Patrick Dukes Takes Second in Microsoft Competition

Patrick Dukes, center, of Blythewood, with teammate Austen Hayes, right, accepting a check for $4,000 as second place finishers in the Microsoft Image Cup competition in Australia in June. At left is Larry Hryb, Director of Programming for the Microsoft gaming network Xbox Live.

Blythewood’s Patrick Dukes was one of two students from Clemson University’s School of Computing who took second place in the world Kinect Fun Labs Challenge, held as part of the tenth annual Microsoft Imagine Cup competition.

The competition was held last month in Sydney, Australia.

The theme for the 2012 Cup was ‘Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems.’

Graduate students, Dukes and Austen Hayes, known competitively as the “Whiteboard Pirates,” developed a stroke rehabilitation application using Microsoft’s Kinect tracking system. Kinect is a motion sensing input device that enables users to control and interact with an Xbox 360 without having to touch a game controller. The interface is accomplished with gestures and spoken commands.

“Duck Duck Punch” interjects a little fun into what sometimes can be a challenging rehabilitation regimen. Dukes and Hayes said they saw shortcomings with current stroke therapy that they could address with the Kinect.

“Since we wanted the program to be one that could actually be used, we consulted with stroke therapist, Dr. Michelle Woodbury, of the Medical University of South Carolina,” said Hayes. The goal was a cost-effective system that could be used at home. The pair came up with a design that helps with upper arm therapy.

“Over 500 teams from around the world initially entered the competition by writing a project proposal,” Hayes said. “More than 100 teams were then asked to submit working software, a user’s manual, a written paper and a video describing their application.” The top three teams were awarded a free trip to the final completion in Sydney.

In 10 years, the Imagine Cup has grown to be a global competition focused on finding solutions to real-world problems. Nearly 200 countries and regions registered for the Imagine Cup 2012 competition.

Popular Science magazine wrote about Dukes’ and Hayes’ experience in Australia. “Everybody gets a new Nokia phone and winners get to go to a Microsoft developer’s conference,” the article said. “Everybody gets Bill Gates’s signature on a certificate!” See the complete article online at

Dukes will receive his Master’s from Clemson this year. He is also in the Ph.D. program.

The son of Craig and Pam Dukes of Lake Ashley, Dukes graduated from Blythewood High School in 2006 and was student body president his senior year. He graduated from Winthrop University in 2010 with a B. S. in math.

“We are so proud of Patrick,” Pam Dukes said. “We hope that his project will eventually be widely used to help stroke patients recover from this often devastating event.”

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