To help disabled people expand their capabilities, computer-science students and graduates at the University of Southern California have organized a software-writing competition to foster innovative ideas, reports the New York Times. The competition is sponsored by a nonprofit corporation set up by the USC students and graduates, called Project:Possibility. It grew out of an idea two years ago by Christopher Leung, then a master’s degree candidate in computer science and engineering at the university. The effort is centered at USC and led by volunteers, including Ely Lerner, an information systems developer at Amgen Inc.; Elias Sayfi, a senior software engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory; and Stanley Lam, an undergraduate business student at USC. In 2007, they organized a competition called "Code for a Cause" in which 25 students in five teams engaged in a weekend of intense computer code-writing. The event attracted assistance from executives at Google, Amgen, and the propulsion laboratory. This year, in October, the competition expanded to 50 students in eight teams with mentors from Google, Amgen, and the laboratory, as well as judges from Lockheed Martin and Amgen and encouraging words from a Microsoft executive. The winning project in this year’s competition was a program called Bar Code Reader, which helps the visually impaired read information on grocery items. It allows vision-impaired shoppers to point their cell phones at supermarket shelves and hear descriptions of products and prices. Second place went to Mind Control, which allows the physically disabled to guide a computer mouse using brain waves and eye movements. All the code, written in 12-hour sessions on a single weekend, made progress, but also left room for further development…

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