He believes great solutions come from small problems. And we can safely add being small has nothing to do with how big you can dream. Fourteen-year-old Arjun’s confidence and conviction will easily put an adult to shame. Already the CEO of his company Lateralogics, this eighth grader from Chennai is giving qualified app developers of the world a run for their money.
Here’s an exclusive first person account of Arjun’s story. Best things do come in small packages. Read on.
I am an eighth grader (student of Velammal Vidhyashram, Surapet in Chennai), and the only child of my parents. I’ve always been greatly fascinated with science and technology. My hobbies include playing shuttle badminton for which I’m undergoing professional coaching. I’m also learning to play the keyboard (western). My interests, other than programming, include Graphic Designing, Web Designing and Artificial Intelligence. I have a passion for research, and hence spend considerable time to learn about the emerging trends and technologies happening around in this fast changing world.
I was lucky enough to get started with computers right from when I was two years old (though I had to take my parents’ help in adjusting the height with a bunch of pillows on the chair). I got exposed to all computer technology areas, including programming, but using age appropriate tools. Later, when I realized that I had a flair for electronics, I started spending time building electronic gadgets.
When I grew up, in my eighth year, I started working on my robotics kit, which helped me practice my programming skills along with my interest in electronics and mechanics. A couple of years back, when my dad bought his first smartphone, due to my curiosity and interest, I started making Android apps using Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s programming tool called App Inventor, and mastered the tool in a short span of time. I am training myself on some of the advanced programming languages, including Python, Java and Android SDK.
I’m thankful to my parents and teachers for their foresight in giving me the right kind of toys and learning tools at each stage of my development. I’m also grateful for their wonderful support and encouragement, and always amazed at their dedication.
I won the first prize in Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s App Inventor App Contest in January 2013, for which I received a Google Nexus 7 tablet and a certificate from MIT. This award was for my first Android app ‘Ez School Bus Locator’ — an innovative Android phone app that helps parents (both with smartphones and ordinary phones) to:
- View the location (live) of their ward’s school bus on a map
- Check whether their ward is present inside the school bus
- Know when (distance and time) the school bus will reach home
The judges praised this app as ‘one of the most creative and well thought out apps of any age group in the contest’! The solution uses bar code scanning so students can check in and out from the bus, GPS to track the bus location and automated SMS messages to keep parents informed! This app comprises two modules — Ez School Bus Locator (Parent) and Ez School Bus Locator (Attender). Once, due to heavy rains, I reached home very late from school and found my parents worried. That is when I thought of developing a solution for this problem (and that is how Ez School Bus Locator was born). I later dedicated it to all parents in this world.
Again in January this year, I won the first prize in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s App Inventor Bug Finding Contest (I shared this victory with Taifun Bar from Costa Rica). The results were announced on 7th January, 2014 by Hal Abelson, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, a fellow of the IEEE, and a founding director of both Creative Commons and the Free Software Foundation. The objective of the contest was to help find major bugs in the new version of MIT’s App Inventor system.
App Inventor is an application originally developed by Google (Part of Google Labs), and now maintained by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It allows anyone familiar with computer programming to create powerful software applications for the Android operating system. I received a Nexus 5 Android smartphone along with a certificate from MIT as the first prize!
My present work
My latest app is ‘i-Safe’ — a women & teen safety mobile app that is my tribute to our young girls and women who face immense challenges to live safely in today’s world. This app is designed to help them in unsafe situations. This app will help women and teens in distress (both with smartphones and ordinary phones) to:
- Send distress calls (SOS messages) with location details to friends and family members whose numbers have been pre-set
- Alert local community (volunteers who have this app installed in their mobile devices and who are in the vicinity of the incident) near the spot to reach out to the person in danger, without having to wait for the police.
I draw inspiration from many great people around us who’ve shown examples of innovation and creativity, including Steve Jobs and Pranav Mistry.
I get excited when Computer Science graduate students and companies from India and in other parts of the world invite me (visit, call, or write) to discuss the design logic of my apps and other programming related topics. Creating a solution for a common problem using technology (by myself) gives me a lot of joy.
My passion for technology led me to start my own Company called LateraLogics — a technology solutions company started with a goal to come up with everyday solutions which will help make our world a better place to live.
Though at present, I’m in the process of building a small team of designers and coders (for remotely collaboration) who carry great passion for building solutions that solve a purpose, my dream is to bring up LateraLogics to be one of the most innovative and successful companies in the world. My company’s motto is ‘Great Solutions come from Small Problems’.
I am most excited about the kind of possibilities that emerging technologies are offering to help us to make lives better. In my journey so far, I was able to interact with many wonderful people in this world. I’ve had many great learnings on entrepreneurship, social media marketing, etc. I’m thankful to all these great people (including my parents, teachers and friends) and the wonderful experiences that helped me towards this.
My message to other young people is this: “Look for problems around you, and get inspired from them. You’ll see a lot of opportunities to use your (own) skills to make this world a better place to live!”