The International Conference on Innovations in Info-business and Technology-2016, more commonly referred to as ICIIT 2016 was held on the 4th March 2016 at OZO Colombo. The conference, organized by the IEEE Student Branch of Informatics Institute of Technology and was sponsored by the E-learning and Technical Communication ACM Professional Chapter- Japan Section. The conference revolved around the theme of ‘Emerging Tech Trends for Smart Digital Business’.

Kicking things into high gear was Dr. Ruwan Weerasinghe, Dean, Informatics Institute of Technology who explained how this conference was the first of its kind to have a technical track and actual paper presentations. He thanked the organizers and all those present for their support and encouragement.

Dr. Ruwan’s speech was followed by a speech by Dr. Sampath Kannagara, CEO of IIT. He too thanked everyone present and spoke about IIT’s programmes and gave a brief background regarding its history and spoke about the global impact IT has had on the industry.

Dr. Thilak Chaminda, Lecturer at IIT and also a member of the IEEE student chapter at IIT gave the final speech for the inaugural session. He explains how organizing a conference of this nature is by no means an easy task and thanked all the individuals and parties involved in the organization of the conference.

© ReadMe | Malshan Gunawardena
© ReadMe | Malshan Gunawardena

With the inaugural session done, it was time for the first keynote speech.

Prof. Deboprio Roy was the first keynote speaker. He is a senior associate professor of English, specializing in technical communication and usability at the Center for Language Research at the University of Aizu in Japan.

His topic was 3D printing based initiatives in a developing economy context – A holistic approach.

Prof. Roy talks about the administrative and economic bottlenecks when implementing a new technology. We need to think about smart ideas, he says. We should think reasonably, realistically and modestly and smartly. He gives us examples such as the $100 laptop idea. Two other examples are iCow (an app that helps schedule milking and immunization of cattle) and CardioPad, a computer tablet that diagnoses heart diseases in rural households. CardioPad collects signals via electrodes placed on the patient’s heart. All of these ideas are simple, inexpensive and embody the notion of being a smart idea.

© ReadMe | Malshan Gunawardena
© ReadMe | Malshan Gunawardena

So where does 3D printing come in?

Well, for one thing, it has changed the way we think about the world and its development. It is also referred to as the third Industrial Revolution with a tremendous potential. For example, more and more goods can be manufactured at or close to the point of purchase and consumption. Since its printed more or less on the spot, there is no need for inventory space or shipping charges and it can be done in the most optimum way. This would also mean that there is a significantly higher per unit cost of production but then again there is no cost for inventory or transportation.

He also gave us examples of innovative 3D printing applications such as Disney’s low power 3D-printed LED lights, developments in the areas of printing prosthetic limbs for amputees and surgical planning as well. We can even have 3D printed food. By 2050, we may even have 3D printed houses.

A realistic objective would be small products such as toys, mobile phone accessories and covers, small tools etc. While these are easy to produce, they also help you easily achieve good economies of scale. Prof. Roy then spoke about the 3D printing initiatives in his lab such as printing of Lego blocks while using AutoDesk and Tinker.

He then spoke about the revitalization project for Aizu. This is no mere English language classroom, students can read about a project and make a Lego prototype using CAD software and from there, create procedural documentation, all in the aim of developing localized entrepreneurship.

After a brief Q&A session Prof. Roy’s speech came to an end and he was presented with a token of appreciation.

After a quick refreshment break, the next speaker for the day was Prof. Keitaro Naruse of the University of Aizu, Japan.

His topic for the day, Problems of Remote Operating Robots and Robot Research Projects at University of Aizu, Japan.

He spoke about the background of the University such as its unique features and advantages. He also spoke about the aftermath of the deadly 2011 earthquake that hit Japan. The country, known for its nuclear resources suffered a great deal from nuclear contamination due to said earthquake resulting in damage to a few nuclear reactors. Using remote operated robots, they were able to clean up the area without any harm to humans. The area clearly is still radioactive and all we can do is just imagine dragons.

© ReadMe | Malshan Gunawardena
© ReadMe | Malshan Gunawardena

When making a useful remote operation robot, Prof. Naruse explained that the robot should be tested in courses mimicking real life scenarios.  In addition, the robot should have high security and a built in fail safe mechanism and should also require a highly skilled operator.

Prof. Naruse then spoke about the University of Aizu Robot Valley Project. Problems with this field are that there are large volumes required and redundant development and various platforms used for robots. The solution is to have an OpenRTM and OpenRTC library where the software is compatible across various platforms and components. He then proceeded to show some demos of the software used by these robots and how the background processes function. For example, one robot utilized the power of three cameras and openRTM software to create a 3D visual representation for the robot to see.

After the keynote speeches, the conference kicked off into an even higher gear with a Panel Discussion on how to disrupt a market.

It revolved around how 5 key technocrats are creating new industries at the global level in areas ranging from application architecture, intelligent garments, human capital management, digital broadcast, embedded systems and diagramming, among others. The panel was made up of the following individuals:

  • Sanjiva Weerawarana – Founder/CEO – WSO2
  • Ranil Vitharana – Chief Technology Officer – MAS Holdings
  • Harsha Purasinghe – Founder/CEO – Microimage
  • Sankalpa Gamwarige – GM/VP – Engineering, Zone24x7
  • Chandika Jayasundara – Co-founder/CEO – Cinergix/ Creately

The discussion was convened by Dr. Ruvan Weerasinghe, Dean – IIT, Former director of the University of Colombo School of Computing.

IMG_20160304_120905
Seated L to R: Harsha Purasinghe, Ranil Vitharana, Dr. Ruvan Weerasinghe, Sanjiva Weerawarana, Sankalpa Gamwarige, Chandika Jayasundara

Each member was given a question and 5 minutes to express their views and give an answer. Dr. Sanjiva was up first where he explained his backstory about how he founded WSO2 and the experiences he had. Dr. Sankalpa spoke about his work at Zone24x7, more specifically about implementing seamless decisions to disrupt a retail market.

Ranil Witharana explained the clothing and fabric industry and how businesses had to develop themselves to be more efficient. When the demand for clothing and fabric heightened, everyone just climbed aboard the bandwagon and in the end, forgot about the consumer. There was no differentiation and all products just looked the same.

Harsha Purasinghe spoke about Microimage and their software which pretty much powers all the radio channels in Sri Lanka. When they launched their product, it was immediately met with questions but a few companies took it as a challenge to use the application to improve their business. Microimage would go on to conquer this challenge and prove its naysayers wrong. 

Chandika Jayasundara shared his views about their product Creately, a cloud based diagramming and design tool to rival Microsoft Visio. At the time of launch, it was the era of SaaS (Software as a service). People were used to paying for a product on a one-time license and were unfamiliar with subscription services. Chandika and his team saw that as an opportunity and they rode that wave. So even though they were a nobody, they could reach customers as the playing field was a tad more levelled now. You can check out the full story behind Creately’s success here. 

As the discussion progressed, each member shared their views on disrupting markets. For example, using clothing, people’s lives can be made much easier. Ranil explained how the latest advancements in haptic feedback and medical clothes can help you live a longer healthier life. By equipping clothes with various sensors, the wearer can be aware of his/her medical condition and be alerted to any possible ailments. That’s not all though, using haptic feedback, they are able to produce clothing items that mimic the feedback of physical interactions. For example, if you are a watching a game of basketball, you can actually feel what the player feels such as an increased heart rate, breathing effects etc.

Harsha explained how it is vital to harness the power of innovation and to also have good execution which is a vital element for a product lifecycle.

With a few more questions, the panel discussion came to an end and the panelists were each presented with a token of appreciation.

After a scrumptious lunch, it was time to get down to the somewhat heavier part of the conference. These were the Paper presentations. Apart from the Academic presentations put forth by students, there were 6 industrial presentations. Each industrial presentation was given a time of 10 minutes. The winners of both categories would be announced after the presentations

Starting off the Industrial Presentations was 99X Technologies on Decomposing the Monolith. It basically dealt with moving from a search to a research culture to encourage startups to focus on academic and business perspectives. The product is basically a self-learning application that will display an interface based on the user by identifying various patterns and usage statistics. He took an example of an ERP where depending on the user, this application would display the interfaces related to that person’s role in the organization

Headstart was up next. They deal with E learning software and content development. The presentation looked at the process of implementing an e-learning initiative or programme to a client. He breaks the presentation into 6 points.

  1. Define your learning strategy.
  2. Feeding the user
  3. User friendliness
  4. How does learning happen
  5. Comprehensive integrated experience
  6. Have a proper partner eco system

Informatics International Ltd spoke about the challenges that Telecommunication Providers face due to the implementation of OTT (over-the-top content) services such as Whatsapp and Skype. Because these services don’t rely on voice transmission, The TelCo providers lose revenue.

Their solution is to use a PCRF (Policy and Charging Rules Function) which basically allows subscribers to select their own data package based on what they would be doing. For example, if a user was a heavy YouTube streamer, then he/she could select a package optimized for streaming content from YouTube. This also allows for maximum data harnessing by the TelCo without the wastage of resources.

Pearson Lanka was up next presenting a personalized education system. By harnessing the power of semantic search, they can index content which then allows them to provide relevant material to students. This alleviates the possibility of information overload and the student receives a clear understanding of

Virtusa was all about empowering every Virtusean with a comprehensive SDLC (software development lifecycle) 2.0 eco system. The system would handle any and all aspects of the lifecycle of a product or software and provided tools to collaborate and keep track of progression.

Zaizi Asia Ltd’s was the last Industrial presentation for the day. It revolved around an Intelligent Enterprise Cross Media Search. Zaizi is an open source information and technology consulting firm specializing in Enterprise content manage net and document capture solutions. Their product “MICO” (Media In Context) is a European union part-funded research project. It provides cross media analysis solutions for online multimedia producers.

After that, it was time for the Paper presentations by students. The topics had some impressive titles such as Data cleaning framework for NoSQL document databases, to The Data of Thinkgs, Strategies, patterns and practice of cloud-bnased participatory sensing to a method to detect stress using a personal mobile device and even a model for determining genuine and fake social network profiles.

19 Papers in total were put forward during the conference with the second floor of Ozo being transformed into 5 sub halls in order to carry out the presentations.

Once that was done, it was time for the awards to be handed out.

The award for Best Industrial Presentation was awarded to Virtusa whilst the award for Best academic paper went to Sahan Serasinghe of IITG on his paper LogXtractor. The application, an intelligent IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for Log structuring and Log extraction. The application would basically identify the structure of any log file via a hybrid of algorithms for pattern matching and machine learning to automatically generate a script which expresses the structure of the log file using Log Data Extraction Language.

With the presentations done, it was time to call it a day. A small vote of thanks ensued and the conference was called to a close. We too called it a day and made our way back home eager to see what ICIIT 2017 would have to offer.

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