Student Spotlight: ThirdEye Technologies Develops Product to Assist the Blind

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“Think about what you did yesterday. Have something in mind? Now think about how that something would be different if you were blind…. Difficult to imagine, no?” college entrepreneur Rajat Bhageria asks in a self-published Forbes article. He continues, “You see, we often take our eyes for granted, when in reality we’re almost dependent on sight. In fact, the lives of visually impaired persons are significantly different than our own, with independence being one of the main problems. But what if we could change that?” From this understanding, ThirdEye Technologies was born. The technology, which Rajat co-founded with fellow Penn students Joe Cappadona and Ben Sandler, came from the desire to equip the blind and visually impaired with the independence they deserve.

We spoke with Rajat Bhageria about their venture, and learned more about the companies accomplishments, challenges, and where they hope to see ThirdEye in the future.

The team at the Wharton Business Plan Competition Venture Finals in April 2015. They took home both the “Most Disruptive Award” and “People’s Choice Award”!

 

ThirdEye Technologies: From Product Ideation to Market

 

Caption: ThirdEye – Google Glass Demonstration

This Philadelphia-based nonprofit commercializes a product to assist the visually impaired and provide them with the independence they deserve. Rajat, Ben, and Joe formulated ThirdEye Glass during a weekend hackathon. The technology initially leveraged Google Glass to verbally identify what the wearer is looking at. Sometime later, the idea pivoted. While the product was a success, landing ThirdEye a partnership with the National Federation for the Blind, the team saw some limitations of wearables.

“The problem with wearables is that they’re immature in the market, and they’re expensive,”  said cofounder Rajat Bhageria in an interview with TechCrunch.

Their focus pivoted to a mobile platform, which uses object and text recognition to identify what the user is pointing their device towards. This product has many practical applications. Take for example, if a blind or visually impaired person were to open the fridge and grab a condiment, how are they to confirm which bottle they’ve picked up? By using ThirdEye’s object and text recognition capabilities, they could learn that they are holding a bottle of Heinz Ketchup.

After developing their product at the hackathon, the ThirdEye team took to networking in order to plot their next move as a business. The team sought out entrepreneurs and other professionals to learn exactly what it takes to bring the product to market. Being a college start-up, they utilized their school’s resources to do just that.

“Having very few contacts with successful entrepreneurs, for the next few weeks we lived on our school’s alumni directory. Whenever we found anyone–entrepreneurs, founders, medical personnel, CEOs, friends, and investors–we would pitch them and ask for advice on how to go forward” Rajat explained in another self-published Forbes article. Through networking with alumni and other key players at Penn, the ThirdEye team gained the entrepreneurial know-how – along with funding for their new venture.

However, Rajat explained of the company’s structure, “The thing to keep in mind is that we’re not doing ThirdEye to make money (in fact I would argue it’s one of the worst businesses purely from a financial standpoint); we were doing it to make as much impact as possible and we thought that the non-profit route would help us with that goal. After that it was just cost-benefit analysis: the major benefit was that since we were non-profit a lot more people and organizations would want to help us and we would get access to a lot of grants. The costs were that we could give out dividends to shareholders and had to reinvest all earnings into the company (which was what we wanted to do anyways).” Through this strategy, ThirdEye demonstrates their altruistic intentions in bringing some semblance of independence to the blind and visually impaired.

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Object Recognition

Ultimately, Rajat told OCM, ThirdEye aims to have a global impact. “I think what’s next is just continually expanding internationally. Right now we’re mainly in America on iOS but increasingly the rest of the world is getting access to Android smartphones so we want to expand to India, China, and Brazil mainly right now.”

How You Can Start a Business in College

Rajat also shared some advice with OCM to other students looking to start a business in college. He explains: “I think the main piece of advice is that everyone is willing to help you — so reach out to as many people as you can for advice. Innovation really is a network game and who you know matters so it’s important.” Rajat found resources such as medical professionals and entrepreneurs through his university’s alumni directory. Reaching out to those with experience – be it entrepreneurs or industry insiders – can greatly assist you both intellectually and financially.

“Another major point would be that when you’re in college there are a lot of organizations who will help you so make sure to take advantage of all the resources (like free legal services at the local firm instead of spending 10k there, etc),” Rajat continued. Resources vary from school to school, but almost all of them offer some type of support for budding business – from something small like a regular library break-out room for meetings, to research and funding opportunities.

If you’re looking to start a business in college, check out our infographic. It will guide you through the steps, from ideation to implementation. Paired with Rajat’s advice on networking and utilizing your campus’ resources, you’ll be well equipped to start your own business in college!

 

We thank Rajat and the ThirdEye team for their efforts to assist with the blind and visually impaired, and we’re excited to watch this company continue to grow after their university years.

 

To keep up to date on ThirdEye’s business, check out ThirdEye here or follow them on Facebook.

 

5 Ways to Kill the Instagram Game This Fall

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Instagram in Fall

With the change of seasons, social media introduces an opportunity for new themes, aesthetics, and inspirations — especially on Instagram! Whether you’re going on a hayride, visiting a haunted house, or just lounging on campus with a mug of hot cider in hand, autumn offers ample opportunities for great photos. Make sure you’re keeping up this fall season with these key tips.

1.) Cool down your filters!

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All those bright, colorful filters were great for summer. Now it’s time to change things up for fall with some cooler-toned, more mellow filters.

2.) Utilize cute fall-wear!

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If you just happen to be wearing your boyfriend-fit flannel and perfectly worn boots, it might not be a bad day to snap a cute fall themed pic.

3.) Photograph your favorite fall treats!

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Breaking out your baking skills with some apple pies, pumpkin spice cookies or any other fall-esque goodies? Add a fall flair- like this crust adventure I went on over the summer, or maybe a decorative mini pumpkin off to the side- and snap that fall-icious pic!

4.) Play with foliage!

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Here, I am quite literally playing with foliage. It’s the most beautiful time of the year, and the most easily photographed for a perfect Insta!

5.) Document your favorite fall activities!

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Going apple picking? Planning a stroll through the pumpkin patch or local corn maze? Bring your camera and get ‘gramming!

What have been some of your favorite ways to get creative on Instagram this fall?

 

KrafftIT’s Inhale App Helps You Mitigate the Effects of Air Pollution

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KrafftIT Student Spotlight

Knowing that air pollution is an increasing environmental concern is to understand that air quality directly correlates to quality of life. This is just what KrafftIT co-founder Fredrik Krafft discovered one day when he was on a run in downtown Los Angeles. Krafft felt the debilitating effects that air pollution had on his workout, and aimed to find a solution. We spoke with Fredrik’s co-founder Kyle Walden about their inspiration for the business, as well as how his coursework at University of Southern California factored into running a start-up.

Recognizing a Need in the Market for Accessible Air Pollution Data

“Fredrik wished there was a tool that would make air, essentially, visible,” explained Walden. The LA dweller sought out apps and other resources that would tell him when was a good time to work out in metropolitan areas (according to the current air conditions), but was disappointed at the lack of publicly-accessible information out there. That’s when he and his co-founder decided to take this matter into their own hands.

Walden clarified, “The solution was to take advantage of how pretty much everyone owns an iPhone, and develop a smart phone app ‒ a device that people use daily ‒ [because] air quality is a metric that people should check daily as well!” From this, the Inhale app was born. By aggregating data from governmental organizations, the app helps users determine when is a good time to work out outdoors in areas that are more densely populated. To this end, it helps users mitigate the effects of air pollution, including pollen and ozone pollutants.

KrafftIT Inhale App Co-Founders

KrafftIT Inhale App Co-Founders Kyle Walden and Fredrik Krafft

 

Business Classes Helps Co-Founder Kyle Walden Apply His Real-World Experience

Walden also found that his classes at University of Southern California fostered his ambitions for KrafftIT; helping him apply real world context to his coursework. He explained, “I am in the business school and most of the classes I take relate to my start-up. So my start-up basically becomes my homework, my exams, and my class curriculum. I also think it makes me learn more effectively since, whenever I am learning about a business concept, instead of using the various examples in my textbooks, I just think ‘How would this work for KrafftIT?’. Or ‘We experienced this problem, so I can really relate to that point’. I find learning much easier that way, and also my relationships with my professors outside of the classes that much more meaningful.”

Walden also mentions that for him, the experience of starting his own business and creating the Inhale app has been more valuable than working at traditional internships. He stated, “For me, one of the main pulls for working in a start-up was having that strong sense of purpose, autonomy, mastery, and responsibility that I just didn’t really feel like I was receiving from traditional internships. Why wait two or four years to make an impact on the world for the better?”

 

Inhale App for iPhone

Inhale App for iPhone

 

No Resources on Campus for Your Startup? Create Your Own!

As for his advice to college entrepreneurs? Walden urges that students take advantage of all of the resources that are available to undergraduates that are otherwise not available to young professionals. But even if your campus doesn’t boast the exact resources needed for your business, he urges: “Here is my favorite part: if there isn’t [any resources], start it yourself. Become an entrepreneur by building a startup community/resources within your campus. Do it with your friends as a side-hustle or a fun little project. You won’t believe where it might take you. Just a reminder: Uber started as a side-hustle.”

 

For more info, visit KrafftIT’s website, and follow along on Facebook and Twitter to receive the latest updates on the Inhale app.

10 Tech Tools Every College Kid Needs

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Slow-running computers with bulky headphones and outdated programs are not going to help you succeed. Having the right kind of technology on your side can make or break you – especially during your first year of college. Whether it’s from making life in the dorms a little bit more bearable, or ramping up your productivity in major ways, these are the tech tools every college kid needs!

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  1. Noise-Canceling Headphones

Picture this: it’s your first night in the dorm rooms. You’re crazy excited, your roommate seems pretty awesome, and your bed is surprisingly comfortable. But as soon as the lights go out, you hear it — the loud, piercing snore of your roommate. What are you going to do? That’s where noise-canceling headphones come in. Whether you’re trying to get some sleep or need a bit of extra concentration while at the library, having the ability to drown out sounds is a blessing in itself.

  1. Productivity Software

We’re all guilty of putting something off to the last minute or falling trap to a Facebook distraction. If you find yourself way behind, check out apps like StayFocused, you can download on your computer that block out social media for certain periods of time or until you complete a task.

 

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  1. Digital Scheduler

Those ugly, plain day planners are out and your phone is in! By switching to a digital scheduler or planner, you can have all the information you need at the touch of your fingers. With so many to choose from, you can find one that matches your style and busy schedule needs. Or you can opt for a basic, no non-sense program like Tomorrow.Do, which gives you a short-term to-do list synced to your devices.

  1. Group Project Organizer

What if it’s not just your day that needs organizing? If you’re working with a group on a project, managing everything and keeping track of who does what or certain milestones can be an even bigger challenge. Set up your group using sharable tech such as Google Drive’s Docs, Sheets, and Presentations. Or, go even higher tech with more options like chatting abilities and project management with free-to-use Evernote or pay-to-use Basecamp.

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Digital Planners have come a long way!

 

  1. Laptop Theft Protection

Laptop thefts are a reality even on the safest of campuses. If you plan to use your expensive computer outside your locked dorm room, arm yourself with a laptop lock. These locks hook into your computer’s USB or charger ports and then has a cable that wraps around a leg of a desk or stationed table. For the lower price, it certainly will give you peace of mind.

  1. Notetaker

Maybe you’re a traditionalist who just loves to get their hands in everything, or maybe you’re a tactile learner who remembers information best when you are scribbling notes down. Either way, using a laptop to take notes is probably not helping you remember that biology lecture any better. That’s where a notetaking pen comes in! These digital pens work with apps on your touchscreen laptop or tablet to give you the real experience of notetaking — just like you did in grade and high school. You’ve got to love apps that make something you love that much better and easier!

 

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How to Keep Your Laptop Safe in College

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An important (and expensive) item you will bring with you to college is your laptop. But with danger of a laptop breaking or being stolen, it can be daunting to tote such an item around in public where it may be vulnerable. Instead of being afraid or overly cautious, stock up on tech accessory paks and follow these steps to ensure your laptop is safe in college.

Rule #1: Never Walk Away

Being on campus and feeling a part of the community can give you a sense of security. But while it’s wonderful to feel safe, the truth is that theft happens in places you least expect it to. Even high traffic areas such as a library, cafe, or student union have become prime target areas for laptop thieves. Prevent the opportunity to steal your most precious commodity by keeping it by your side at all time. This includes when you are grabbing your coffee or chatting at another table with a friend.

Rule #2: Consider How You Carry It

For some, protecting the computer from spills or falls is the most important thing. In that case, invest in a good, thickly padded laptop case that is easy to carry around on your back. On the other hand, if you are more concerned with theft, a laptop bag may become a target. In this case, a normal backpack or purse is a better concealer and less likely to be targeted.

Rule #3: Turn It Off

Forgetting to turn your laptop off when you are done may not seem like a big deal. However, your laptop’s delicate parts need time to cool off and reset. Keeping your computer on runs the risk of burning key pieces out. In addition, if you were to drop your laptop on your commute to and from classes, it will be more likely to break if the computer was running than if it was turned off. Finally, if there was to be an outage or surge, having your computer turned off can save it from power issues.

Rule #4: Be Password Safe

Your personal information is never safe when it is stored carelessly on websites and/or protected by easy-to-guess passwords. Lock your computer and your information up by using passwords that contain a variety of characters. Additional tips include changing your passwords frequently, and using different ones for a variety of accounts.

Rule #5: Lock it Down

Those who really value safety may want to consider investing in a laptop lock. These locks look and work just like a bicycle lock would, attaching to your laptop by tethering to your desk or leg of a stationary classroom table with a strong cable. Those who want to steal your computer will need to do a ton of work to get past this safety measure.

You need your laptop for schoolwork, taking notes during class, and entertainment during free time. But why run the risk of leaving your possessions in danger? Following the five steps of laptop safety, you can ensure that your computer will be guarded from hazardous situations.

Do you follow any of these rules to keep your laptop safe? Let us know!

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The Top 5 Apps on My Phone

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Have you ever wondered what apps other people might be using? As someone who’s constantly on the lookout for new things, apps have been added to my list of “discover” items. From books, to music, to trends, to apps, I’ve always had a desire to be the person who finds cool things to share with others (I guess blogging is a good niche for me, huh?). The thing with apps is that there are so many, it’s overwhelming! So I always appreciate when someone does the work for me and lists off what’s been working for them.

 For today’s post, I decided to try something new and share 5 of my favorite apps! And I’m not talking about the basic ones (everyone knows about Instagram already, right?). I’m sharing the fun ones that you might not have heard about!

1. Afterlight (for the photographer)

If you ever want to know how I edit my photos on Instagram or Facebook, you can be sure it went through Afterlight. I often combine this with A Beautiful Mess, but this is my tried and true photo editing app. It’s easy to use, offers every option you could desire (crop, tilt, grain, contrast, you name it!), and has some awesome filters that aren’t overbearing!

2. Vurb (for the local explorer)

 

This is a recent find for me, but I’m already forming multiple “decks” of activities/cafes/places to do or check out. Vurb is an app that helps you find things to do in your area and keeps it all neatly stored. For example, I’ve found multiple cafes, bars, hiking trails, and places of interest around the city that I’ve been able to save and organize into “decks.” You build up your decks with Vurb cards containing information about whatever you’re looking into, and these include information gathered from other sources (such as Yelp reviews, Google Map directions, Rotten Tomato ratings, and so on). It’s super handy and I’m excited to continue using it for whenever I pass through a new location!

Oh, and bonus, it keeps you up to date with trending video clips, tv shows, and popular songs – such a cool feature.

3. My Fitness Pal (for the dieter)

 

Now when I say “diet”, I mean it in it’s most basic definition. Whatever you’re putting into your body is your diet. I’ve never been one of those girls who monitored her calories so strictly and did a water-and-air diet. No, I’m a sturdy girl who relied on high school sports to keep me in shape. However, high school is long over, and I’m not longer running 2 hour long basketball practices five days a week… I’ve managed to stay fairly active while in college, yet my diet has faltered since moving out of my parents house. No longer do I have a Filipino mother to fill my belly with mouth watering delicious and healthy foods (insert tears here).

However, since downloading My Fitness Pal, I’ve been able to keep better track of what I’m ingesting, and it’s so easy to use! You can even add in your exercise for the day and it will calculate how many calories you’ve burned. It’s basically the app version of a food journal, which is a helpful method in staying aware of what you’re eating.

4. Handpick (for the broke college cook)

If you’re a college student who’s lucky enough to have access to a kitchen, then you should really learn to stay in and cook your own meals! But how many of you have played that game where you go into the kitchen, open the fridge door, and stare into the sparse interior and think “I have one apple, a half eaten container of yogurt, and a molding head of lettuce…what am I going to make with that?”

I’m not a natural cook and always have to look up recipes for ideas. Handpick is an app where you can search for whatever food item you have in your fridge and it will pull up recipes with those ingredients. It searches through thousands of threads that involves everything from Instagram, to food blogs, to recipe sites! So you’re sure to find something you like, because Handpick not only shows you the latest food trends, it will start to personalize what recipes are highlighted for you based on your preferences!

5. Weather Whiskers (for…everyone)

If you’re an animal lover, just go download this app. Because who doesn’t love a cat in a bow and tutu? No one. Absolutely no one. Oh, and the pictures and cats change based on the weather.

You’re welcome.

What did you think of this post? Any apps that have been super handy for you? Let us know in the comments below!