Inspire Sri Lanka is a competition for innovators who are passionate about utilizing technology for a better tomorrow. In line with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) programme, Inspire Sri Lanka is an ideal opportunity for people to come together to help end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all via the use of technology. Winners of Inspire Sri Lanka would also win a visit to CommunicAsia 2017 at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore scheduled to be held from the 23rd-25th May 2017.

The first round of evaluations for Inspire Sri Lanka were held on the 15th of May 2017 at Trace Expert City. Revolving around the theme of Sustainable Development Goals, 18 competing teams would be be evaluated by a panel of judges. Those who show an outstanding performance will go on to take part in the final round scheduled to be held at the Google I/O Extended Sri Lanka organized by Mobitel.

First up at Inspire Sri Lanka was Team Bits and Bytes

Hailing from the University of Moratuwa, the team opens up with the statement that 30% of urban traffic is caused by drivers searching for parking space. This is where the team’s innovation comes into play. Using a mobile app, a desktop client and an embedded system, they have developed a system to keep track of available parking spaces and slots in those spaces. Using the embedded system in a parking location and a transmitter in the vehicle, a driver can see all available parking slots available in a parking system.

The Mobile app would communicate with the transmitter and notify the user of any free slots. The embedded system will be installed in each and every slot of the parking space. It will report availability of the slot and driver can see free slots. In addition, it can also find available parking stations, scheduled parking, offers real time monitoring, can find places for refueling and maintenance, and lets you rent out your parking space when not in use.

The judges offered their views and suggestions from them to improve in terms of technology and their business model.

Poly Agro was up next at Inspire Sri Lanka with Smart Polytunnel

Certain crops cannot be grown in all locations due to limitations such as temperature, humidity and the acidity of the earth. Smart Polytunnel is aimed at farmers and general consumers to enable them to grow any crop anywhere. Resembling a mini glasshouse, the device can control light, water and temperature. As such, if the light is too much, the overhead roof of the Smart Poly Tunnel will close, and if light not enough, internal lighting will switch on to compensate.

Inspire Sri Lanka
Team Poly Agro presenting their product
Image Credits: Thisal Gunarathne

The team draws data from a central database that analyzes the area the farmer or consumer is in and then produces a report on what crops can be grown there. Following the concept of Anybody can Farm, all crops are entered into the database with required settings, so anyone can farm their crops. The database is created using aid from the Department of Agriculture from the University of Colombo. The view of the judges, however, was to get details from the University of Peradeniya or Ruhuna as they are more knowledgeable in Agriculture. I guess we’ll take their word for it.

Next up at Inspire Sri Lanka was Team Osmimum

Harnessing the power of VR, they are working on Social VR, which essentially allows them to meet new people in the virtual world. How are they using this technology? Well, at the moment, there are schools across the country with no teachers. This is the problem that the team has identified and has set out to solve. Their product “Guru Gedara” makes use of the power of VR to initiate collaborative learning with Social VR. Using an Oculus Rift and Samsung VR headset, the team demonstrated how you can interact with each other on the platform.

Inspire Sri Lanka
Team Osmimum presenting their product
Image Credits: Thisal Gunarathne

Team Datacon wants to protect water

Water is a natural resource that is fast becoming both polluted and scarce. The team’s product, Plexa is referred to as the online water network. The aim of this startup is to protect our natural water resources and also to manage our water. They implement the device at specific locations to measure the overall quality of the water.

Inspire Sri Lanka
Team Datacon presenting their product
Image Credits: Thisal Gunarathne

Team Cobra too has a water management system

Called iWAM, the product is aimed at volunteer organizations and government offices. They intend to use it to save water. The device would send a message to the owner of the water system when the water level is low. The system has the ability to monitor criteria such as humidity, temperature and water quality. It will generate an alarms if water levels drop or rise.

Inspire Sri Lanka
Team Cobra presenting their product
Image Credits: Thisal Gunarathne

Team Hustlers wants us to know the law

How many of are really knowledgeable about the laws in our country? What do you do when someone commits a crime against you? Well, that’s the problem that Hustlers has identified. Their product “Lawyered” is designed to keep the user aware of the laws and regulations in our country. People are either unaware of the rules in the country or they have problems in understanding the rules because of a language barrier. Also in the event of someone committing a crime against you, you may not know whom to contact regarding it. It is primarily aimed at volunteer organizations and government offices.

Inspire Sri Lanka
Team Hustlers presenting their product
Image Credits: Thisal Gunarathne

In terms of features, Lawyered offers smart-filtered laws for the current situation. In addition, it also helps find people locate the best organizations to help them out. It also has location specific notifications for special rules. You can search for laws by a keyword and even search for lawyers using the same word.

Team Firewall wants to help students who can’t get into state universities.

This is because the Universities accept only a certain number of students. Aiming to find a solution to that is Team Firewall’s goal. Their product is an online University that makes use of Augmented Reality to teach A/L subjects to students. It has features such as a fully interactive university where you can walk into virtual classes, carry out science experiments and also keep a track of lecture notes. You can even ask questions and the AI lecturer will respond.

Next up was Team While (Loop) with their product “Yaman”.

A community based transportation application. By a user sharing his/her location whilst in the bus, you can subscribe to any route in the system. From there, you can get the real time location of the bus, get notified from subserviced routes and ask details about the ETA and traffic status from users traveling along the route. The team says that they have an advantage because no system like this exists at the moment.

Team Verizon’s approach to Waste management is novel and interesting.

The premise here is to sort your garbage into 3 predetermined categories. Once sorted, the waste can be sent to companies to be recycled or even used to generate energy via underground tunnels. The waste collecting bins would be equipped with a raspberry Pi to sort garbage to make the process easier. If one type of waste is detected in another bin, an alarm would generate.

Team Return x wants to eliminate violence against women

This is a area that most people tend to turn a blind eye towards. As per the team’s research, Current conventional methods for females to travel are either to be in large groups or be chaperoned. Both of these, whilst being safe, have their drawbacks such as a lack of independence. Even devices such as Rape whistles are not really effective if you’re in a secluded or rural area.

Their proposed solution is “Guardian”. A mobile app that would instantly transmit the wearer’s GPS location to preselected contacts and even emergency services (which will be added in the near future). In addition, the app can also discreetly record audio and video which can be transferred to an emergency contact or the cloud. Apart from the app, Guardian would also have a wearable wristband with a single programmable button. Pressing it once would activate one of the preselected functions such as a single tap to send the wearer’s GPS location to a trusted contact or a double tap for recording audio and video. Location data is stored locally so there is no fear of your location being given to 3rd parties. In addition, recorded media is encrypted and expires after 48 hours. The wristband can also monitor vitals through a heartbeat sensor to ensure the safety of the wearer.

Another solution aimed at Agriculture, Team Addah’s product is called Cro-Ma

Roughly 30% of the entire landmass of Sri Lanka is used for Agriculture. But when it comes to knowing what crops can grow where, the knowledge is not well known. This is where Cro-Ma comes into play. This is an IoT device that uses machine learning and collects environmental data and sends it to a mobile app. From there, the app uploads the data into the cloud. In turn, using machine learning and a bit of AI, data will be processed and sent back from the cloud to the smartphone with regard to what crops are best suited for the conditions that were scanned. The IoT device scans details such as Soil moisture, humidity, light intensity, location, Temperature and the Weather/Climate.

Agro Innovators wants to grow healthy crops

Around 60% of health issues are caused by pesticides and insecticides used on agriculture crops. Whilst these pesticides and insecticides are used to repel creatures and insects that could harm the crop, they in turn are harmful when congested by humans. Enter Safe Agri. A device used to repel insects and animals using completely healthy methods, thereby alleviating the need for insecticides.

The device uses a lighting system and fan system to repel unwanted intruders along with a blend of plants and herbs as well. It also emits certain soundwaves that repel intruders as well by means of a frequency module. The product was tested out on a 20*20ft area, with another 20*20ft area using traditional methods. Not only did crop A show significant improvement in terms of the health of the crop, but the threshold of the crop increased as well. The team has also created a larger scale device for areas upto 1 acre.

Team Captivator’s approach is to Children in Sri Lanka.

More specifically, 20,000 children in Sri Lanka who die each year from lack of nutrients. These children are unable to access quality health care products and services as they are in rural areas. They also suffer from low economic stability and possess no clear financial plan for education.

The team’s product is called “Give to Get” or GTG. This is a donation platform to accept funds to be given to the underprivileged. They also have virtual donations as well. It has features such as a help portal, and you can also track your donations. You also have in-app awards and you can even share details about your donations on social media.  Proof of donation with the child getting the donation can also be obtained so that you know your donation was received by the correct person.

Team Void’s Smart Irrigation System aims to mitigate problems in crops

More specifically the problem of crops not getting sufficient water, or getting too much water. The product is an IOT empowered Irrigation System.  The device makes use of a Raspberry Pi to record stats such as temperature, humidity and acidity of the land. They also have a web dashboard that provides advanced statistics and reports.

Team Neuron’s idea is to keep swimmers safe.

An issue identified by the team is that in the event of a swimmer drowning, there may not be a lifeguard present or the lifeguard may be too far away or even the swimmer may be too far away. IJX, the product developed by the team makes use of a Drone with a life jacket and/or flotation device attached along with a wearable device worn by the swimmer. If you are drowning or in danger, simply press the button and the drone will lock on to the signal and drop the life jacket and floatation device at your location. According to the judges though, dropping something into the ocean via a drone is illegal. There were also concerns of the Drone’s range out in the ocean and the time taken to respond.

With that, the presentations of the teams that made it to Round One of Inspire Sri Lanka came to an end. The judiciary panel took a small break to pick the Top 5 Teams. Their final picks were:

  • Agro Innovators
  • Datacon
  • Hustlers
  • Neuron Labs
  • Verizon

These 5 teams would go onto the final round of evaluations of Inspire Sri Lanka, to be held at the Google I/O Extended Sri Lanka organized by Mobitel and the Winner of Inspire Sri Lanka 2017 would be crowned there. With tokens of appreciation handed to the judges and certificates of participation handed to the remaining teams, Round 1 Evaluations of Inspire Sri Lanka came to a close. We wish the final 5 teams all the best and may the odds be ever in their favor

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