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Young entrepreneurs give shape to futuristic projects

S.Anandan
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Sreekumar K.R. and his friends, Nijad Y. and Nidal Rashid — all alumni of the Cochin University of Science and Technology — were mulling a time-consuming software innovation when life changed for good after they landed up at the Startup Village in Kalamassery.

“We got a refined sense of direction after we came here and turned to hardware innovation. Infosys’ Kris Gopalakrishnan, the Chief Mentor of the village, put us on to Infilab’s Raghuvir, who visited us, pumping in a lot of enthusiasm and motivation in the team,” says Mr. Sreekumar, now co-founder and chief operating officer of ‘Mashinga’ (www.mashinga.com), a relatively new start-up working in the area of multi-touch surface computing.

“Our project got the much-needed fillip after it was presented at the Emerging Kerala investor meet. There were over 70 enquires about the surface computing platform that we developed,” he says, explaining the features of their broad table-top multi-touch system.

Easy to customise for various applications and industries, the system will be of immense use in the hospitality industry, he says. “A vehicle showroom, for instance, may not have all variants of a particular car on display. But using the multi-touch screen the customers will be able to understand all about the variant he’s on the look out for. It can also be connected online for various applications depending on the need,” he maintains. The team is on the threshold of commercialising the product.

However, an upgraded version of this, with a built-in camera behind the surface to make the system interactive, is currently under development.

Asimov (Advanced System with Intelligence Mobility and Vision) Robotics is a company based in Kakkanad which is thinking of shifting base to the Startup Village. A venture floated by a seven-member team led by Jayakrishnan T., its chief executive officer, the motive behind the move is to have more working space, get some relief from excessive import duty on raw material and to earn some funding support for their project oriented towards making a social robot.

The founders of the firm (www.asimovrobotics.com) were earlier working in an American company from where they got wind of the numerous possibilities of interactive social robotics. Just about six months short of realising a full-scale social robot that can be programmed to perform guidance assistance, surveillance, security, advertisements and entertainments in shopping malls, supermarkets, airports, hospitals, banking halls and homes, the team has already fashioned a humanoid, which is capable of automatic mobile manipulation as well as human interaction through speech and gesture recognition and communication using simple phrases or with change in facial expressions (through animatronics).

The 5-ft-tall robot that welcomed Chief Minister Oommen Chandy with a bouquet as he turned up for the inauguration of a new building for Startup Village on Friday featured hands in human configuration, with seven joints in each arm.

“With a robotic torso featuring omni-directional wheeled locomotion, ultra sonic sensors, proximity detectors and face/load sensors, the robot can be customised for executing a host of actions. It also has an advanced 3D vision system with head-mounted cameras and an interactive touch screen on its chest,” says Mr. Jayakrishnan.

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