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The winning team in the Australian round of Microsoft's Imagine Cup developed a digital stethoscope that can diagnose pneumonia, the largest killer of children under 5.

A team from the University of Melbourne has won the Australian round of the Imagine Cup, an international contest run by Microsoft that invites students to attack difficult problems.

Team StethoCloud - Hon Weng Chong, Andrew Lin, Kim Ramchen and Masha Salehi of the University of Melbourne - chose to address the prevalence of pneumonia in the developing world. The team developed an inexpensive digital stethoscope what connects to a smartphone and digitises the patient's breathing sounds, which are matched against a medical database to deliver a diagnosis and treatment plan.

The digital stethoscope is said to be 4000% cheaper than available commercial products (presumably meaning it costs one fortieth as much).

"In some countries, parents are known to hold off taking their kids for medical care because they often think a cough is just a cold and the nearest clinic can be a day's walk away," said team leader Hon Weng Chong. "But what if any mother could diagnose pneumonia? What if a healthcare or community worker on every corner could have the power in their hands to help save a life?"

Team StethoCloud will represent Australia at the worldwide finals of the Imagine Cup, to be held later this year in Sydney.

The runner-up was a team from the University of Canberra, which developed an app to track the use-by dates of food items, suggests recipes using the expiring items, and encourages donations to nearby charities and food banks.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences, a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies, and is a senior member of the Australian Computer Society.

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