A report from the national level winner for Innovative Science Model
It was indeed very exciting when my son Ujwal called me from Hyderabad that he has been selected for national level under Innovative Science Model category for Vidya Bharathi. When our Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked kids to save electricity at home, the thought of leveraging Smart Home to save electricity was brewing in Ujwal’s mind.
Saving electricity via Smart Home is not a new thought, but we started exploring what scenarios can maximize the benefits. A little more study told us that many while going on vacation turn on the lights at home for safety and it consumes electricity all day and night. Using Arduino and SIM 908 he built a Smart Home with "vacation mode" capabilities where the lights turn on automatically when it is dark. This system controls multiple lights to simulate someone at home.
A quick summary of ideas from start-ups
In September last year I visited TechHub at its new office in Bangalore. Back then they were only a couple of months old. I didn't get to know much about the sort of start-ups being incubated in their premises. So I took the opportunity to attend Demo Day yesterday to see how far these start-ups have come. The public are welcome to attend these events provided they register in advance and get a confirmation.
Another good thing about Demo Day is that start-ups who are not incubated at TechHub are also welcome. Anyone can request for a slot to showcase their products and services. After all, it's a connected world and the entrepreneurial world should be a connected community. We need to have more such events were ideas can be openly presented. One idea can trigger ten others.
Graduating start-ups from Microsoft Ventures Accelerator Programme
Yesterday I attended Think Next & Demo Day, organized by Microsoft Ventures. This was the culmination of many weeks of intense mentorship and acceleration from which 11 teams graduated. Microsoft Ventures has been doing this for a few years. These accelerator programmes and Demo Days are being held in 7 cities across the globe and Bangalore is one of the venues.
The focus of Microsoft is to get involved in early stage start-ups. Rather than just giving these start-ups money, they believe that something more should be given to achieve success. So they empower start-ups with free tools. They provide technical and business mentorship. They connect them with Microsoft's partners and industry players. In a sense, it is closing the loop, end to end, from ideation to customer acquisition, from implementation to scaling up.
@ Bangalore Sequoia::Hack 2014
It's been a crazy busy weekend but I was not the only crazy one out there: about four hundred of us in about 130 teams working on problems and coming out with unique solutions in just 24 hours. Lots of coffee and energy drinks. Sleep is for the lazy. Brainstorming, coding, debugging. These kept us awake all through Saturday night.
The hackathon was organized by Sequoia Capital at ITC Gardenia, Bangalore. There were about a dozen tracks from analytics to healthcare, from gaming to machine learning. The crowd was young and enthusiastic. The event saw a wealth of ideas, some of which made it to the finals and took home handsome cash prizes.
Students can build even without in-depth theory
Many weeks ago, we featured on IEDF a competition named Engineering Infinite 2014. Over this weekend, the competition entered its final days of reckoning. As part of Elecrama 2014 held at Bangalore, students from various colleges across the country displayed their projects. I visited the exhibition two days ago and spotted more than fifty projects on display. I am told the judges had a tough time picking out the winners.
Winners would have been announced yesterday morning and if someone is maintaining the Facebook page, their names would appear there. In the end, all students who participated are winners. The reason is simple. When most of engineering education is focused on theory and formal examinations, an event like this can spark curiosity and build essential engineering skills. An event like this can create interest in a subject often perceived as tough, mathematical and even boring.
Results of the Google Impact Challenge
It will take a lot more than ten projects to save India but it's a welcome start. When the government has failed to address basic issues that affects millions, we have to turn elsewhere to look for solutions. NGOs come in to fill the void.
Back in August this year, Google invited India's NGOs to submit proposals that could make a positive impact on the lives of millions. The best of them will receive funding to scale up and make their dreams a reality. Google received thousands of proposals. I am sure it has not been an easy task to select the best of them. Ten of them made it to the finals.
Insights from the DOE Solar Decathlon 2013
Barely a week ago, on a warm Saturday morning in Irvine, California, the results of the 10-day competition were finally announced. Among the 20 university teams that took part in this year's offering of the Solar Decathlon organized by the U.S. Department of Energy, only two teams were from across the Atlantic. It turned out that one of the visitors beat the rest of the crowd to take home the winning prize. The other from the Czech Republic came third.
Each team built a solar home, a project that probably took two years from concept to completion. The homes run only on solar power. All homes are connected to a microgrid. Excess power goes into a utility grid and can be used by the wider community. One of the event's key sponsors, Schneider Electric, noted that the homes produced 6,208 kWh in all and consumed only 4,159 kWh.