Updated: Team LifeLens placed third in the Windows Phone 7 category after competing in Microsoft’s Imagine Cup 2011. Winners were announced Wednesday at the Imagine Cup World Festival and Awards Ceremony at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center in New York.

The event was the culmination of a six-day celebration of technology, hard work and ingenuity. Narrowed from more than 350,000 global registrants, more than 400 students from 70 countries traveled to New York to compete at the Worldwide Finals.

Earlier story: Tristan Gibeau, a 2011 University of Central Florida graduate, arrived in New York City today hoping a phone app he and a few friends developed will take top honors at the Imagine Cup World Finals.

The international competition challenges students to use their imaginations along with the latest technology to solve global problems. The winning team receives money to develop its product and potentially take it to market.

Gibeau and a group of friends at universities across the nation figured out how to turn smart phones into virtual microscopes that can detect malaria from a digital snapshot of a patient’s blood sample.

“It sounds crazy, I know,” said Gibeau, who developed the software to make the process work. “But with the technology we have, it’s very possible, and I love the idea of being able to make a difference in the world.”

The team took second place in one category of the national competition in April, but was able to get a spot to in the World Finals by coming in first in another category.

“It’s very exciting,” Gibeau said earlier, as he prepared for his trip to New York.

More than 127 teams from around the world are competing in 11 categories, which include everything from software design to information technology.

Gibeau’s team is called LifeLens. Other members are: Wilson To, of the University of California at Davis; Cy Khormaee of the Harvard Business School; Jason Wakizaka, a UCF graduate now at the UCLA Anderson School of Management; and Helena Xu with the global financial services firm UBS.

To led the team and provided the biological expertise, while Gibeau cracked the software challenge. Other team members helped develop the lens, the equipment needed to connect the lens to the phone, the presentation and the marketing plan.

Teams will be competing through the weekend. Judges are national and international experts.  Winners in each category will be announced Wednesday, July 13.

The team is also looking to earn the People’s Choice Award in the World Finals. The team with the most “likes” by Tuesday will earn $10,000 regardless of how it places in the competition overall.

Even if LifeLens doesn’t win, the group won’t be disappointed. It is already in talks with venture groups that are interested in taking the invention to market, Gibeau said.

Medical teams in Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, West Africa and India have reached out to the team, as well, and LifeLens has been invited to the Information and Communication Technologies Africa Summit later this year to discuss its project with government and private sector delegates.