Three students from the Spring 2020 cohort of SCET’s Startup Semester program were among the winning teams of the Google’s Developer Student Club’s Solution Challenge 2020. The goal of the challenge was to “use technology to solve a local problem together with community.” Submissions were accepted from more than 60 countries and 800 universities around the world.

From left to right: Anushka Purohit, Neel Desai, and Anupam Tiwari

Startup Semester students Anushka Purohit, Neel Desai, and Anupam Tiwari developed CoronAI, because they wanted go provide a low-cost way for doctors and nurses to monitor lung function without CT scans, so they could practice “social distancing” like everyone else during the pandemic.

Using a band filled with electrodes the team devised a way to use artificial intelligence to create live images of patient lungs on a monitor, so that doctors and nurses can watch patients with coronavirus and other diseases remotely, and not risk exposing themselves.

Learn more about CoronAI

We followed up with Anushka Purohit, to ask her more about her team’s experience working on the project.

Keith McAleer, Chief Marketing Officer, SCET: Can you tell us about the Solution Challenge? What was the goal? How many students participated?

Anushka Purohit: Developer Student Clubs from all around the world took part in this challenge, with a goal to identify a problem, and simply come up with a solution. The free and open structure of the competition made it both more interesting and more tough, because everyone came up with such important problems to be solved, and even cooler solutions! There were 2 stages of shortlisting, first, 20 teams were selected from all the submissions, and later, the top 10 were announced after interviews. 

KM: What problem was your team working to solve with CoronAI?

AP: The fact that doctors and nurses around the world aren’t able to socially distance, even in such stressful situations. While the rest of the world is told to keep a distance, doctors and nurses have to monitor patients, and unfortunately, can’t do the same. Moreover, we realized that there is a need for patients to be able to self diagnose themselves, so they can simply go to doctors with a specific pain point and indication of what’s wrong, instead of the doctors having to diagnose them first. In this case, they’ll be able to save on the long lines in hospitals, and tend to more patients.

KM: Tell us about your team. What was each student’s role? What did they contribute?

AP: Our team consisted of Anushka, Anupam and Neel. Anushka had prior experience with Electrical Impedance Tomography, so she brought with her this expertise and the ability to create a business from this technology. The three of us created the demo video, Anupam and Anushka created the presentation deck, and this brought the team together. Anupam created the custom machine learning algorithm, to which Anushka attached the electrodes and continued the front end web development. Unfortunately, Neel couldn’t attend the final pitch which led them to winning the challenge, but the three worked hard on creating a small scale prototype. 

KM: Tell us about your technology. How does CoronAI work?

AP: CoronAI uses electrical impedance tomography, to detect scans of organs within the human body, without the need for bulky, expensive machinery. We hope to develop the prototype further to reduce it to a band that can be worn around any part of the body!

KM: Do you have any advice for students who are participating in this challenge next time or in another project-based hackathon challenge?

AP: Do what you’re passionate about, so even through the ups and downs, you’re always motivated to try harder! Hackathons are so much fun, and honestly, the best learning experiences! 

KM: How did what you learned in the Startup Semester program influence the decisions you made?

AP: The Startup semester is where the three of us met, and the three of us completely fell in love with the idea of hackathons and developing projects. Having taken classes together that taught us the importance of both technology and business, we were able to apply it to this challenge.

Congratulations to Anushka, Neel, and Anupam for their hard work and ingenuity in developing this project. Stay tuned to the Google project website for an announcement about a Virtual Demo Day in August.


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