Rendezvous with KPIT Sparkle 2018 Gold Winner Team Smartgear

Rendezvous with KPIT Sparkle 2018 Gold Winner Team Smartgear
Rendezvous with KPIT Sparkle 2018 Gold Winner Team Smartgear

Global technology provider KPIT Technologies had conducted the fourth Sparkle 2018 national design and development innovation contest for engineering and science students. KPIT Sparkle is a yearly initiative by the company’s Innovation Council that focuses on driving innovation within and outside the organisation.

KPIT Sparkle 2018 invited students to develop next-generation technologies on the theme of ‘Next Generation Energy and Transportation Solutions,’ to make products cleaner, safer and easy-to-use in the energy and transportation sectors. Students were expected to provide prototypes applying artificial intelligence (AI), new materials and cyber security.

Interestingly, the top Platinum Award was won by a single-member team (Team Electrodes) from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, with a solution that was not automotive-focussed alone. The second-placed gold award was won by Team Smartgear, representing Sahyadri College of Engineering and Management, Mangalore. This team exhibited a prototype of a smart helmet for motorcycles that sends out accident alerts along with location sharing to emergency contact lists saved in an app.

Excerpts from an email interview with Team Smartgear:

ATR _ How has an event like KPIT Sparkle encouraged your team to come up with an innovation such as the Smart Helmet?

TEAM SPARTGEAR _ The theme of KPIT Sparkle 2018 to develop next-generation technologies by applying AI, new materials, and cyber security was kept in mind while we worked on solving problems related to safety and convenience that Indian riders usually face while riding two-wheelers. Hence, we came up with the thought of developing a Smart Helmet that sends out accident alerts along with details of the location to emergency contact lists saved in an app.

Could you provide more details about the Smart Helmet product?

The Smart Helmet is an innovation that addresses the needs of modern Indian riders. It has Bluetooth integrated to the helmet that allows riders to listen to music and answer incoming calls. The place of the accident site is automatically sent to emergency services and the family, in case of an accident. The helmet is designed in such a way that it also complies with the Indian road safety standards. It also has a feature that enables the rider to listen to the ambient noise such as traffic signals and sounds from other vehicles along with the music playing on the smartphone. In case of an incoming call to the rider, the helmet intimates the rider about the call and only when the rider halts, the helmet connects the call – thus preventing the hassle of removing the helmet and phone from the pocket. Eventually, this also prevents risks of using mobile phones while riding. All these features are controlled and monitored by the custom smartphone application.

What are some of the steps taken in scaling up the product for a market launch?

We have made the electronics robust, reliable, compact, and weatherproof. The Smart Helmet only has a basic Android application, which is being improved both in terms of user interface and user experience. Additionally, we are working on building the iOS application so that it is supported on Apple devices. Further, we would look for collaboration with helmet manufacturers to incorporate our technology.

What is your view on the current gap between the education system and actual requirements from the industry?

The present education system does not deal with current technologies but rather focuses on old and outdated ones. Although such a curriculum is necessary to strengthen the fundamental concepts and the basics, we believe that it is equally important for students to learn about the new concepts as well. This will help students become industry-ready once they graduate and enter the workforce.

What kind of academia-industry connect is necessary to bridge relations that would lead to industry-ready and technology-ready graduates from the engineering/technical arena?

There is an urgent need for the Indian industries and academia to come together and address some of the underlying challenges. These include alignment of curriculum with the industry requirements; emphasis on skill-based education; and exposure to the workplace through internships, live projects, and corporate interactions.

In addition to only focusing on the curriculum structure, it is imperative to provide the right exposure and training to the faculty. Most of the faculty do not possess the requisite industry experience, which comes in the way of imparting practical knowledge. It would also be helpful if the faculty can regularly undertake short industrial projects in collaboration with industry experts. We believe that at the same time, employers should come forward to work exclusively with the academicians to create and develop a shared model for jobs and curriculum to address the specific requirements of the industry.