurture their ICT skills. The team is ready to put forward its best showing in a bid to grab the top honour.

"We have worked hard. We are here to give our best, too. Also, we will go back with a global competitive experience that will certainly encourage us, and many young minds like us in Oman, to develop more such applications that will help mankind to solve many problems that the world faces today. But for now, our full focus is on putting up our best performance today," added Marwa Al Habsi.

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I am certain that youngsters in Oman would be very pleased to read this report. The ReadX concept, developed by Team Thrizers, is something very unusual in the field of information technology, and is going to help many around the globe who suffers reading disability. It is also an equal opportunity for IT enthusiasts to be part of it. The ReadX concept is a blessing for those who are suffering from dyslexia, a specific learning disorder. The world definitely needs applications of these types. I wish Team Thrizers all the very best in their effort to be recognised.