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Young Indian Innovators in Technology

With the advent of the internet, the very concept of freedom is something that has undergone significant change. Concepts such as open source software, and copy-left licenses are certainly no invention of the internet, yet without it, their very model becomes infeasible. Today, most popular web sites, be it Wikipedia, Flickr, YouTube or even Twitter, are populated with user-generated content. Technology advances freedom and nurtures it. Your computer alone can be the source of information, entertainment, and even income. Yet, we are still constrained by the physical world we live in, and even the best internet connections cannot assuage a hostile government.

In August, this year, we celebrated the 62nd anniversary of our Independence Day. To commemorate this occasion, we decided to compile a list of some of India’s youngest innovators. Some of India’s brightest and youngest minds, who have unveiled innovations that are bound to influence the shape of things to come.

Our goal was to introduce to you (our readers), some of the brightest minds from this country and to garner your opinion on the most influential innovation.

No innovation is insignificant; in today’s world, the inventor of the socket is as responsible for our computers switching on, as the one who discovered the transistor. The smallest of innovations pile up today to create tomorrow’s world.

Here are some of the participants:

Anand Agarawala

As operating systems progress, we tend to see a move towards interfaces that emulate the real world. Anand’s software BumpTop takes it several steps forward in this regard, and turns your desktop into a realistic 3D physical-desktop-like environment.

We are used to interpreting the reality around us as physical objects, and by displaying objects inside your computer. BumpTop removes extraneous layers of interpretation. Objects on your BumpTop desktop obey similar rules of placement, and interaction, by allowing stacking of objects, and tossing documents to a printer, or USB drive; commonly used files can even grow in size, making them easier to find. Agarawala’s application, created as a Masters’ project, has even been presented at TED Talks and has significantly evolved ever since.

Farinaz Koushanfar

With rampant piracy brewing around us, it’s quite easy to duplicate software – with or without the internet. Yet, hardware piracy, although a lesser-known phenomenon, can be perhaps much more damaging. ICs could be used anywhere from innocent video players to high grade weapons.

Koushanfar’s technique uses a unique ID to lock each chip so that it cannot be used without either a redesign, or a code from the designer of the circuit, making hardware piracy a tough nut to crack. Her method uses inherent manufacturing imperfections, as a base for creating the unique code. Tiny deviations in the circuit, which have no effect on the device otherwise are encoded as a binary sequence (1s and 0s) and makes each IC unique.

Priti Ranadive

Even as the number of computing cores increase, software applications are slow to catch up. With dual and quad-core computers becoming commonplace, a lot of thought and effort needs to be put into designing a software to take full advantage of the performance increases which come with parallelism.

Ranadive’s tool enables software to keep up with the multi-core revolution. This automatic parallelization tool helps convert legacy source code to parallel code and exploit the advantages offered by multi-cores. Arguably, this tool’s best feature is that it requires little or no manual effort, and stands to offer great performance gains and reduce the execution time of the code. This can be successfully implemented in the field of bioinformatics in applications such as protein folding, weather prediction, mathematical simulations among others. Such fields stand to gain a lot by being optimized for parallel processing.

The young Indian innovator with the most innovative and influential creation is...

Pranav Mistry

This young innovator has already garnered much fame and attention around the world or “Sixth Sense” which he calls a “wearable gestural interface.”

Some of the most brilliant innovations we see today have to do with changing the way we interact with devices. As technology becomes a larger part of life, and gets a larger share of our income, it becomes even more important how we interact with technology, as we now do so more often.

In this respect, Sixth Sense takes a backwards approach. A previously mentioned innovation, BumpTop tries to mimic the way we interact with physical objects, making it easier for people to adjust to a computer interface. ‘Sixth Sense’ on the other hand turns your physical world into one large interactive entity, redefining not only the way we interact with technology, but with everything.

While technology has entered every field of our life, many tasks such as acquiring daily-use consumables, for example, still need to be done in person. While the internet may be teeming with the latest information, it’s often beyond reach. Whether you are shopping at a store, or on the way home, there are many times when the plentiful information on the internet can be of real use, but it’s just not available.

The ‘Sixth Sense’ device, aims to make everything you see around you an intractable interface. When you pick up a carton of milk at a store, it can tell you its fat content, and how well it’ll go with your diet, or when you pick up a book at the store, it will project its rating from Amazon, along with comments, and references. If you’re on vacation and need to snap a picture, you need not worry, just form the right gesture and it will take a photograph. Draw an ‘@’ symbol in the air and check your email. The best part is that the device would not cost much more than a mobile phone in the future.

In most demonstrations of amalgamated reality, we see artifacts superimposed and blended with the live world. Pranav’s vision takes augmentation to the world outside computers. We see many films depicting a future where every device is a computer embedded, where newspapers show flexible displays, and your retina is the key to your entire life. This vision in comparison is much more real. Why wrap every toilet paper in an OLED touch-screen when instead the gestures can be recognized by a computer with a camera? Why upgrade the world when you can upgrade yourself?

Some Other Indian Innovators

Trilokya and Champak BoraTransmitting music signals through normal house wiring.
Sudhakar Sah Effcient load-balancing of phases in 3-phase power supply units.
Mansukh Prajapati“Mitti Cool”, a refrigerator made entirely of clay.
Sendhil MullianathanA new model of economics based on consumer psychology.
Tanzeem ChoudhuryDevice for analysing an automatic social networking connection by recording and interpreting data from multiple sensors.
Sumeet SinghBetter heuristic detection of viruses based on how they spread.
Prithwish Basu Algorithms for decentralised (“ad hoc”) networks that can operate without the need for a base station.
Anurag DodFounder of first Indian crawler based search engine: guruji.com
Sanjit BiswasCheap Wi-Fi routers that can adjust to changing network environments forbest performance.
Prem SinghAutomated remote-controlled robot called “BSF Robot” that can help in search and rescue operations.
Tapan ParikhInformation services for small business owners that are centred around mobile phones instead of computers.
Krishnan Kutty Solutions to make driving safer using multiple sensors.
Vijay KrishnanFounder of Infoaxe, a web memory search engine that allows you to make your web browsing history (and thus your habits) accessible and searchable across computers.
Sundar Iyer Cheaper and better caching solutions for routers.
Anand RaghunathanA mobile security co-processor to make data and communication on mobile phones safer.
Harimohan and Manoj Saini Optimised car designs eliminating differential gears by adding a fifth wheel.
Ashok MaliakalNext generation, low-powered fexible displays.
Master Moxad Pinakin ThakerModel for utilising waste sewage for useful purposes such as generating electricity.
Shetal ShahSafer ambulances and military transport vehicles for people with head trauma.
T. Sony RoyCheque authentication system using ‘inkless’ fngerprint; ErPaper, erasable and reusable paper; Cool imager, instant photograph development device for use in photo-vending machines.
Suhas V. Shinde A novel new architecture of delay line resulting in 95 per cent power saving and 65 per cent area saving.