Student Stories Apr 03, 2015

There are certain things which seem only feasible in movie screens and books; things that are too good to be true, but which acquires no shape out of our dreams. Everybody would love their world change by the swipe of their fingers or a hint of their mind. Not only because they are “cool”, but they are becoming a necessity as modern technological advancements demand them. Still, the final gap is yet to be bridged and guess what… the anchors are already off! Intel took the step to popularize and develop next – gen solutions by their “Intel India Embedded Technology challenge – 2014” and PSG Techians have proven their stand once again in this arena. THE BRIDGE takes good pleasure in interviewing Mr. KARTHICK.C (Msc – Software Engineering, 2011-2016) and Mr.ABISHEK R.S (M.Sc – Software Engineering, 2011-2016) on their success in the challenge by their product-in-development “TESLA”.

What was the basic domain under which the challenge was taken? Was it wearable technology or was it general?

The idea started to take its shape last year, during the finalist phase of “Intel Perceptual Challenge”. We were given a perceptual camera that detects gestures using Image Processing and Depth Sensing Technology. Image Processing algorithms are generally complex and very CPU intensive. Moreover, you need to have a camera hooked up to the device to interact with it, curbing the user’s freedom to perform gestures. This pushed the need for remote gestures – the concept of performing gestures anywhere, anytime without a bulky camera around. This concept eliminates the use of image processing-based detection and we see it to be more efficient and simple than the existing methods of detection. We wanted to design a portable and affordable device that would be an integral part of people’s life; a day-to-day device that seamlessly interacts with the devices. So we decided to develop a ‘super watch’ that can detect gestures and manipulate appliances. Competing in the wearable computing category just happened, as we had this idea of a wearable device right before the challenge started.

Can you explain the working of the “Tesla”?

We used magnets to track the finger’s movement and the watch has sensors that can track the magnet’s movements. As magnetism is the core of this concept, we decided to name the watch Tesla. A tribute may be, for the great man he was.

How and from where did you get to know about this?

A friend of mine had sent me the link over Facebook, barely two days before the abstract submission deadline. We came up with the abstract quickly and submitted it just at the last hour.

What was the stint last year and how did you equip yourself for this year's challenge?

We were the finalists of Intel Perceptual Challenge last year. Both the competitions are totally different. Intel Embedded Challenge is more of building your very own device. We had to be proficient both in electronics as well as the software part of it. Since we are electronic hobbyists by virtue, it did not worry us much about equipping ourselves for it

Any prerequisites for participation?

No, there are no such requisites. 

Can you tell more about the Intel challenge?

The first phase was the ideation phase, where we had to submit a rough abstract of our idea. It was basically to check the feasibility of the idea. We were invited to refine our abstracts and submit a detailed proposal in the second phase. After the second phase, we were given Intel Galileo development boards to develop our prototype for the grand finale.

Whom did you compete with?

The competition saw many students and working professionals taking part from various parts of India. There were quite a few teams from IITs and NITs in the grand finale.

Can you brief on your experiences in “The Grand Finale"?

The grand finale took place at Bangalore. We had to present our prototype to a panel of juries that comprised of people from various fields like Academia, Venture capitalists and especially, the top brass of Intel Corporation. We were given a stall to display our prototype. The final decision was judged based on engineering goals, creative ability, clarity, knowledge, thoroughness and the potential of the idea to be converted into a business.

What is your action plan now?

Now that we have come up with the preliminary prototype, we have planned to iterate it further. If things go according to the plan, we will start rolling out Tesla Dev Kits in a year. 

How encouraging were the people from industry?

The experience was totally humbling. We met a lot of people from the industry, and their inputs on our product really opened our minds on various practical aspects that we have to cover. We met one of our alumni at the conclave. He gave us a lot of ideas on taking the prototype further. Their positive reviews and genuine encouragement strengthened our belief of Tesla becoming a success one day. We are sure that one day it will!

Finally, what are your thoughts on the phrase “Defy conventions; Embrace innovations“. Do you second these words?

Convention and innovation go hand in hand. Both are very critical for development in any field. Convention gives you the platform to take things to the next level. When that happens, we call it an innovation. Innovation helps in pushing the boundaries of possibilities. For us, embracing innovation is really the way forward for developing ingenious ideas into products. We should also remember that every conventional idea or a conventional method was once an innovation.

Adithan K

Along with Prenitha L

Adithan is a high-spirited reader and enthusiastic gamer, who enjoys occasional coding, out-of-the box thinking, and is awed by the very twisted fibre of nature and by the engineering environment.

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