“Advancements in technology generally evokes a range of emotions in people from all walks of life. Some view technology as an evil that slowly diminishes our humanity, while others view it as a way to bring the world closer together and to help solve some of our greatest challenges.”
In a city like Bangalore, brazen road sense and severe bottle neck traffic are not alien concepts. But, if you’ve been cribbing about having to endure the lackadaisical approach of your driver, here’s some respite coming your way — especially if the man on the driver’s seat needs to be wary of not dozing off enroute.
The stereotypical perception about college goers is known to all. Breaking such stereotypes are four final year engineering students from PES Institute of Technology, Bangalore who are proud entrepreneurs of an Artificial Intelligence based company called VISIO.AI. They have created a system called ‘Driver Distraction Alert System’ which maybe an economical solution to reduce the number of road accidents happening presently.
Student Stories got candid with one of the co-founder, Mr. Saahil Kamath and discussed about how they balance work and college and about their pioneering invention.
Saahil Kamath for Student Stories :
1) Saahil, it’s great having you with us, tell us more about you ?
Hi! I am Saahil Kamath, 21 years of age, majoring in electronics and communication and minoring in computer science at PESIT University, Bangalore. My interests are basically Computer Vision and Machine Learning. Other than that I also play guitar and compose music in my free time.
2) Your start-up VISIO.AI started in less than 3 months. What were the challenges you faced?
VISIO.AI is the result of the hard work and will power of a four member team including myself, Aviral Joshi, Rahul B Prakash and Akshay Kumar. We happened to meet at an internship in IISC ( Indian Institue of Science ) where we all worked together on a project. We had similar interests in fields of Computer Vision, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence and hence we came together and co-founded VISIO.AI. Common interest of ours was the reason for the birth of VISIO.AI.
3) How does the device work?
Backbone of the Driver Distraction Alert System is a deep neural network that reads and recognizes the face of the driver and decides whether he is sleepy or not. It also decides where the driver is looking and statistically decides whether the driver is paying attention or not and alerts the driver accordingly. The drowsiness alert system in high end cars cost around 40,000 rupees, while the one which we have designed comes around 10,000 rupees. We are planning to approach cab aggregators asking them to install such devices in their cabs.
4) The device also acts as an attendance tracker. Highlight on this part of the deal.
The device can recognize the driver and hence act as an attendance tracker. It can tell when the driver entered and left the car and also if the driver swapped in between. Our target was minimum resources and to make this product available for all. Real time data on those boarding the cab can reach the user.
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5) Does studying and managing a start-up simultaneously tire you up ?
I try my best to keep an open mind and concentrate in class so that I can understand the subjects on the go. I go to the office right after the college finishes and try to work till night and sometimes( almost everyday) take work home and work late at night. I am blessed to have a wonderful team beside me so the work gets easily distributed.
6) Tell us more about your startup and your project ?
Fitted with a camera in the car, the device is tuned to read human faces and the activities such as blinking of the eye and yawning. The person’s eye movement is recognized besides the number of times he yawns before sending the alerts. “The cut-off time for a person to blink his eye is 1.5 seconds. If a driver has his eyes shut for more than that, alerts would be sent. The same happens even if he yawns more than three times,” says Kamath.
The camera reads the person’s face following which data is encrypted and sent to a server. In response, if the driver is drowsy, the device sends vibrations to the steering wheel or beeps to keep the driver awake. The drowsiness alert systems that are available in the market only make assessments based on the way the car drifts but need not necessarily provide accurate data and our system delivers accuracy as well. The ‘Driver drowsiness detection’ device has an added advantage. With an ability to recognize faces, this system could also be used in school buses to track the attendance of students.
7) What are the other projects that you are working now on ?
Apart from the ‘Driver Distraction Alert System’ we have multiple projects constantly running in parallel. Some of them include:
- Face Recognition Attendance System.
- Automatic Number Plate Recognition System, which will be used in malls, oﬃces etc.
- Visitor Enhancement System: using AI we can tag the visitor and give useful statistics about the guest.
- Malicious Object Detection System: for public places like metros, railway, airports.
- Airport Person-Baggage tagging using AI.
- Driver enhancement module: this can help the driver improve his driving by using the statistics provided by our AI algorithm.
- Crowd Density Estimation and statistics: used presently for disaster management system.
The above mentioned are only some of the R&D projects which we are allowed to speak about.
8) Where do you guys see yourself as a company in the next 5 years ?
What we do at VISIO.AI is futuristic and new, if the idea is not new the approach is new, if the approach is not new the technique is new and that’s the beauty of artiﬁcial intelligence. Its all about targeting the right question and targeting the right approach to solve that question and I strongly believe we are doing that. We are targeting at augmenting the human life and amplifying the human skills. We collectively strongly believe that AI is the future. We see ourselves well established and doing something that is actually worthwhile and earn a good name in the AI ﬁeld.
9) What would be that one advice you would like to give to the other aspiring students like you ?
Saahil says, “Do what you love so you love what you do. At the end of the day satisfaction of a good day’s work is more beautiful”. Do not settle to work on something you don’t love. Your focus will determine your reality so focus on things that matter to you the most and work hard in making that your reality. Life without challenges is a boring one. If you have an idea in your mind, make it happen regardless of challenges that come.
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