Thiruvananthapuram: How about having a virtual feel of walking on the moon? Wouldn’t it help save the fast-shrinking forest cover from further destruction if we have a system that instantly warns the guards of wildfires? What about a website that gives you information of various kinds of mosquitoes that spread diseases?

No. These are not just figments of imagination but workable projects showcased at the International SpaceApps Challenge, one of world’s major problem-solving and open innovation competitions held annually by the US space agency NASA, hosted here by the KeralaStartup Mission (KSUM) at its Future Lab at Technopark here, along with multiple locations across the globe.

The three projects emerged as the prize winners from among 12 teams that competed at the three-day event that concluded today, each of them getting Rs 10,000. The prize winning teams were “VR Explorers”, “Brogrammers” and “Lazy Company”.

Tie a small device on one of your legs and you will get the feel of walking on the moon and know a lot of details of the craters etc. The application was developed by “VR Explorers” team comprising Urja Solanki and Akhil Guthula of the TCS incubation Lab. “ This can give you the experience of walking on the surface of the moon and is also educative”, they said.

Ravaging wildfires are a serious problem for forest managers world over, aggravated by the time lag of three to four hours in reporting. The crowd sourcing based programme developed by a four-member team from College of Engineering Thiruvananthapuram (CET) showed that wildfires could be tracked, visualised and reported without delay, so that the damage could be reduced sharply. The programme was the result of hard and combined work by Nandu Krishnan MG, Amrith M, Muhammad Bilal A and Albin Antony from CET.

Another team from CET, which chooses to call themselves as Lazy Company, has designed a Machine Learning based website to create parameters to determine the genes of various kinds of mosquitoes that spread diseases. The team consisted of Hari Nair S, Harisanakar R, Abhjit Nandagopal and Chitra Parameswaran.

“This could be of help to travellers to take necessary precautions to protect themselves from the diseases spread by various kinds of mosquitoes that commonly frequent the place they plan to go”, the team members said.

Since its inception in 2012, the Space Apps Challenge has become the world’s largest global hackathons with thousands of citizens across the globe having worked with NASA data and products to build innovative solutions to challenges on Earth and in space.

These projects have showcased innovative and creative open source solutions, valuable not only to NASA but also to the entire global community. Thiruvananthapuram was one of the six places chosen to host the competition in India, other cities being Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mohali and Vijayawada.

By Manoj

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