Friday, March 30, 2012

eClub Demo Day 1.

we are meeting for the first dry run Demo Day next Wednesday. Come to present and test your business idea in front of the viewers. Get the first feedback. 
We have seen already six presentations in the eClub in this season. Olda Neubeger has attracted almost two hundred viewers.

Last eClub presentation

Last Wednesday we have met in the HUB again and we have been streaming to seven other universities. Olda Neuberger was the invited speaker. He talked about his many Internet projects. Mainly he focused on his most successful portal He started deep in the history and explained how was the Internet changing, how were the users interests developing.  He was also commenting on the technological advances required to respond to these changes.

Olda was then talking about the business on the Internet. He has been involved in almost fifty different projects in the last decade and it makes him one of the most experienced entrepreneurs on the Czech Internet. I am sure he has inspired lot of the eClub visitors. As usually at the end lot of questions popped up from the audience and also from the remote locations. After the presentation we enjoyed little refreshment combined with networking. Great success! Olda thank you, very inspiring. Check out the eClub video page, we will soon publish the link to the recorded video.

eClub Demo Day 1

Next week we are getting ready for the first demo day. The first teams will present their fresh ideas and business proposals. The purpose of this dry run is to share your idea, to learn how to present it and how to attract the audience. We do not expect you will present finished products, we do not expect even a pilot. The purpose of the dry run is ideas review. We welcome wide range of projects we are not limited to Internet projects only. As usual I expect many questions from the audience and many follow up discussions. This is actually the most important part of this exercise. Starup after all, is an organization created to search for a working business model. It is a search for customers, who will buy the product. For many teams it will be for the first time to present their idea and get the public opinion. Do not forget, the viewers are the  potential customers. This is the ideal time to get the first customers opinion, to find out and understand what they want. Secondly you can try to find colleagues who may join your team or help you to expand or modify your idea.

The rules are very simple. Let me repeat the basics. Any team is welcomed to join us. There has to be at least one student in the team. The teams should ideally have at least two members. How to prepare the presentation? You can find the basics on the eClub pages. It should not be longer then 10 minutes. It will be presented in English. You can use any presentation manager. It will be useful if you can send us the files in advance. To get better idea about the presentation format you can check the finalists from the last season on the eClub page. Your presentation will be recorded too. Watch yourself in the recorded video, this will help you to uncover problems in your presentation.

What is most important? In the presentation you should try to focus on the essential idea. Try to explain what is the added or new value your product is bringing to customers. Do not hesitate to step in front of the crowd even with a simple idea, they are easy to explain, easy to understand and it is big advantage.

Come and join us, you cannot loose! Present of join other team. Let us know and register at eClub.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Gesture recognition - New research plan

End of April is the deadline for applying for PhD study at our faculty. I am putting together new research team. The target is the gesture recognition. I am looking for PhD, and MSc. candidates with a strong statistical and programming background. 

What is the story? Students are approaching me with suggestions for a diploma theses or suggesting doctoral research. Tomas Tunys came recently  with an idea of working on phone gestures. He is interested in recognizing gesturing with your phone in hand. Tomas Gogar on the other hand is interested in dead reckoning for his startup application. His goal is improving positioning even in locations without GPS. Working on these problems we have identified lot of similarities, at least they both use the phone sensors. Reading the literature I discovered that the gesture rocognition is based on the same mathematical framework as speech recognition, what a surprise.

All smart phones are equipped with many different sensors, which are helping the OS automatically switch the screen between the landscape an portrait, they turn the phone to pedometer, they track our bike trip, they record gestures etc. Drawing a gesture on the touch screen, gesturing with the phone or walking with the phone in the pocket are movements generating a time series produced by the motion sensors. Time series analysis is well established mathematical discipline. I was very lucky to work for twenty years in speech recognition and suddenly the smartphone sensors gave me a great chance to refresh my math. Fantastic, I can again use the vector quantization and the Linde Buzo Grey algorithm for generating the k-means vector quantizer. Check it out in Wikipedia they have published the algorithm 1980. My first US patent is partly using this algorithm. The gesture modeling relies on Hidden Markov Models. HMMs are the core of all current speech recognition systems using the old well known Viterbi algorithm. I remember all this from the times I had the privilege to work with a fantastic team in IBM led by Fred Jelinek. I worked with Raimo Bakis, David Nahamoo and other researchers who pioneered this mathematical background and applied it for speech recognition.

After a little state of the art analysis we have found a lot of articles focusing on gesture reco and the similarity with speech reco was immediately obvious, they use the same algorithms. The other surprise is that many of the gesture reco algorithms are still utilizing only a fraction of the sophistication developed for speech. How much more can we improve gesture reco using better algorithm? Can we build better sensing software recognizing your gestures or your movements? Can we build well recognizing system learning from a single instance? Can we build software recognizing complicated movements of your hands, the whole body or other even more complex movements? Can we build fusion systems combining many different inputs from GPS, compass, WiFi AP, cameras, speech etc?

What is the motivation? There are many applications, which would benefit from sensors. With the introduction of iPad the whole UI is being redefined today. I can imagine an iPad of a size of an office desk serving for everyday office tasks, helping graphical designers, helping CAD designers etc. Wrist watch may monitor your daily movements or predict what you want to do. You can gesture control your TV, HiFi or other home devices. Dead reckoning for robots or people etc. is also very challenging problem. Gestures combined with image or speech recognition we can create smarter devices with simpler more intuitive UIs. Gesture UIs for medicine are envisioned and tested already several years.  Rehabilitation, aids for handicapped etc, is another segment where smarter sensors will make change. The list of opportunities is very long. I have mentioned only a fraction. Just look around and you will find many.

I am looking for students at the MSc and PhD level who will be interested in joining the new team focusing on enabling all these capabilities. I’d like to apply old and study new algorithms improving and uncovering the sensors possibilities. I am interested in deep research with the clear vision for practical deployment. I am looking for people who are committed to show by building pilots the power of research. I want to build practical applications changing the way of live.

If you are interested let me know.

Monday, March 5, 2012

eClub - great presentation

Karel Janecek has visited  eClub. The presentation was streamed to nine locations. The total number of viewers is around 250. The response is fantastic.

Almost hundred people met in HUB Prague last Wednesday to meet Karel Janecek and listen to his RSJ computing story. Karel was great, with enthusiasm he has explained  the up and downs of his company crowned by phenomenal success. RSJ algorithmic trading is the market maker at two major stock markets London and Boston. The importance of education especially mathematics for running technological startup is the most valuable message. Karel is a scientist in is heart: “If I did not start my company I would have end up in a research institution” he says. The presentation was very lively with lot of interesting details. At the end Karel answered many questions and met a lot of viewers for a personal talk. If you missed the presentation find the video on eCl;ub pages. Great success.

We will meet Jan Sova owner of the Workswell startup next Wednesday. The MediaLab, which is the eClub sponsor,  helped with a small sum of money to his success. He is going to show the practical side of running startup in the Czech Republic. He will explain the legal requirements to run a startup. His company develops HW too and this is requiring extra law compliance. This time we will meet again at the Karolovo namesti. We will record the presentation. You will find it at the usual place.

eClub has funded seven top teams from the winter 2011 competition. All received mentors and scholarship for three months. We are approaching the first check point. The mentor and the eClub representative will review the progress and decide about further funding. So far all the teams are doing well.

We are planning new competition for the best startup project again. I hope, we will see lot of new teams and especially lot of new ideas. The competition has the following steps steps:

  • Register
  • Dry run
  • The presentation in front of an international jury. 
  • win, get seed money and execute

The dry run is a sort of a test, you will find how well you can explain your idea. Your performance in front of the crowd will also bring you first feedback and in many cases it will help you to improve the business idea. In the final presentation session the international jury will select the winning teams. Winners will receive a mentor and get a scholarship for the summer to develop their projects. I am also hoping we will attract students from other locations to enter the competition. Register the team on our pages, please, it is really simple. Entering the competition you can not lose you can only win. We need to know what needs to be prepared for dry run. See you next Wednesday at Karlovo namesti.