Meet India’s next generation of innovators from Intel’s AI‌ programs for CBSE and government schools

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As Artificial Intelligence (AI) takes centrestage in impacting lives, driving innovation, and boosting economic growth around the world, there’s a very real possibility that India can play a key role in the global AI landscape. From an economic standpoint, AI has the potential to add $957 billion to India’s current gross value in 2035, according to a recent report by Accenture.

To achieve this, however, India needs to build stronger AI skill sets, democratise AI, and create a workforce of the future. And what better way to start than with India’s youngest minds and the next generation of innovators – students.

To that effect, Intel in collaboration with the government and academia is leading several initiatives under the umbrella of digital readiness towards demystifying AI for youth and equipping them with the skills and mindset required for AI readiness.

One of these initiatives, Intel AI For Youth, is an immersive hands-on program that empowers students (8-18 years) to use AI to create meaningful social impact solutions. Through this global program, driven as part of Intel RISE (Responsible, Inclusive, Sustainable and Enabling) strategy, Intel envisions partnering with 30 countries and 30,000 institutions worldwide to empower more than 30 million people with AI skills for current and future jobs, by 2030.

In India, the program in collaboration with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Ministry of Education, includes the AI curriculum for students, setting up focused AI Skills Labs, and creating AI-readiness by skilling facilitators in CBSE schools across India.

So far, the AI for Youth program has reached 1,13,487 students and 12,464 educators across 10,198 schools in 35 states and union territories.

Yet another national program, Responsible AI for Youth was created in 2020 by Intel together with the National e-Governance Division and, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India. Working with government schools across India, it has positively impacted more than 52,628 students from 5,000 cities in 35 states and union territories.

Students as young as 13 are leveraging their new-found skills and harnessing the power of AI to solve critical societal problems in the areas of agriculture, healthcare and education.

Here are the stories of four students – from both private and government schools across India – who are creating innovations for social good.

Puhabi Chakraborty: AthleteX for the Atmanirbhar Athlete

It’s a blistering cold morning in Tripura, India’s ​​third-smallest state, tucked away in the east of the country. That doesn’t deter Puhabi Chakraborty, a class 10 student from Kendriya Vidyalaya NIT, who trains in kickboxing.

Kickboxing isn’t a popular choice when it comes to sports, but as we soon learn, nothing about Puhabi is ordinary.

She is an AI scholar, and one of the winners of the Responsible AI for Youth program for her technology project.

There is a personal story behind her love for technology. As an athlete herself, Puhabi had faced challenges in getting the proper advice regarding an athlete’s diet, exercise, injury detection and prevention.

Understanding the importance and dire need for guidance for athletes, she designed an AI-enabled app called AthleteX that offers personalised physical training guides, injury prevention measures, and more.

Puhabi’s AthleteX app has three solutions built into it – diet, injury detection and mental health help. For the diet mentorship, the app takes into consideration various inputs that include height, weight, muscle percentage, fat percentage and glycemic levels. It then analyses the data and prescribes a diet for the athlete.

For the mental health component, the app leverages a 25-point questionnaire by the American Psychological Association, with points allotted for each answer. “Based on the analysis, if the program finds that the athlete is highly stressed, it will recommend tasks like yoga and meditation,” says Puhabi. She adds that it also has an injury detection and prevention solution that analyses external injuries and provides solutions for recovery.

Puhabi aspires for a career in academia, as a teacher of mechatronics – a field, she says, has attracted a lot of attention and funding.

Varun Arora: AI-powered reading assistant for learners 

Varun, a grade 11 student from DPS Bangalore, has loved building stuff since the age of eight, using Lego blocks. He took this passion further, leveraging a platform called Mindstorms to create a programmable version of the Lego object – setting him off on his coding journey.

Since then, he has created several AI-enabled projects and was a participant in Intel’s AI Global Impact Festival. Along with other AI for Youth students, he has set up an online hackathon under EconHacks Bangalore. He has also worked as a consultant to provide AI-based solutions to companies. 

Of all his AI projects, Varun is most passionate about his reading assistant. 

“I built the reading assistant because schools were shut down during the pandemic and a lot of children were deprived of the guidance required to learn how to read,” he says. 

While there are existing apps in this space, they usually increase a child’s screen time. Varun, therefore, built his AI reading system that would function as a teacher and help students learn how to read without having to use a screen. 

The reading assistant combines two domains of AI – natural language processing (NLP) and computer vision. “Once you take a picture of the page, the app maps out all the words and the locations of these words. The child would then point to whatever he or she is stuck at, and the app would help the reader with the pronunciation,” says Varun.

“Without Intel, honestly, I would be clueless about AI right now,” he says, talking about how Intel helped build and channel his passion for AI. “I still remember the first session where we played games like mystery animal and AI-powered rock, paper, scissors. It was interesting to see how AI was being used. That's what got me curious,” says Varun.

Vaibhav Dewangan: Computer Vision Weed Detector

Weeds cost Indian agricultural production over USD 11 billion each year (Gharde et al., 2018). In general, weeds present the highest potential yield loss to crops. They compete with crops for sunlight, water, nutrients, and space. In addition, they harbor insects and pathogens, which attack crop plants. 

Hence, the removal of weeds is an important task of crop protection. However, identifying different types of weeds and separating them from among the crops is an uphill task. 

Vaibhav Dewangan, who hails from the small village of Narra in Chhattisgarh, is a student of Government Kuldip Nigam Higher Secondary School. Coming from a family of farmers, he has worked in the fields and has first-hand experience of the problems posed by weeds. This prompted him to use the concepts of AI in designing a model to differentiate between weeds and crops.

Besides identifying different types of weeds, the model also provides related information like their properties, the number of crops affected, and prevention and removal measures. The model is pre-fed with numerous images and videos of different types of weeds and is trained to identify them. Using computer vision technology, it can analyse images to identify the weed type. It also displays the probability of the prediction made by it. 

The model can also be deployed on any IoT device like a drone which can take pictures of crops and spray weedicide if needed. It can be very helpful to farmers by eliminating the time-consuming task of weed identification.

Ashwin JB: AI Blind Stick

Ashwin, a student of Excel Public School in Kerala, had his first brush with robotics when he came up with a cleaning robot in class 6. The next year, he was given a robotics kit, and there was no looking back. 

“My school always promoted robotics with competitions and science exhibitions. I've also been a part of the Robotics Club in school,” says Ashwin.

“I was never interested in coding, until class 11 where it was part of the syllabus. So that's when I started learning coding. And I realised how fun and interesting it was,” he adds.

Ashwin credits Intel’s Responsible ‌AI‌ ‌for‌ ‌Youth‌ program for his passion for AI projects like the AI Blind Stick. “The program started from the basics, relating AI to real life, everyday things, how AI works, and how it's related to the human brain,” he says. 

“What I liked most was how they taught us in achievable, incremental steps. It was always progressive, rather than exponential, and they made sure that it was a lot of fun,” he adds.

Ashwin’s AI Blind Stick is a cane with a camera attached. It detects objects and alerts the user if there's anything close by or approaching it. “The stick has two buttons – one which records videos for evidence if the person is in any sort of danger and an SOS button that sends a notification to the emergency contact,” he says.

“Our mentors not only helped in building solutions, but also in filing patents,” he adds.

Ashwin has a patent application in his name for the AI Blind Stick – and is possibly the only person in his class with a patent.


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