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June 2021 monthly issue Flipbook PDF

June 2021 monthly issue


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To reach out with feedback, collaborations, submissions, or just to chat with us about the tech we love to talk about! Email: [email protected] Stay up to date with our latest stories on Science, Technology and Business stories from the Pan IIT ecosystem and India, by following our social media: https://www.facebook.com/iit.tech.ambit https://www.instagram.com/iit_techambit/ https://iit-techambit.in/

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Ultrasound Upgraded Written by SHREYA M P Designed by HOMESH NIMBARTE

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he introduction of ultrasound in the late 1950s created a revolution in the field of medical imaging. Since then, ultrasound technology has proved to be a boon to the medical industry owing to its advantages such as non-invasiveness, portability, safety, and ease of imaging with minimal strain in the patients. It uses high frequency non-ionising sound waves to create images and find applications in Sonar (sound navigation and ranging), non-destructive testing of materials, medical diagnostics, and therapeutics. Medical ultrasound imaging, commonly termed ultrasonography, is often used in cardiology, gynaecology, abdominal imaging etc. to help diagnose and detect abnormalities or to provide visual assistance with surgeries and biopsies. With the advancements in the field of electronics and computers, ultrasound imaging is evolving as a miniaturized, portable, and more affordable modality that provides exceptional image quality and performance. But studies show that more research is required to develop cost effective methods for ambulatory care to ensure that evidence-based treatments are initiated and treatment goals are attained and maintained over time. This emphasizes the necessity for an affordable and portable diagnostic system for ambulatory scenarios. In this regard, there have been various efforts towards developing portable ‘ultra-fast’ ultrasound imaging systems for point of care and bedside applications. One such effort is a research project being worked on by Dr. Mahesh and Mr. Madhavanunni from IIT Palakkad.

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Dr. Mahesh Raveendranatha Panicker is an Assistant professor in the Electrical Engineering department, IIT Palakkad. Dr. Mahesh received his Ph.D. from the School of Computer Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore in 2009. He is a senior member in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers(IEEE) and is also a Six Sigma Green Belt certified TRIZ practitioner. His research interests include signal processing and analytics, diagnostic ultrasound imaging, biomedical circuits and systems, industrial prognostics and health monitoring. One of his recent and important contributions in the area of diagnostic ultrasound imaging is the development of the Automated Lung Ultrasound analysis tool. The team was led by Dr. Mahesh and you can read more about the tool in the article written by Varun Ganta. Madhavanunni A N is a graduate student pursuing his Ph.D. in the area of Biomedical Ultrasound Imaging under the guidance of Dr. Mahesh at IIT Palakkad. Dr. Mahesh and Mr. Madhavanunni started working on an ultrasound imaging system that is both portable and affordable and gives better results than the existing portable ultrasound systems. The system being developed by this team is a high frame rate portable flow imaging system. These systems have a very limited commercial availability.

How does it work? A typical ultrasound imaging system mainly consists of an ultrasonic probe, a Digital Front End (DFE), an Analog Front End (AFE) and a back-end processor along with a display unit, and a power supply unit. An ultrasonic probe (typically a set of ultrasound transducers) is used to transmit the ultrasonic signals and to receive the reflected/ scattered echoes. The AFE together with the DFE provides the required pulses to excite the transducer and help generate the ultrasonic pulses required to insonify the Region of Interest (ROI). According to Wiktionary, to insonify is to “flood an area or an object with sound waves that are carefully controlled”. These ultrasound signals interact with the ROI and some of its energy gets scattered and reflected back to the probe. This response from the ROI, commonly referred to as backscattered echoes, is received by the probe and is further processed by the AFE, DFE, and the back-end processor to reconstruct the image of the ROI. This processing essentially involves spatial focusing and filtering, by combining the signals from multiple transducers and is called receive beamforming. Finally, this reconstructed image is displayed on a monitor/screen to help the clinicians in diagnostics. An accurate imaging system demands a good beamformer

A SCHEMATIC REPRESENTATION OF THE WORKING OF THE PORTABLE ULTRASOUND IMAGING SYSTEM. Source: Centre for Computational Imaging, IIT Palakkad

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that enables better diagnostics when used for medical applications. The project at IIT Palakkad focuses on developing novel flow imaging schemes for a portable vector flow imaging system without compromising on quality and accuracy. Vector Flow Imaging, commonly referred to as VFI, is a flow imaging technique that absolutely quantifies the blood flow in terms of its speed and flow direction independent of the orientation of the ultrasound probe. Novel VFI schemes and studies on beamforming techniques for a portable ultrasound system is being investigated with the help of a handheld ultrasound imaging system called SWAROOP which comprises of Transmit pulsers, AFE, Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA; it is an Integrated Circuit) for digital beamforming.

The Experimental setup at IIT Palakkad The experimental investigations are performed at the Centre for Computational Imaging at IIT Palakkad which is equipped with extensive research facilities for ultrasound imaging that include a 128 channel piezoelectric linear probe, 256 channel cMUT probe (cMUT stands for capacitive Micromachined Ultrasonic Transducer), 128 Channel Research Ultrasound Platform from Verasonics, 32 channel Research Ultrasound Platform from Verasonics, Doppler Phantom from CIRS and 128 channel Linear Probe from ALS Ultrasound along with a couple of custom phantom setups. In addition to this, the experimental setup for the portable ultrasound system includes the SWAROOP board and associated power supply board (provided by Texas Instruments Inc. Bangalore for evaluation and demonstration purposes). The SWAROOP board is a programmable platform that is potentially suited for point of care imaging systems.

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THE HARDWARE SETUP FOR THE EXPERIMENTS AND THE COMPONENTS USED.

Source: Centre for Computational Imaging, IIT Palakkad

Significance “There have been various attempts towards portable ultrasound imaging in B-mode and conventional Doppler, yet the efforts in portable high frame rate VFI have been very limited. The major challenge towards such systems would be to achieve a good tradeoff between the computational complexity and the output image quality”, commented

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Madhavanunni. “Beamforming is the heart of any ultrasound system that determines the accuracy and resolution. Hence the beamformer for such systems should be of sufficiently low complexity without degrading the diagnostic value and image quality. This forms the major motivation behind this project”. According to health care professionals, a portable ultrasound system is extremely

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THE VERASONICS VANTAGE RESEARCH ULTRASOUND SYSTEM AND THE CIRS DOPPLER FLOW PHANTOM SETUP Source: Centre for Computational Imaging, IIT Palakkad

useful in clinical care and is emerging as the new stethoscope. They can reduce the logistical difficulties of transporting patients with diseases with a high transmission risk for scanning. Also, portable systems help the hospital staff tend to a large number of patients as they can move around with the imaging system and the scanning could be done by the patients’ bedsides. The portable ultrasound system project that Dr. Mahesh and Mr. Madhavanunni are working on is supported by the Department of Science and Technology - Science and Engineering Research Board and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), India.

Imaging 2020 in Houston, Texas, USA. It was also presented in the IEEE International Symposium for Biomedical Imaging (ISBI) 2020 in Iowa, USA. Currently, the experimental investigations of the algorithms with the SWAROOP board using the Verasonics Vantage Research Ultrasound systems are going on. There are plans to market it after the complete prototype development, elaborate animal and clinical studies.

It is worthy to note that the investigation of the algorithms developed for this system has been presented by Mr. Madhavanunni and Dr. Mahesh at the Society of PhotoOptical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) International Symposium for Medical

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Reaching Out This article follows the journey of a group of students from IIT Guwahati on to build a solution to address the resource scarcity and supply in the recent 2nd Covid-19 peak, which received recognition and use from the Assam State Government.

Written by DIVYANSH KHARBANDA & SANANDI NAIK Designed by ONKAR PAL

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing”, is the forever mantra that brought a social initiative into existence by 3rd year students at IIT Guwahati. If the agony of your community doesn’t torment you, then you aren’t living as a part of a community. However, when we innovate and create, we uplift not only ourselves but the entire community. Two 3rd year students, Shreya Anish (Design department) and Jaswanth Gudiseva (Civil Department) from IIT Guwahati got wind of the Assamese population’s hurdles during the Covid-19 pandemic. They faced a shortage of Covid resources during the pandemic. In the age of big data, ignorance of its power is the worst shackle. This group of 6 students from IIT Guwahati conjectured that this was because of the lack of availability of Covid resources and the lack of information available for the existing ones. Among the many solutions that they pondered, only one seemed to be possible in the online world we reside in. Shreya Anish and Janawanth Gudiseva, along with their team of college freshers, built a website to resolve this availability and information gap. This website provides up-to-date information regarding oxygen cylinders, food, doctors, bed and medicine.

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Getting Started Although they started with a small team, they firmly believed in their cause and kept striving. “It was very overwhelming in the beginning. We wanted to make sure our academics weren’t affected. Now we used to being busy.” says Jaswanth Gudiseva as he describes his experience.

However, they soon shifted to using a website as it would have been a better experience for the end-user. The spreadsheet would have been more confusing to read, search and filter on the account of a large quantity of data, and would have been easily misplaced. Both of these issues were well addressed with the use of a website.

THE TECHNICHE WEBSITE Source: techniche.org

THE CORONA VIRUS Source: dissolve.com

The team distributed responsibilities for the various requirements like food, bed and oxygen cylinders availability amongst themselves. In order to always have the upto-date information on the website, their team calls people and asks them for updates on resource availability. They additionally check out various websites to obtain new leads. Their team keeps taking necessary updates and permission. Initially the people who they contacted were skeptical about their authenticity. Over time, the team convinced the people of their initiative, and so their website developed further. They verified and tried to be in contact with many other organizations to keep the website up-to-date and resource-rich.

The Techniche Website Initial non-technical Approaches The initial plan of action to get the information out as quickly as possible, was to release the spreadsheet containing the verified information to the users. spreadsheet would have been spread through social media and is a viable approach to get structured information out quickly.

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Website structure and design The vision of the team behind this effort was materialized by the Techniche Web Development Team and the Design Team. The overall look and feel was conveyed to the design team, who then designed the user interface. The Web Team later implemented this onto the website of Techniche. Front End of the website is basic HTML, CSS and JavaScript, which are basic and easy scripting languages for the Web. The HTML provides the content and structure, the CSS the styling and look, while JavaScript makes the website dynamic and interactive. The website is structured in a way that any change in the spreadsheet reflects immediately onto the website. These results can thus be filtered easily. It uses the Google Sheet API to display their data on their website. The source sheet is maintained by the outreach team.

Accessibility of the website Their goal was to make the website easily accessible and user friendly. Someone with no exposure to websites should be able to use it too, as the pandemic hit all the sections of society without prejudice. The website is

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being constantly shared through social media accounts of techniche to ensure it reaches far and wide, to those who need it the most. The Govt of Assam, whom they are planning to collaborate with, would include a link to their site in it’s own program, which will bring a lot of traction and get this service out to the farthest reaches of Assam. They further plan to share it via State Government portals and hopefully one day the National Government portals.

How the website implemented

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Additionally, many No-code solutions exist as well, where the developer can just build a website from pre-existing components. Popular examples of these are WordPress, Wix et al.

Concluding Remarks Getting the verified data and providing the data to the masses via a website are seemingly disjoint tasks. However, only when they operate together can something of value be provided to the society. In these trying times, supporting each other and working together for the common good is of the utmost importance, as indicated by this initiative.

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This section is aimed to provide a basic understanding of the website made, help those who would like to develop a similar solution for their local regions. The advice to stick by, given by the development team is to obtain the basic knowledge, then follow documentation/ any blog for implementing any feature that you want. The internet can fulfill all of your needs in the development of such websites. The techniche website uses a framework (which can be thought of as pre-written code) called Django. This is because the techniche website incorporates a full-fledged database. Websites (such as the Covid Resources page) do not necessarily need this and can be implemented using simple HTML. Alternatively, those who are familiar with JavaScript can opt for React, as recommended by the techniche Dev team. Using such frameworks makes the development processes quicker, especially since the basics of these tools are easy to use.

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Planetary Migration:

A brief history of the Solar System’s evolution Since its birth 4.5 billion years ago, the Solar System has undergone many changes. One, which led to several of the peculiar features we observe today, is Migration.. Written by SHREY GOGIA Designed by VIDHI BAID

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lanetary dynamics is probably the oldest of the physical sciences. It goes back to when Kepler and Galileo realized that the planets motions were not any mystical phenomena. That these were inherently physical, and they could derive the physical laws governing the motion of the planets. So, in a way, all of Modern Science started off with understanding the motion of the planets through simple Newtonian laws says Prof. Renu Malhotra, Louise Foucar Marshall Science Research Professor and Regents Professor of Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona. In the spirit of these great pillars of Modern Science, physicists have continued to unravel more subtle phenomena in the Solar System. Their findings have drastically changed what we thought we knew about our immediate Solar neighborhood.

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Planetary Migration It was long believed that all the planets were formed precisely where we see them today. This was a simple assumption borne out of the fact that at present, we observe a very stable state of the Solar System. Thus, there was no reason to believe that any process that causes significant shifts in the planets’ positions had ever occurred. However, the Planetary Migration hypothesis suggests the contrary.

A SCHEMATIC MAP OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM Source: Lecture Materials, Prof. Renu Malhotra

Approximately 4.5 billion years ago, when our Solar System was newly formed, the empty regions between the planets were filled with leftover small celestial bodies like asteroids and comets called planetesimals. These planetesimals were eventually cleared up by the gravitational effects of the Giant planets, bringing the Solar System to its present state. The Migration hypothesis draws attention towards the reaction forces these planetesimals would have exerted on the planets due to the law of Conservation of Angular Momentum. Thus, for example, a planet flinging an asteroid towards the interior of the Solar System would be pushed slightly outwards due to this reaction. Statistical scattering effects of all the small bodies present in the Solar System at that time suggest that Jupiter must have migrated about 0.5 AU towards the Sun, and the other Gas Giants would have migrated outwards by varying distances, with Neptune moving the largest distance by 10 AU (The Astronomical Unit is a standard unit of measurement on the Solar System scale. 1 AU is defined as the distance between the Earth and the Sun.)

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Prof. Malhotra explains this significant shift in Neptune’s orbit: “Jupiter, being the largest planet, naturally has the strongest gravitational influence. Thus, it preferentially removes the planetesimals scattered inward by Neptune and the other planets. Because all the planetesimals that used to be interior to planets orbits have been scattered very quickly by all the other giant planets inward of Neptune, the main source of planetesimals for Neptune to scatter is outside its orbit. Now, these bodies’ specific energy and angular momentum is larger than Neptune’s because the specific energy and angular momentum increase as the orbital radius increases. So, all the planetesimals that Neptune encounters have larger specific energy and angular momentum than itself. That creates a bias. The planetesimals scattered inside are removed faster from the system leading to an overall increase in Neptune’s angular momentum and consequently, its orbital radius.” Migration had far-reaching consequences for the four Jovian planets. It describes how the Solar System attained its fine-tuned state, which, by extension, has allowed life to thrive on Earth. It also seems to have had drastic effects on the small, far-away dwarf planetPluto.

Pluto Pluto has ever been the enigma of the Solar System. Ever since its discovery by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930, Pluto's peculiar properties had puzzled astrophysicists. Its unusually high orbital eccentricity and the fact that Pluto's orbital plane is tilted by 17 degrees to the mean orbital plane are some features that are extremely difficult to integrate

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DIAGRAMS ILLUSTRATING PLUTO’S UNUSUAL ECCENTRICITY AND INCLINATION Source: Lecture Materials, Prof. Renu Malhotra

Another fascinating property of Pluto's orbit is that it is in a perfect 3:2 ratio with that of Neptune. Such pairs of orbits having their semi-major axes in whole-number ratios are called resonant orbits. Celestial bodies revolving in resonant orbits mutually affect each other's motion due to their periodic gravitational interactions. In Pluto's case, these resonance effects make sure that it never collides with Neptune, even though their orbital paths intersect. Pluto performs small loops at its perihelion (the point where it is closest to the Sun), which changes its subsequent trajectory to avoid crashing into Neptune. However, resonance effects only go so far. Pluto's eccentricity and inclination are still left unexplained… Breakthroughs by Prof. Malhotra in the early 1990s shed entirely new light on this subject.

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PLUTO’S MOTION AROUND THE SUN AS VIEWED FROM NEPTUNE’S FRAME OF REFERENCE. Source: Lecture Materials, Prof. Renu Malhotra

Using the Planetary Migration hypothesis, she theorized that Pluto's peculiar orbit could have evolved into its present state after being captured in orbital resonance with Neptune. Prof. Malhotra explains how she came up with this idea. “I had this idea that maybe the orbits of Neptune and Pluto had changed over time. And then, at some point, they got locked into this resonant state in which we observe them today. But, at the time I was thinking about it, there wasn't any physical mechanism that anybody had proposed to explain the change in the orbits of planets. It was believed that the planets formed where we see them today. Then I discovered a paper by a pair of planetary dynamicists, Fernandez and Ip. They had proposed that the

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planetesimal debris present in the early Solar System could make planets migrate. But that paper hadn't received much attention. In fact, people working in Planetary Dynamics told me that it was all wrong! But I looked into it anyway... I thought about it, and I realized that it wasn't wrong. That there was a very important insight in that paper. It's just that our computers were not powerful enough to do the calculations correctly. And, I was young. I was a little rebellious, and I went ahead with the idea. I realized that Pluto being in this mode-locked state with Neptune could be the evidence for planetary migration, and that's how I wrote those papers."

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NEPTUNE CAPTURES PLUTO IN RESONANCE AS IT MIGRATES AWAY FROM THE SUN. Source: Lecture Materials, Prof. Renu Malhotra

In her research, Prof. Malhotra came up with a rather simple logarithmic equation that describes the change in Pluto's eccentricity in terms of the distance of Neptune from the Sun. This equation even helped her predict that Neptune must have migrated by at least 5 AU for Pluto to attain its high eccentricity of 0.25.

A SIMPLE EQUATION RELATING PLUTO’S ECCENTRICITY TO NEPTUNE’S SEMI-MAJOR AXIS Source: Malhotra, R. 1993a, Nature, 365:819-821

In the subsequent paper, she extended her hypothesis to all the Kuiper belt objects. This is the collection of asteroids present just beyond Neptune. Planetary migration implied that the asteroids in this region would pile up in several resonant orbits, the most prominent being the orbits in 1:1, 4:3, 3:2(Pluto's), and 2:1 ratios. These predictions were eventually verified by cataloging the asteroids observed in the Kuiper Belt. Thus, resonance and planetary migration were found to have numerous applications in explaining the overall structure of the Solar System. While these changes were happening in the outer Solar System, terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars) suffered a tormenting era of meteorite impacts. The impact craters on these planets suggest large-scale scattering of asteroids from the region between Mars and Jupiter once occurred. This phenomenon can easily be associated with the Migration of

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Jovian planets. Dating and analysis of the impact craters on Mars and Moon confirms that they were formed due to planetesimals coming from the Asteroid Belt around 3.9 billion years ago.

EXPERIMENTAL VERIFICATION OF THE DISTRIBUTION OF ASTERIODS IN THE KULPER BELT AS PREDICTED BY THE PLANETARY MIGRATION HYPOTHESIS Source: Lecture Materials, Prof. Renu Malhotra

the Jovian Planets leading to the formation of what we now call the Asteroid belt.

Formation of the Asteroid Belt The present-day structure of the Asteroid Belt is crucial observational evidence for Planetary Migration. Numerical simulations show that the Asteroid belt could have attained its present form only if the Jovian planets migrated. This transition of the Asteroid Belt from being completely filled with debris to a relatively clear state at present had dire consequences for the terrestrial planets. These newly formed planets were bombarded by asteroids scattered due to the gravitational influences of the moving

The effects of large-scale changes in the outer Solar System on these nearby terrestrial planets provide strong evidence supporting the Migration hypothesis. Moreover, analysis of the craters also sets the time at which migration must have occurred at 3.9 billion years ago, making the hypothesis more coherent. Another facet of the Asteroid Belt that supplements the Migration hypothesis is that it sets an upper limit on the time taken by the planets to migrate. Had that process been prolonged, almost all the asteroids in the Belt would have been cleared due to the strong gravitational forces of the Giant plants. For the Asteroid Belt to be as populated as it is today, Migration could have only lasted for a few million years. Careful study of these features of the asteroid belt has brought the Migration hypothesis much closer to completion. These discoveries have significantly increased our understanding of how the Solar System has evolved over time and have also changed the course of Planetary Sciences, adding several new dimensions to explore.

A COMPARISON OF OBSERVATIONAL DATA ABOUT THE DISTRIBUTION OF ASTEROIDS IN THE ASTEROID BELT IN ORANGE, TO NUMERICALLY SIMULATED RESULTS IN GRAY SHOWS CLOSE AGREEMENT. Source: Lecture Materials, Prof. Renu Malhotra

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Impact on subsequent Literature and Future Applications Ever since it was brought to the forefront by Prof. Malhotra's radical efforts, Migration has become a mainstay in Planetary Sciences. "It has really affected all of Planetary Science. Everything we do nowadays, almost every paper you see, will say something about what their line of research has to do with Migration," she said. “It's like everything is colored by the idea that the planets didn't form where we see them. That their positions have changed” One of the Planetary Science community's present goals is to know how exoplanet systems form and evolve. Understanding these far-off planetary systems could go a long way in revealing more about how our own Solar System has evolved and whether planet systems like ours are rare or relatively common in the Universe. We have come a long way since Kepler, Newton, and Galileo took to understanding the mysterious motion of the planets. A deeper understanding of the same planetary dynamics in the coming years could well be the key to Humanity's destiny among the stars.

Note: This article was inspired by the lecture given by Prof. Renu Malhotra in the Mysteries of the Universe(MOU) Lecture Series hosted by IIT, Roorkee.

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ARK’s Drone on the Drive After the issue of the devastatingly increasing Covid cases, now comes the issue of effective administration of vaccination in geographically remote locations. However, this issue can now be judiciously taken care of by the expedient production of ARK’s Vaccination drone, that is capable of wonders. Written by JAYATEE SRIVASTAVA Designed by LUV SINGH

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ver since the pandemic commenced, there has been a constant palpable anxiety amongst the masses regarding the virus. India witnessed its second wave outburst just recently, and thanks to the hospitality of the doctors as well as timely inoculations, the cases as well as the anxiety have been plummeting. Two primary vaccines are being administered: namely Covaxin and Covishield manufactured by Barat Biotech and Serum Institute of India Ltd. respectively. With hundreds of thousands of people being vaccinated daily, India is congregating and fighting in unison against this formidable virus. India has administered nearly 187 million vaccines until May 20th (source: India has administered nearly 187mn Covid vaccine doses till now | Latest News India - Hindustan Times). Urban and Semiurban areas are doing appreciably in vaccinating the residents. However, there are certain geographically remote locations difficult to access via road. This is where aerial assistance can be of utmost avail.

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Introduction to a Flight Controller Just what a CPU is to the computer, Flight Controller is to the drone. Their physical appearance almost resembles the motherboard of your computer. Often referred to as drone radio transmitter or the drone radio controller, evident from the names mentioned thereof, their means of working includes transmitting radio signals from the drone controller and obtained by the drone signal receiver.

Components of Drone Flight Controllers The components depend extensively on the type of copter being employed. For instance, an octocopter will use more sensors than a general quadcopter. As far as the primary components are concerned, they can vary too based on the incentive and purpose of the build. They can constitute of barometers for measuring barometric pressures and by extension measuring altitudes, or gyroscopes for defining orientation and angular velocity wherever required. A magnetometer is a device susceptible to magnetic fluctuations, and hence is used to access direction information. One thing commonly interpreted incorrect is that a gyroscope is capable of providing directions. This is not true because it is used to ascertain the spontaneous orientation (or the deviation from a specific orientation) and hence highlights the significance of a magnetometer. Infrared Transponders used infrared technology to render the location of the drone at a particular instant. Universal Asynchronus Receiver/ Transmitter (abbreviated to UART) is a technology that enables effective communication of a Flight Controller with a certain external device. Its functioning can be assumed to be similar to a USB port.

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Flash Memory is a form of semiconductor originated memory, which allows the user to electrically erase and reprogram its contents easily. It helps the pilot to record performance data directly into the copter. STMicroelectronics32 or STM32 is a family of 32-bit microcontrollers used as flight controllers. A faster processor would execute smoother flight and easy management. Drones are generally preferred because they can navigate with a relatively more ease as opposed to helicopter. In March, a group of ARK (Aerial Robotics Kharagpur, a research group of IIT Kharagpur) students were called back to campus for operational testing of a Hexacopter, vitally helpful in delivering vaccines to remote locations. The project had commenced in 2017, and they have been successful in devising the drone mentioned thereof. IIT Tech Ambit reached out to Yash Soni, a third-year undergraduate at IIT Kharagpur, as well as one of the team members of the ARK team, who answered some of our questions on this expedient contribution. The drone is fully autonomous and only requires coordinates of the destination. Pixhawk Flight Controller was utilized for the project, powered by a 22000 mAh battery. For effective localization of the drone, it is equipped with two GPS modules. In order to attach the vaccine box to the drone, it also comprises of a custom hardware with gripping mechanism, augmented by a parachute module, should there be any possibility of failure. On being questioned of the Inter IIT Tech Meeting’s correspondence with the Vaccination drone, Yash highlighted the dissimilarities, stating that unlike in the former problem statement where we had a constrained environment and obstacle avoidance, the latter had other hardware related issues to sort out. “We had to choose the design of the drone so that it could travel long distances along with the medical box”, Yash said. The team worked collaboratively with ICMR

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who fully funded this project. Yash told us that this project helped them in the domains of drone exploration and gain experience with the technology used in building the drone. The testing was administered at IIT Kharagpur’s campus almost every day throughout the month of May. However, the team experienced issues occasionally which were later judiciously taken care of. “Occasionally there were damages to the drone parts during the testing. This halted the progress as we had to wait for the parts to get delivered. Sometimes it took as long as two weeks for the parts to get delivered”, Yash said on being inquired about the major issues encountered by their team.

For bigger missions, the drone was operated from the MG ground to the Helipad. That’s roughly 800 metres. Through the meticulous efforts of the ARK team members under the supervision of Prof. Somesh Kumar, a very significant consequence was produced. IIT Tech Ambit congratulates the entire team for their commendably functioning drone and wishes them all the best for their future endeavors.

Source: The Scholars’ Avenue

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STARTUP

Source: Rancho Labs

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Helping India’s Ranchos Soar High Rancho Labs, an ed-Tech start-up, aims to build a creative learning environment in India to motivate students to innovate at a young age. An insight into the journey of its founder, some unique initiatives by the start-up, and what differentiates them from their competitors. Written by VISHWAS KALANI Designed by LUV SINGH

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ne of the greatest physicists of all time, Albert Einstein, said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” What is creativity in the most scientific sense? It is the dexterity to create things using skill and intelligence, being adaptive to resources available, and more than just having a cognitive aspect, it is also closely linked to personality and motivation. Rancho Labs, an ed-Tech start-up initiated in 2019 by IIT Delhi Alumni and Professors, aims to build such creative learning environment and channelize the potential of India’s children on the right path to aid them to accomplish their dreams in technology. With the world already in a virtual era, automation, programming, and artificial intelligence are the needs of the hour, and Rancho Labs works with this future insight.

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Technology is no more just influencing instead driving the present world “Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.” -Stewart Brand Currently, the world is in a digital revolution. The students who are learning tech skills are quietly taking a lead over other students, as undoubtedly, career in any field ranging from industry to medicine in the future will require tech skills. Such technical skills are needed to adapt for tomorrow and make an individual a better problem solver, entrepreneur, and even a more eligible leader. Artificial intelligence, robotics, machine learning, programming, and space research have become pivotal building blocks of the future owing to their capability to bring about tremendous changes in any field. And this transformative environment has also led to many students developing a keen interest in this domain.

Embarking on a mission “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” -Lao Tzu While talking to the founder of Rancho Labs, Anshul Agarwal, who graduated from IIT Delhi in 2021, he shares his story and all

ANSHUL AGARWAL, FOUNDER RANCHO LABS Source: Rancho Labs

experiences he had gained before this start-up. Since childhood, a keen space science lover, Anshul says, “I was interested in space science during my primary and secondary school years and used to follow NASA and ISRO. Although I was passionate about this field, it was challenging for me to follow my passion due to limited options. Thus gradually, my passion died down, and I again became involved in the routine academics as every student does.” Hailing from Kota and being interested in mathematics and science, he too prepared for JEE but was a bit unsatisfied about what he was pursuing and what he coveted. “My second interest was in the field of entrepreneurship, and I wanted to build something that could make an impact on lives of people. I was in a dilemma even four months before JEE about what path I should opt for. But the fabulous entrepreneurship culture at IIT Delhi and Bombay motivated me to get serious for JEE.” He got into the industrial and production department at IIT Delhi. He believes, “If you follow something of your passion, then you will be two steps ahead than the rest of the people in the segment.” “So, I got involved in various start-up-related activities from the first year itself. In the summers post my first year, I, along with my friend, worked on a Food Delivery idea and collaborated with a restaurant at IIT Delhi. Our product was doing well in its beta phase itself, and we had even formed an outstanding team across the campus; and even UI, UX for our application was done and dusted, but what lacked was satisfaction in this domain. We thought we can’t spend 10 years that is approx.

AMAN KUMAR, CO-FOUNDER RANCHO LABS Source: Rancho Labs

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1/6th of our lives in this venture.” Moving forward, he did not shy away exploring varied domains, ranging from paid counselling sessions for JEE on social media to developing a biodegradable product that could help the problem of carrying popcorn and cold drinks together while in stadium or cinema halls. But unfortunately, due to some circumstances it could not be patented. Even Anshul was not ardent to follow it as he wanted to work on something big, and there the idea of Rancho Labs came to his mind, and he and Aman Kumar founded Rancho labs.

Initial Setup and Goals “In 18 years of education in India, we primarily focus on theoretical aspects, and the passion of those interested in practical knowledge gradually dies down. We want to transform this culture radically and want students to innovate early so that they can shape their career, the way they desire” -Anshul Agarwal Anshul not being able to try some things out in his field of interest during his childhood, fuelled his passion to establish Rancho Labs. It commenced its operations in December 2019. The founders have an ambition to ameliorate the standards of education in India.

The name Rancho Labs, too, has a story to tell. One of the landmark movies of Bollywood “3 Idiots”, had a character “Rancho” played by Aamir Khan. The movie materialized the character as someone passionate about tech skills who did not follow the rat race at college. The founders had similar ideas on company goals. “The name was so catchy that one of our entrepreneurship professors, Nakul Gupta sir at DMS IIT Delhi told us to straight away buy the domain for the site,” says Anshul as he talks about how some professors at IIT Delhi assisted them. The company got officially instituted in Feb 2020, and before the pandemic, they could conduct 2-3 workshops and camps. The first workshop was conducted in Kota, Rajasthan. The team members also conducted a pre-tryst

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workshop in collaboration with TRYST, IIT Delhi, but then came pandemic, which halted such events further.

A Noteworthy initiative Hackcorona The entire country was in a state of discomposure when the pandemic began raging the country. “Lockdown was imposed, and we could not continue our work of the company. Although the number of cases at that time was less, we decided to build a community to figure out feasible solutions of some problems that we could resolve”, says Anshul. So, team Rancho Labs and some other students of IIT Delhi and other colleges across the country worked on different problem statements.

Source: Twitter

They devised a medical facility tracker which was primarily used for bed tracking. The team developed a web app pertaining to it. It was brought into action by Delhi Government on 2nd June 2020, and then gradually, even more states endorsed this tracker. The team worked for around one month for this noble cause, but it was very dispiriting as covid cases continued to surge due to various factors.

What a course at Rancho Labs has to offer? The start-up launched its first robotics course during mid-April when Anshul, Aman, and a

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few more IIT Delhi students like Rohan Yuttham, the coordinator at Robotics club IITD, were mentoring students. Due to the pandemic, many parents and students got interested in the course, but soon the startup shifted its entire focus on thoroughly structuring and accessorizing the website. In the interview, Anshul discusses, “We gave a lot of thought process, as considerable time as of 5 months to completely model the website and decide the curriculum. Although I feel we should have continued acquiring customers at that time. During October and November, school exams keep the students on the hop, so it was in February that our customer base began to thrive.” With more than 8000 students associated with Rancho Labs in different programs, Rancho Labs has a very planned curriculum as per varied requisites of students at different learning levels. Talking about how the curriculum of various courses was designed, Anshul says, “We have a 3-stage teaching process of learn, build and innovate. We ensure that apart from learning theoretical aspects of any topic, a student has an opportunity to work in any project based on his ideas.” Owing to this meticulously designed curriculum and nurturing of innovative ideas among students, there have been some fabulous projects by students at Rancho Labs, for instance, Bedo-boat (a smart bed which converts into a boat during floods by Siddharth Kumar Gopal), Intuitive sanitizing tunnel (to kill bacteria and viruses using UV rays by Aryan Verma) and many more cited on the website.

IMAGE FROM A WORKSHOP PRIOR TO PANDEMIC Source: Rancho Labs

As Anshul details, “We have a 3-stage interview process to sort out the teachers, and

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the core team ensures that quality educators are part of Rancho Labs. Moreover, we want to give attention to every student; therefore, we keep our batch size small.” Apart from various courses, Rancho Labs offers opportunities to students to be part of their summer camp and Young Innovators program, where they can learn, build, and innovate with a pool of budding young minds.

Long term goals accomplished

to

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“Our long-term goal is to alleviate the sense of dissatisfaction many people of India feel post their education. We want everybody to have at least tried their hands out for what they are curious about. Holistic development of a student can occur if he learns essential skills and carries the confidence gained from them to pursue his passion and come out with flying colors.” - Anshul Agarwal The founders of the company believe that at some stage in the future, they would not only mentor students for tech skills but entire holistic development. The members of Rancho Labs consistently strive to provide a quality experience to its customers and are paving their way out to accomplish their long-term aspirations. And rightly said by Alexander Graham Bell, “The only difference between success and failure is the ability to take action.”

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Detektor: Fighting Fake News Written by YATINDRA INDORIA Designed by NISHANT SHARMA

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ccording to a recent survey done in the UK, 59 percent of the subjects had come across fake news on COVID-19 (the subjects being from, 16 to 24-year-old). It only gets worse in India. A skim through a handful of reliable sources, seems to be an effective solution (to the possible misinformation spread). But, unfortunately, the middle-aged population of our country, isn’t as comfortable with technology, and is largely unaware of the credibility of the sources they come across. This leads to the propagation of misinformation at an exponential rate, especially if the information has a ‘shock’ element to it. Chinmay Singh, a 5th-year undergraduate at IIT Kharagpur, saw his parents in confusion and panic due to such forwards, when he contracted the Corona Virus. He thus decided to make ‘Detektor’ with his friends Yash Khandelwal, Nikhil Shah, Apoorve S., Harsh Sah. ‘Detektor’ is a Whatsapp chatbot, which takes a ‘claim’ from you, in text (this text is termed as the ‘query’), and responds on the credibility of the same. Currently, there are two formats of the responses which are supported. In the first category, a ‘conclusion’ is presented, clearly stating if the news (claim) has been confirmed to be ‘false’/’true’. In the other format, a list of articles (with respective links) is sent to the user for reading and confirmation, to handle the case when a ‘claim’ can’t be accurately classified as ‘true’/’false’ (keeps the possible ‘false-positives’ in check). Now we’ll look under the hood, on how the ‘Detektor’, ‘detects’ fake news.

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So Many Languages ‘Detektor’supports all Indian languages;along with mixed ones like ‘Hinglish’. To make it work for so many different languages, firstly all the languages are converted to ‘English’, using prevalent Machine Learning techniques. Machine learning techniques are algorithms, which don’t need to be explicitly ‘told’ what to do, but are programmed such that, they can ‘learn’ with ‘experience’ (they change to get closer to the true outputs, that process is called training). “This translation ensures that all the furtherprocessing and analysis logic can be the same for all of the languages.”, explained Chinmay.

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Processing ‘Language’

The Search

After the ‘translation’, to English. The first thing to do now, is to ‘isolate’ the ‘claim’ to be verified. For example, a ‘text’ sent to the bot is “Mr. X who is the CEO of ABC corporations, and was accused of a crime ‘Y’ a few weeks back, died in a car accident yesterday.”. A lot of information is contained in the above sentence, but the only relevant part is, “Mr. X died in a car accident yesterday.”, (the claim), a search can be done only when this is ascertained. This is called ‘summarizing’ and many ML algorithms are written for the same. Not just any off-the-shelf ‘summarizer’ can be used for this purpose, as they’re not programmed with the specific aim of ‘claim-isolation’ in mind (and thus won’t be as effective, in a problem this specific). According to Chinmay, ‘Summarization’ is the current bottleneck of the pipeline. As most of the ‘well-trained’ (trained with a lot of data) ML models available, are not specific to the problem at hand. This bottleneck is the reason why there’s an upper limit at the number of words in a ’query’, and why the effectiveness drops significantly with the increase in the size of the ‘query’. The current version doesn’t support multimedia, although there are effective ‘OCR’ algorithms (Optical-CharacterRecognition, used to recognise text from photos). The reason being, photos and videos, a lot many times contain details like names, numbers, watermarks and dates. Which can make ‘summarization’ even less accurate, elevating the risk of ‘false-positives’.

The list of sources for validation is maintained manually, to ensure that no ‘shady’ or ‘polarized’ sources make it into the list. International standards of factchecking are upheld, and sources are the ones, verified by organisations like the IFCN (International Fact Checking Network). The isolated ‘claim’ is searched for, across the articles. And one of the two aforementioned responses is sent to the user. Chinmay pointed out, that the relevant part of the article can be extracted efficiently, using Deep Learning techniques. But this hasn’t been applied, as its effect on the accuracy is yet to be tested and confirmed, (to avoid false-positives).

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The API Chinmay pointed out, that the ‘Detektor’ currently uses many 3rd party and open source APIs to achieve its functionality. An API can be understood as a program connecting 2 logics (programs) running on 2 different systems, the output of one is used as an input for another. Like our input on Google search is taken by the application on our computer, an API connects it with Google’s severs, which take input from the application, and use the ‘search-function’ for searching through the database and find an output, then the API returns the results (the output of search) to us.

“It’s a problem, we wish to solve, and commercializing will not achieve that. We can put out a model right now, but the people won’t benefit”. And the war against misinformation and fake news, wages on!

“We are trying to get the Whatsapp Business API, it will make the program more straightforward to manage, although it will add to the costs we’re incurring”, states Chinmay. When asked about the current work, Chinmay stated the team is working on the ‘summarization’ bottleneck they’re facing, and also on including multimedia support for the bot. One of the features they’ll be working on in near future is, including a personalised ‘Fake-News’ feed, which alerts the user to possible fake-news they may have come across, depending upon their Geographical location and other factors. This will require personal data of the user, for which they’ll ask for permissions to use. Other aims that Chinmay pointed out are, making the bot reach more of the target audience, the creators plan on using Whatsapp and news agencies to create awareness about the project. When they have a large enough user-base, and have satisfactorily dealt with the current issues and bottlenecks, they’ll open donation platform to deal with the finances of the project (as aforementioned, the project is self-financed as of now). When asked if he wishes to commercialize the project in coming time, Chinmay stated,

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Responses by ‘Detektor‘ (Both the formats)

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NEWS

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