Friday, May 2, 2014
SV PhD team gets special recognition at wearable tech hackathon
With so many new connected devices available on the market, from smart watches and sensors to health and fitness monitors, a whole new area is opening up in the tech industry — with lots of opportunity for development and innovation. That was enough to get Srikanth Kallakuri and Akshay Chandrashekaran, both Ph.D. students in the ECE program, to form a team for the NestGSV and AT&T Wearables Hackathon at the NestGSV's Redwood city technology innovation center.
Teams were challenged to explore new ways to use wearable technology and build prototype apps in the usual 24 hour hackathon timeline. The SV hackers teamed up on a project for Android-driven wearables, using an open-source Optical Character Recognition (OCR) engine called Tesseract to allow the devices to read aloud any text captured by the camera. Their work caught the eye of a representative for Vuzix, maker of M100 Smart Glasses, an Android-based wearable device with a small projected screen, camera, microphone and speaker.
Nest even captured "Team OCR" at work (wearing Carnegie Mellon gear, of course):
Kallakuri's audio processing research with Prof. Ian Lane means he sees a lot of possibility in how to combine images, text and speech to help users. The next step, he says, would be adding a translation layer — allowing the device to scan and recognize text in another language, feed it through another app and speak it back to the user in their native language. Even in preliminary stages, though, the app was impressive enough to earn them a special prize from Vuzix, their own pair of smart glasses.