Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Imparting education via Tablets - A Live Experiment Report

The "One Laptop Per Child" program from Negroponteis engaged in some interesting work in Ethiopia where they are distributing tablets to kids without providing them any instruction on how to use them or what they are for.

What's interesting is the speed at which illiterate kids are picking up not just pieces of learning as know to the civilised world but also picking up and even hacking into technology....

Read the full story here as posted by one of my MBA professors, Shlomo Maital
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Monday, October 08, 2012

India joins the Data Democratization bandwagon

Heard of Data Democratization? Well, you might not want to dismiss it as another of the fancy terms geeks keep inventing. It is here to stay and is expanding as you read this post. 

Data Democratization was a term invented to signify the opening up of huge datasets owned by corporations and governments and making the data available to the general public. The public could leverage this data via apps, thesis reports and help contribute to improving the quality of the data and also help bring innovative services that the rest of the public could make use of. The benefits of opening  up of data or "democratizing data" is evident at GapMinder where professor Hans Rosling has used world data made available to general public by United Nations and sister concerns to provide interactive charts that help reveal interesting trends

In this age of tablets, smartphone that have made information at fingertips a reality, the power of harnessing the collective mind of the crowd can pay rich dividends to whoever decides to make their data sets available for public consumption and contribution. US has been on the forefront of this wave and have till date democratized 22 data sets. 

Here comes the exciting part. Indian government too has bitten the bullet with the opening up of their new website Still in its infancy, the government has already uploaded sample datasets from the MNREGA, AICTE,National Transport Registry and even list of Allopathic hospitals across the nation. It also has a sample app of the Bhuvan project, ISRO's attempt at providing something similar to Google maps.

What remains to be seen is how this data will start getting consumed. Akin to how BMTC (Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation) has democratized data which helps Google provide transit services app for Bangaloreans or akin to how Climate Corporation in USA analyses land and weather data made available to public by the US government to decide the insurance premium payable by farmers based on their locations.
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Sunday, October 07, 2012

The Technology awash Formula 1 Car Racing Sport

The second edition of the Indian Grand Prix (Formula 1 Racing) is due this October 26-28. TV ads are increasing in frequency and so is the buzz around the second race to be held at the Buddh International Circuit, New Delhi.

A causal conversation with friends led to a debate on which sport leverages technology to the maximum. Formula 1 racing pipped the rest to the top. This led me to do a quick check on the facts. 

Formula 1 racing uses almost every advance that technology provides. 
  1. Typically about 20 races are held in a year and the remaining time is spent by the F1 teams in trying to improve every small aspect of the racing machine to provide incremental boost to the driver
  2. Aerodynamics of the Formula 1 racing car is the #1 area of focus. Supercomputers for Computational Fluid Dynamics simulation that replace wind tunnels and help the R&D teams to study changes to a car's stability, speed and maneuverability resulting from changes to the design. These supercomputers pack the processing power equivalent to 40,000 modern day PCs - about 40 tera flops of processing power. There is also an upper limit that is set by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) governing body.About 40% of a R&D team typically is focused on this single area.
  3. There are close to 100-150 sensors embedded across the car's body which pump out telemetry data during a race continually to the pit crew. The pit crew is a full-time staff of half a dozen engineers and mathematicians devoted to analyzing the right combination of fuel load and tire changes and when and how many pit stops to make during a race. They use the telemetry data to analyze car performance and relay feedback to the driver.
  4. Simulation is also used to design the F1 track. Computers are extensively used to understand and simulate the kind of G-Forces experienced by drivers during the turns and bends and keep these forces within sport's regulations.

Here's a video that shows more for the tech fanatic in you....

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