Behind the Microsoft Super Bowl Commercial – inspiration for Imagine Cup?

ImageCupLogo[1]The Microsoft Super Bowl commercial is all about the power of technology to change our lives. Find out a little more about the stories behind the commercial, and maybe you’ll be inspired to enter Imagine Cup with your own life changing idea!

You know when I started writing this blog post, my first thought was Go Hawks! But, as I started to learn more about the individual stories behind the Microsoft commercial, suddenly the game faded into the background as I got caught up in some amazing stories of how technology is being used today to change lives. Fair warning, there is no way you can watch some of these videos and not get a little emotional!

Here’s is the original commercial:


Steve Gleason – the narrator

The narrator of the video is Steve Gleason, former NFL player and post-Katrina hero of the New Orleans Saints, now living with ALS. ALS has taken away his ability to move and speak independently. Steve narrates the Super Bowl Ad the same way he communicates daily -- using his Surface Pro to speak using Tobii’s eye gazer technology.  You can learn more in this video telling Steve’s story. You can also check out Team Gleason.

Braylon O’Neill – the boy running between the pylons

In the commercial, you also see a little boy running between pylons on prosthetic legs. That little boy is Braylon O’Neill. He was born missing tibia and fibula bones in both of his legs. Microsoft technology is used by his physical therapist to analyze his gait mechanics. You can learn more about this inspiring young man’s story. He is also a featured athlete on the Challenged Athlete Foundation website.

Sarah Churman – hearing her kids

The lady holding the earpiece to her ear is Sarah Churman. She grew up with 85% hearing loss. She got a hearing implant in 2011 that has changed her life. Microsoft technology is used interoperably as part of the solution that picks up the vibrations. You can learn more about her story and you can follow Sarah’s blog.

Hal Lisko – the painter

The older gentleman who talks about losing his sight and his fear of not being able to paint is Hal Lasko, 97. He was a typographer and would hand draw letters and type faces. The ability to zoom in on Microsoft Paint has allowed him to continue creating remarkable works of art. You can learn more about his story and see his artwork at

Scott Bedley – the kids on Skype

The kids in the classroom waving are taught by Scott Bedley. His class uses Skype to connect his students with other students around the world. Imagine playing 20 questions to figure out where the person you are talking to is going to school. You can learn more about their story.

The surgeons – Kinect in the operating room

The surgeon in the operating room is using GestSure. In the past a surgeon would need to scrub in and out to go look at different x-rays and views. The Kinect technology allows the surgeon to manipulate the images without scrubbing out. You can see a more detailed video, and you can also visit the GestSure website to learn more. I saw a similar project at the Imagine Cup World Finals in St Petersburg. A team of students created a similar system that allowed a surgeon to bring up patient files, history, and open different sets of x-rays and images using the Kinect in the operating room.

What’s next? Imagine Cup!

It’s not just big research companies and private industry that are changing lives. Every year, students from around the world use their passion, imagination, and skills to try and help others with technology. Microsoft encourages this innovation through the Imagine Cup, a worldwide competition that asks students to see just how far they can go using today’s technology. At the Imagine Cup world finals I have seen students from Slovenia using big data to analyze bee hives, students from Ukraine designed gloves to translate sign language into speech, students from Australia who help diagnose pneumonia with a cell phone, the list goes on and on!

We are thrilled to be having Canadian Imagine Cup Finals again in 2014 and I cannot wait to see what Canadian students bring to life! Find out more about the finals and how to enter at and you can see all the stories behind the scenes from the Microsoft commercial at the site Empowering Us All.

Comments (2)

  1. Sarah Churman says:

    Great post!

  2. Susan Ibach says:

    Sarah thank you for sharing your story!!

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