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Artificial Intelligence

How a Small Town Boy Is Making India Proud With His Incredible AI-Powered Devices

He went to study abroad at 17. But came back with a dream to create a positive impact in the future computing platforms through his innovation.

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Pankaj Raut, co-founder, and CEO at AjnaLens

Do you know Augmented Reality’s (AR) global market is growing rapidly, with an estimated market value of $50 billion by 2024?

There is no doubt that Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality (MR), and Virtual Reality (VR) are taking the technology field by storm.

But, back in 2014, these technologies were unpopular in India, and a techie guy from Sangli, Maharashtra, dared to start his venture based on these new computing platforms.

And he is none other than Pankaj Raut, co-founder, and CEO at AjnaLens.

Currently, AjnaLens manufactures AI-powered mixed reality glasses for education, defense, and enterprise customers.

The Credit Goes to James Bond’s Movies

The Credit Goes to James Bond’s Movies
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“The most important thing about technology is how it changes people.”- Jaron Lanier.

And this is what happened with Pankaj. Before even he could realize it, he had fallen in love with technology. So much that he tried to replicate the techniques that were shown in the James Bond’s movies.

After he completed school, he started looking for colleges offering courses on Mechanical Engineering, Mechatronics Engineering, and Electrical Engineering.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t find any college or university of his choice.

One day, as he was browsing the internet, he came across a UK university offering similar courses.

He got really excited, but that excitement was short-lived.

Because the admission fee to that university was very expensive.

He could’ve easily given up after that, but as a true entrepreneur, he didn’t.

Instead, he took pictures of all the technical experiments that he had done at home, mailed them to the college administrator, and explained his projects and his current situation.

What happened next was beyond his expectations.

He got a reply from the college saying that he could join the college with a scholarship.

A big day for a 17-year-old!

He left for his education to a new city to explore new opportunities, new people, and learn about technology, which he always dreamt of.

How People With Similar Interests Met

How People With Similar Interests Met
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During his studies, he got into many part-time jobs to make a living. And after his college, he joined the engineering firm where he created his first ever 3D scanning system.

Pankaj said his 3D scanning system is still in use in many industries in the UK.

He could have continued his career there and could have made a massive revenue for him and his family, but he chose a different path. Also he was happy that he could contribute to the country that educated him and allowed him to showcase his talent and ability.

But, he wanted to hand out to his motherland. That’s why he returned to India and started his entrepreneurial journey.

Though he knew his destination, he was not sure about where and how to begin.

He wanted to collect the resources and guidance from the mentors and experts. And hence, he registered for an event at IIT Bombay.

At the same event, there were two other professionals, Abhishek Tomar and Abhijit Patil, who shared a similar interest in technology as Pankaj.

And this is how the trio of AjnaLens met and produced excellent AR, VR, and MR products.

The Association of AjnaLens With the Defense

The Association of AjnaLens With the Defense
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Do you know what the prototype of AjnaLens’s mixed reality glasses looked like?

It was huge, says Pankaj.

It weighed around 2Kg with a display, mirrors, and wires. It was in such a state that no one would ever wear it on their head back then!

But later on, the team worked on its design, and now it is available in a much-reduced size.

Pankaj admits that AjnaLens’s significant revenue comes from the defense department of India.

You may be interested to know who approached whom at first?

Well, it was at an event where the AjnaLens could attract a few military soldiers to their store. They got very excited, and within a few days, Pankaj got a call from the defense ministry to explain their products to them.

A proud moment for AjnaLens, isn’t it?

The Contribution Of AjnaLens

The Contribution Of AjnaLens
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Pankaj and his team realized many challenges in the defense system that their innovative solutions could solve.

One such problem was that even though tanks are one of the most secure and robust defense systems, it lacks situational awareness.

The person residing inside the tank has no access to the surrounding environment.

Therefore, he proposed a solution that included installing cameras all around the tank, stitching a 360 image, and streaming it wirelessly to the glasses and then to the person sitting inside the tank.

And hence, the person from inside the tank could get a clear picture of the surrounding.

Pankaj and his team found that the weapons that are in use are electromechanical systems. And they thought of incorporating the AR technology, which could convert the weapons into digital systems combined with radar.

His team also developed AR displays for the soldiers which would guide them on how and where to shoot, on the battlefield.

AjnaLens also developed the AR glasses, which the soldiers could use from training to on-field applications.

What was the feedback of the defense force on AjnaLens’s services?

It was very positive and encouraging for Pankaj and his team. He expressed that the defense force was pleased to use the products developed by an Indian company.

Focusing on Challenges in Designing

Focusing on Challenges in Designing
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He agrees that AR, VR, and MR technologies are not developed and are not functional in full stretch yet. Still, there is a long way to go. And he also believes that the prices are not ideal for the end customer.

Despite these setbacks, Pankaj is satisfied with how AjnaLens could mark its identity in the technology field.

But there are challenges when it comes to the designing of the devices, says Pankaj.

As per him, the devices and electronic components should be:

  • Comfortable for longer usage
  • Smaller in size
  • Appealing to the eyes of the customers

Pankaj and his team make sure that all these parameters are taken into consideration while designing the devices.

You Should Know Your Why

You Should Know Your Why
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Pankaj emphasizes that no one should opt for entrepreneurship if the sole purpose is to earn money quickly and not work under anyone.

He believes that the entrepreneurs should know the answer to their why.

And he also stresses that if one has persistence and a hard-working attitude, no one can stop them from reaching their goals.

TBM wishes Pankaj and AjnaLens to inspire many more Indian youngsters to positively impact society and get India on the front line in technological innovations.

Artificial Intelligence

An ‘Alexa’ for Doctors? Why Not? Said This Techie

He is the mastermind behind the clinical voice assistant tool. And he has a vision of having healthcare professionals with no burnouts.

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Suki, clinical voice assistant tool

Hey Google!

Hey Siri!

Hey Alexa!

Hey Suki!

We’re sure that most of you are aware of the first three voice assistants and are using those in your day-to-day life.

Now, you might be wondering what this fourth one is?!

Well, you will get to know about that in no time but before that; do you know, 

A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine states that physicians spend 27% of their time consulting patients?

And do you know where do physicians spend 49.2% of their remaining time?

It is in doing paperwork! And it also includes the use of the EHR (Electric Health Record) system.

The primary reasons behind physicians’ burnout could be:

  • No help available for doctors and physicians to do paperwork
  • Clinics and hospitals are reluctant to invest in clerical and administrative support

Well, it is! It is totally related to our talks.

There is a technology that can assist the doctors in the monotonous documentation work; saves the precious time of the patients’ as well as their own.

And that technology is Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Leveraging this same technology, a US-based startup founded by Punit Soni has developed a clinical voice assistant named Suki.

Suki app on appstore
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It is aiming to help doctors and physicians with documentation work, and create more time for doctors to treat their patients, which is indeed their primary job.

A brilliant move of technology into the healthcare system, don’t you think?

Also read: Top Impactful Crypto Projects in 2021

The Beginning of Suki

Suki Co founder, Punit Soni
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The co-founder of Suki, Punit, is a techie guy who has served as lead project manager for 8 years in Google, and chief product officer in Flipkart.

He was mainly into the development of mobile applications and games.

So, how did this nerdy techie get introduced into the healthcare system?

It was when he shadowed the doctors in a clinic.

When he was in the clinic, there was a stressful situation wherein many patients were getting treated, and many intense works were taking place.

In such a situation, the most distracted persons he could find were the doctors!

Why?

Because he found them immersed in the documentation work instead of treating the patients.

This was when he came up with the thought of creating a tool that can assist the healthcare professionals in doing the paperwork. And hence they could focus on their patients with more care and empathy.

And in 2016, Punit started his journey in the healthcare industry by launching Suki.

A Much-Needed Tool for Physicians

A Much-Needed Tool for Physicians

How does Suki work?

This clinical voice assistant records, transcribes, and organizes doctors’ conversations with their patients. And then, it completes the data entry that is required for EHR.

By taking care of this tedious documentation process, Suki has enhanced the relationship between a doctor and a patient.

As per a recent white paper published by Suki, this voice assistant has increased the time spent by the doctors with their patients by 12% by cutting down the note-taking time by 76%.

This is undoubtedly a win-win situation for both patients and doctors.

How?

When a happy and stress-free physician spends more time with the patients, treatment would be more effective. And that would cause faster recovery.

And for the doctors, the application of voice assistant brings a financial benefit of  $30,000 or more a year on average.

And hence, Suki, as a tool, has improved the healthcare system by  :

  • Structuring the format of the healthcare management
  • Happier physicians with no burnout
  • Increase in the profit of healthcare organization, and
  • A better outcome for patients

In one of his interviews, Punit expressed that the feedback from the CIO (Chief Information Officer), CMIO (Chief Medical Informatics Officer), and administrators were critical for Suki.

But what mattered to him the most was how Suki would help physicians work professionally and make their lives easier.

He is undoubtedly the rarest technology professional who realized that physician burnout is the most critical public health crisis that had to be addressed.

The Challenges He Had to Face

The Challenges faced by Suki founders
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The journey of Suki was not a cakewalk.

Punit, and his technology team, had little to no idea about how a day would be like in a physician’s life, or they couldn’t spare time to observe and study their workflow.

So, to get access to the data that would help him develop Suki, he took physicians onboard as his colleagues.

Was it an effortless task for him to recruit and keep physicians in his team?

No, not at all.

It became difficult for Punit to create a workspace that could be ideal for both physicians and techies.

But he knew that to make Suki a success, both technologists and physicians had to work hand in hand. Therefore, even though it was challenging to understand each other’s work culture, ethics, and process, it was all worth it in the end.

The next challenge ahead of him was getting permission from physicians to introduce Suki in clinics and hospitals.

But most of the physicians did not agree to use the tool that was built only for them.

Why?

Before Suki, the technology field had developed many tools for physicians but not keeping them in mind.

These tools, instead of easing their work, added more burden on them. They used these tools only because the system forced them to do so.

When Punit approached them with Suki, most of the physicians were hesitant. But he assured them, saying that, if they used it, from day 1, their time spent on paperwork would reduce by 50 – 70%.

And guess what?

Physicians and the healthcare system agreed to welcome Suki.

And hence, it got its entry into the healthcare industry.

Even after Suki’s successful launch, Punit had to address questions regarding his intention behind this tool.

“Are you going to replace doctors with Suki?”, many curious people couldn’t resist but ask him.

He replied with an explanation that Suki has no intention of replacing doctors. But only to assist them so that they could do their job of treating their patients in the best way possible.

How could anyone think of replacing our super strong-minded professional folks, isn’t it?

What’s New in Suki?

Suki gets constant updates
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“It was a tough job to make Suki a reliable, seamless, perfect and consistent tool for healthcare, where one can not entertain mistakes,” says Punit.

He has plans of scaling up Suki and making it even more reliable and efficient.

In this direction, Suki has come up with a newly updated platform that incorporates data collected by Suki and teaches the AI to respond to the users faster and accurately.

And that is S3 or the Suki Speech Service platform. With this new upgrade, doctors can communicate with Suki casually, without confusing it.

Punit has a vision of making Suki an invisible and assistive tool to the healthcare professionals, and hopes that many technologies would show up to upgrade the healthcare industry.

We, at TBM, wish the team of Suki all the best for future endeavours. And hope that Suki would bring a smile on each physicians’ face because they deserve it.

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