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Tech tricks to save the world

They are young and are coming together to find solutions through technology to solve the world’s problems

education Updated: May 08, 2012 13:51 IST
Garima Upadhyay Rawat

Would you give up lucrative offers from brands like Amazon and Microsoft to work for the welfare of children with dyslexia? Yes, if you are like BIT Mesra student Devesh Kumar. “Giving up on placement offers from big brands was not difficult as I had set my priorities right. I started building this idea in the third year of college and by the end of my engineering, knew that I have to take it forward. Convincing my folks was time consuming, but once that was done, there was no looking back.”

Probably, it was this clarity of thought and dedication, which won Kumar the Imagine Cup 2012. “As my project had social leanings and enough potential, I registered it for the Cup. Winning the national finals has added fuel to the fire.”

Kumar recognised the problem of dyslexic students while working with some kids at AID (http://aidpatna.blogspot.com). “Dyslexia is unique for every individual and leads to severe problems. Some students had issues recognising alphabets and representing them, while others had different problems altogether. There was a burning desire in me to get things right for these kids, which inspired me to work for their cause.”

So, how does his project help kids with dyslexia? “D-Labs uses interesting software like Microsoft Kinect, Silverlight and Azure to create engaging and interactive games that help tutors to understand the behavioral patterns of kids and accordingly assist them in alphabet identification, movement recognition and so on. Kids really enjoy these games and have benefited out of it as well,” he adds.

About Imagine Cup
The Imagine Cup 2012, an annual competition organised by Microsoft, brought together some very interesting student projects on some of the major issues facing the world.
“The cup is a technology competition, which provides an opportunity for students to use their creativity, passion and knowledge of technology to help solve global challenges and make a difference in the world. While competing for prizes, students learn new skills and make new friends,” says Mark D’Souza, director – student programmes at Microsoft India

Meet the tech titans and learn more about their projects

Team 1: Jeevan
One look at the team members and you are reminded of the movie 3 idiots. The movie’s central idea, do what you feel for, and success will follow, is being lived by the team Jeevan. It all started when Kundan Singh, a student of BITS Pilani, observed that no one in his village was aware of an impending water crisis. Noticing similar issues in other cities, towns and villages, he thought about creating a platform, which could assist people in controlling water consumption. “For the same, I brought on board likeminded people and team Jeevan was born. Our project aims at promoting water harvesting practices. Besides, the project also checks undue wastage by any human carelessness,” he says.

Team 2: Conjurers
This Kanpur-based team has developed an interface to make technology accessible to all. Says Rabi Shanker Guha, a student of IIT Kanpur, “I have observed that most software solutions rely on keyboard /mouse interface for interaction, thus rendering it useless for people without limbs. This laid the foundation of my project.”

Ask him how his project makes it possible for all to access technology and he says, “The hands-free interface aims to solve the problem of dexterity by providing an accessibility tool emulating keyboard and mouse behavior for people who don’t have limb(s) but still want to explore technology,” he says.

Team 3: KinectoTherapy
It was while researching on educational games that this team stumbled upon their idea. Yash Soni, a student at Dhirubhai Ambani Engineering College, says, “The games and applications shown in the video were those that come with the commercial Xbox. It was the patients’ reactions (at Berkshire Hospital) that led us to this idea of developing a suitable motion sensing rehabilitation tool. Our project has various games that make you use your body movements to enhance degree of shoulder abduction, increase balance and coordination while walking, improve hand-eye coordination, and space coordination through suitable interactive games. A set of instructions is to be followed in each game and if a patient fails to do so, he is immediately given feedback on the wrong move.”

Team 4: Innovative Thinkers
Great ideas can strike you anywhere. Members of this team from Tamil Nadu “Were having tea in the evening at a café. Just then, a stranger came and spoke to the server who lacked the power of speech. As expected, both parties could not communicate. It was then that we decided to create an assistive tool for the mute to communicate with the rest of the world using technology as a tool, says Subramanian Muthukrishnan, an engineering student.

They have designed a software system, which can act as a middleware between deaf/mute and the world. They aim is to provide a solution that understands sign language and provides an equivalent text or speech that helps the disabled communicate.

Team 5: The D-Labs
It was the sheer desire to help dyslexic students study that led this Patna-based team to develop a software called The D Labs. “The software is aimed at enhancing the learning abilities of school students suffering from dyslexia. The device records minute details about the child’s activities and then creates solutions bespoke to the needs of the students, and orients games and exercises to address those needs,” informs Devesh Kumar.

Team 6: Poseidon
During her interactions with villagers, Anubhuti Bhardwaj, an MBBS student, realised the importance of water in their life. Later, she discussed it with her friends and team Posedion was born. Talking about the software, Anubhav Bhardwaj says, “Jal is aimed at real time water usage monitoring and helping households determine the exact water usage and manage available water resources. The system also targets promoting water harvesting practices. Besides that the system also checks the undue wastage of water by any human carelessness.”

Team 7: The Imaginary
Highly energetic, this team is passionate about engineering and all that they can do with it. “Information age is passé, what awaits us is the App Age,” says Mihir Sathe, an engineering student. Even his project is about developing an application that can make it easier for you to track your health quotient. He says, “My father is a doctor, so ever since childhood, I have been educated towards maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, people consider going to a doctor only when the problem becomes grave. This behavioral pattern sparked the idea of creating a doctor on the move. Our healthcare system uses data mining (over the data obtained) to predict potential health problems of all its users based on multiple factors such as age, gender etc.