Students develop women safety app to win Marconi Society award

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Android Application called Rakshak, developed by a team from Bharti Vidyapeeth College of Engineering, Delhi, to send help messages in distress has been awarded the top prize by the Marconi Society.

Rakshak detects speech patterns via the audio microphone of the user’s smartphone. When the application detects audio snippets with speech commands requesting help or saying “stop” in distressed tones, it generates SOS alerts and the location of the user, and sends them to emergency contacts specified by the user.

The app is now available on the Google Play store.

The solution took the top prize in the competition organized in India by the Marconi Society’s Celestini Program. The Program, run by the Society’s Young Scholars, is a flagship effort to inspire and connect individuals building tomorrow’s technologies in service of a digitally inclusive world. The Marconi Society and its Young Scholars select universities with promising telecommunications and engineering undergrads and provide them with support and mentorship to help tap their students’ true potential.

“This is the third successful year of the Celestini Program in India,” said Vint Cerf, Chair of the Marconi Society. “We see a clear trend of Celestini Program participants choosing research careers and technology-oriented graduate programs, which helps us fulfill our mission of inspiring the bright minds that will bring the benefits of connectivity to the next billion.”

Piyush Agrawal, Subham Banga, Aniket Sharma and Ujjwal Upadhyay, the crew behind the innovation, were alarmed by the issue of women’s safety in the country. They started with publicly available speech command datasets, such as the Google Speech command dataset, then added speech commands specific to the scenario of women’s safety. They crowd-sourced additional data and open-sourced it as the Indian EmoSpeech Command dataset. This enabled them to detect emotion, background noise, and Indian accents in the audio with improved precision.

The second prize in the contest went also to a team from Bharti Vidyapeeth College of Engineering, Delhi that addressed air quality. Team members Harshita
Diddee, Shivam Grover, Shivani Jindal and Divyanshu Sharma created a privacy-aware smartphone application called VisionAir which uses photos of the horizon
taken from a smartphone to estimate air quality.

The winning team received a cash prize of $1500 and the second-place team receives $500.The Celestini Program India partners with IIT Delhi and is anchored by Dr Aakanksha Chowdhery, a researcher in Google Brain, and a 2012 Marconi Young Scholar.

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