jump to navigation

Techfest 2008 at IIT Mumbai…Dream On ! February 3, 2008

Posted by razasayed in general.

Recently i was at Techfest 2008 , the annual technical extravaganza held at IIT Mumbai. This was the 2nd time i visited this event , the first time i visited it was during my undergrad days . IIT Mumbai is one of the top schools for technology in the world , and Techfest is a student-organized technical showcase . If you want to find out whats brewing in the world of technology at campuses located all over India and even elsewhere , then Techfest is the place to be.

The theme this year was ‘Dream On’. It was a three day event which saw participation from students,professionals from all over India and also residents of the region who turned up to see whats new in the world of technology. Among other events there was a tech exhibition called “Breakthroughs” which as the name suggests showcased the recent breakthroughs in science and technology . The exhibits ranged from new and colour-changing pigments which have a wide range of applications, from security marking on banknotes to reduction of global warming’s effects and to “weapons of math construction”.

Weapons of Math Construction

Weapons of Math Construction

“Imagine writing a calculation down on paper and the paper magically working out the answers,” said Will Thimbleby, department of computer science, University of Swansea. “We have built a calculator that works like this, which is ideal for pen-based computers and interactive whiteboards in classrooms. It recognizes your handwriting and you write naturally.” This looks straight out of science fiction but now its for real ! . I myself tried it out and it works like a charm. It even automatically corrects you in case you “write” something incorrect !. Like when i wrote 1 = 2 , the device automatically corrected it to 1 + 1 = 2 ! . So much for technology ! . Harry Potter must be proud ! 🙂


The Shadow Hand

A huge draw at the exhibition was also the “shadow hand”, the robot hand that’s closest to the human hand. Remote systems using the technology will allow an operator to work in inaccessible or hazardous areas. A big crowd of onlookers had gathered around this one but i still managed to have a handshake . It really felt like touching the future !! 🙂 .

Apart from the exhibits i got to participate in hands on workshops ranging from securing web applications, which was a day long workshop on techniques hackers (crackers if you prefer ) employ for exploiting or gaining unauthorized access to banking websites , blogs , social networking websites etc for which i was one of the candidates selected after an online screening process, to a short open to all workshop on reverse engineering executables and another one on solving the Rubik’s cube .

Blaise Arcas

Blaise Aguera Arcas (Architect , Microsoft Live Labs . Architected Seadragon and Photosynth.)

I also got a chance to attend a lecture by Blaise Aguera Arcas the Architect of Microsoft Live Labs on two groundbreaking technologies , Seadragon and Photosynth which are about how we and our computers mutually produce, consume and interact with visual information . It was a truly marvellous presentation which had to be seen to be believed. Also, attended talks by other luminaries like Mr. Kannan Pashupathy , the Director of International Engineering operations at Google and Professor Harold Thimbleby, Professor of Computer Science at Swansea University.

John Maddog Hall

John Maddog Hall (Executive Director of Linux International) and OpenMoko (The Open Source Mobile Platform)

Then there was an exciting panel discussion of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) that included two veteran FOSS Evangelists from India, Venkatesh Hariharah (head of Open Source Affairs at Red Hat) and Atul Chitnis (best known for his wide range of technology knowledge in general, and his fierce support of Free and Open Source Software) and John Maddog Hall (Executive Director of Linux International). This discussion informed the audience about the concept of FOSS and the challenges currently facing the open source community and many other exciting topics. All in all a very enlightening event. John Maddog Hall also spoke about the open source mobile platform OpenMoko which is being hailed as the open source communities answer to Apple’s iPhone.


Also, there was the “BarCamp”which was a newly introduced event at Techfest this year . For those of you not familiar with “BarCamp”, it bills itself as the “un-conference”. People show up, determine what the topics of conversation will be, and people make presentations and lead discussions. I got to see an interesting talk on Mobile FOSS technology by Atul Chitnis and an interesting talk on the topic of using robots for creating “immortality” by a “13 year old” !! . After the event got over i spoke to this boy from “7th standard” personally and he said that they are working on a subject called “Cybernetics” which i bet not even many adults have heard of . With talent like this shaping up , India is definitely poised to have a prominent position on the global map .

Jimmy Wales

Jimmy Wales (Founder Of Wikipedia)

Finally after three exciting and eventful days Techfest 2008 came to a graceful end with a lecture by Jimmy Wales , the founder of Wikipedia . In his talk Jimmy Wales spoke about the origins of Wikipedia , the motivations behind its development and the current challenges facing it . He explained why Wikipedia is referred to as “The Sum Of All Human Knowledge” . He also spoke about Wikia Search , which is being touted as the challenge to Google . After his talk he fielded questions from the audience . Among the questions was one which talked about Google Knol, and whether he thinks Knol would offer competition to Wikipedia . In response to this one Jimmy Wales said that there wont be any competition between the two because despite the apparent similarity both are entirely different concepts . But personally i feel that since Knol hasnt been released to the public yet we cant have a conclusive say on this one, so i think only time will tell.

Anyways,I came back home with fond memories of Techfest 2008 . It was truly an enriching and exciting experience for me so heres looking forward to Techfest 2009 ! 🙂

Happy Hacking & Dream On ! .



No comments yet — be the first.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: