Techfest 2014 at IIT Bombay
I thoroughly enjoyed various lectures, exhibits at Techfest at IIT Bombay, Powai. Among them, I found the following 3 noteworthy.
Asa Dotzler on Mozilla’s mobile OS
Asa started by describing how Mozilla has commonness with Techfest, being both volunteer-driven and been running for 17 years and growing, which is hard for volunteer-run efforts! Mozilla is a not-for-profit organization promoting original values of internet and acts as balancer between commercial interests on one hand and other facets like civil, political activism, free information on the other.
Internet had its heart inter-operability from start by its fore-fathers like Tim Berners Lee in 1980’s. It led to development of online community, political activism, educational curriculum for all. In 2000’s, when millions of user began using proprietary browser like Internet Explorer over Netscape Navigator, it was leading to monopolization of consumer’s browser experience. While IE 6 was reasonably solid, it had a problem, that it was proprietary, so Mozilla’s small, but driven team (pictured above) started building Firefox. It became better than IE soon in 2003, but the challenge of marketing it came to them. They did not have the advantage of bundling it with OS bought by majority of users. They turned back to users and asked suggestions and volunteers for spreading Firefox. Spread Firefox was like open-source marketing of the product, basically first few power users would convince other slightly non-technical users and so on. Volunteers pooled in money, design and their heart to do a paper ad in none other than New York Times. Volunteers kept on surprising – they did a huge Firefox symbol in farm field in Oregon. Firefox kept getting bigger and bigger market share and acted as catalyst for extension, even for better browsers. Chrome, Safari came up and it was no longer a monopolistic control of consumer’s browser experience.
Now, same kind of control over consumer’s mobile experience is being by few big companies, so they decided to do a mobile OS now. Their idea is for a smartphone to be available for $80, because that is the price point, where next 2B users will come out now. They are not targeting high-end smartphones, because that market is well served by likes of Apple and Samsung. Vishwanathan Krishnamoorthy joined Asa on the stage for Q&A. They told how to become volunteer by going to Mozilla site, maybe joining Bugzilla or whatever suits your skill and interest. They said that if anyone of us wanted to make contribution, which would affect 1/2 Billion users, we should volunteer for them.
4G launch by Reliance Jio
RJIL’s President for Strategy and Products, Mathew Oommen introduced 4G services of Reliance Jio. I saw a demo of Jio TV with recording, video on demand and other features, which was at par with modern satellite TV services. There was also a healthcare demo, which I could not catch up. They did tease us with many more services:
- Education – remote education, virtual classroom, online assessment
- Entertainment – Shows and TV content, Pause and play content
- Healthcare – remote services
Social Robot BINA 48
Here’s BINA sitting at IIT Bombay, who is the world’s most advanced social robot to talk to.
I am embedding Youtube video of the same robot from a US channel, as I could not get a recording of the same.
All in all, it was a great fest on technology, science and innovation, a must-see for college students and even inquisitive adults. Last year, I had attended a lecture by Facebook Product Manager on Newsfeed and learnt immensely from it.