Архив метки: IT

Original, well organized, challenging, with stunning results – SkinHack 1.0 at Skoltech

On November 9-13, Skoltech hosted the SkinHack 1.0 Hackathon on computer vision. The Hackathon was organized by Youth Laboratories, a resident company of Skolkovo Innovation Center IT cluster, together with Skoltech Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, in partnership with Beiersdorf AG, Nvidia, Sberbank and iPharma. A team of Skoltech students won one of the two tracks of the Hackathon.

img_1597The Hackathon challenged algorithm developers and students from top universities in Moscow to work on recognizing and analyzing imperfections of the human skin. SkinHack is the first hackathon in AgeNet series, intended to develop comprehensive biomarkers of aging. SkinHack Hackathon was opened by President of Skoltech, Prof. Alexander Kuleshov, himself a specialist in the field of information technologies and mathematical modeling.

img_1546During the first day of Skinhack, the participants attended lectures on computer vision, machine learning and deep learning given by top professionals from Sberbank (Natalia Romenskaya), Vision Labs (Sergey Milyaev), Insilico Medicine (Alex Zhavorokov, Ivan Ozerov), Youth Laboratories (Konstantin Kiselev), NVIDIA (Dmitriy Konyagin), Beiersdorf AG (Sven Clemann). In addition, the two tasks for the Hackathon were announced – accurate age prediction from facial structure and wrinkles tracking, well-known signs of aging, and criteria to assess one’s physical shape.

img_1615SkinHack is the first hackathon organized at Skoltech this year and has already set a very high benchmark in originality, level of organization and support, caliber of the challenge, quality of lecturers and mentors and level of engagement of academic and industrial communities. SkinHack presented a new approach to organizing the hackathon: the online 24-hours support was provided by the hackathon’s tutors – specialists in machine learning and deep learning from Skoltech, Youth Laboratories, Vision Labs, MSU, Insilico Medicine and MPTI. Every team could consult any tutor, unlike most hackathons where one tutor is assigned to a particular team.

img_175679 participants from Skoltech, Higher School of Economics, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Moscow State University, and National Research Nuclear University divided into 14 teams. SkinHack technical infrastructure allowed every team to perform their calculation and test models on their own Amazon AWS p2.xlarge with Tesla K80 machines, a very advanced computation capacity for an event such as hackathon.

img_1867The unique dataset for the hackathon was provided by Beiersdorf AG (Nivea) and consisted of high quality standardized images linked to age. The prizes of Skinhack included prize fund of 300K roubles, Tesla K40 machine, small prizes from sponsors and a salaried internship at the data science department of Beiersdorf AG (Nivea, Hamburg).

img_1996SkinHack participants demonstrated advanced programming skills. They managed to build an algorithm for age prediction of RMSE 2.42 and accurate algorithm for wrinkles tracking. Teams with the best algorithm performance were awarded money prizes, and the team with the most original approach received a Tesla K40 machine. Next week Beiersdorf AG will announce the winner for internship.

“SkinHack showed great interest in the challenge of detecting signs of aging using computer vision from both big companies and researchers. When we were organizing Skinhack, we did not expect that great interest. The stunning results they obtained in just 2 days are amazing and we now have aspiration to organize more hackathons among talented Russian students”, said Alexey Shevtsov, CEO of Youth Laboratories.

The participants expressed their deep appreciation to the high level of organization, very interesting challenge, supportive staff, excellent mentors and lecturers and they intend to participate in future Hackathons from AgeNet series.

“This Hackathon was a very interesting experience for us. We are excited to see how engaged and concentrated the students worked on the topic”, said Sven Clemann, head of applied biophysics department, Beiersdorf (Nivea).

The winning team in facial micro features tracking task is “Random Noise”, participants Olga Koval (Skoltech), Vladimir Glazachev (Skoltech), Alexey Martianov (MIPT), Shahrukh Athar (Skoltech), and Ksenia Karpova (Skoltech).

The winning team in the age prediction task is “ML SWAT”, participants Arthur Kuzin (MIPT) and Dmitriy Kozlov (MSU Lomonosov).

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8th STRIP Conference proves growth in Skoltech’s innovation activities

img_9122One of Skoltech’s stated goals is to create an environment of innovation and to interface with science, industrial commercialization and venture opportunities. One of the main tools to achieve this goal is the STRIP program, which held its eighth conference on November 15-16.

The Skoltech Translational Research and Innovation program bridges the gap between laboratory and marketplace, with the aim of driving innovation and entrepreneurship in Russia. It provides support for teams, assists the establishment of proof of concept and commercialization, including pre-start up identification of high potential market opportunities, intellectual property management, and, if appropriate, team development.

The first day of the conference was dedicated to the presentations of the 2015-2016 winning projects. Teams’ representatives demonstrated the result they achieved in the past year. The second day was all about the next year. 16 groups of students, researchers and professors presented their projects in-person to the reviewing panel, hoping to be selected to the program.

img_9142The presentations were held in three rounds, each of them dedicated to a different area: IT and robotics; energy, new materials and nano devices; biotech and advanced solutions including wearables. The audience was very much involved, and active debates rose after each presentation. The discussions revolved mostly around questions such as technical feasibility and potential for commercial success. One of the most active participants in the debates was Skoltech President Alexander P. Kuleshov.  The event was supported by invited experts from Skolkovo foundation including Nikolay Suetin, Albert Efimov, Evgeny Sheyenko, Ilia Goldt and external guests from top research and educational institutes of Moscow and Moscow region.

Dmitry Pebalk, manager of the Program, expressed his gratitude to all the participants and guests of the event. From his words, Skoltech community is showing an increasing interest to innovation activities and the number of applications has grown by 30% as compared with the previous year. Moreover, several projects raised from student-driven initiatives and now are ready for serious challenge within the STRIP selection process. Dmitry also mentioned the big potential of collaboration with Skolkovo foundation and already realized the idea to attract mentors from its community who should bring their experience to Skoltech projects and help with further commercialization.

Skoltech scientists have created an algorithm that improves the quality of recommender systems

Prof. Ivan Oseledets the leader of the Skoltech Scientific Computing Group and his PhD student Evgeny Frolov have proposed recommender system, which recommendations are sensitive to both positive and negative users feedback. Their work have been accepted to ACM RecSys 2016 conference. This is a prestigious annual international conference on recommender systems. This year it will take place in Boston in September. Preprint can be found in Arxiv. Читать далее

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Belarusian startup tour

IMG_20160407_094627In the past several years Belarus has earned the reputation of the leading “IT country” in the Eastern European region. The latest success of the Belarusian IT entrepreneurship is MSQRD, the popular face swapping app that was just recently bought by Facebook. Therefor it’s no surprise that the Russian StartUp Tour is crossing the border ever since it began.

On a sunny spring day in Minsk, hundreds of students, researchers and entrepreneurs gathered at the Belarusian State University of Agricultural Technology to attend the different lectures, seminars, mentoring sessions, and of course to network and make connections.

IMG_20160407_115814One of the first speakers was Skoltech professor Dzmitry Tsetserukou, who’s actually a native Belarusian. Prof. Tsetserukou presented Skoltech to the audience that filled the big hall, and told them about the cooperation with MIT, the labs and the stipends for the talented lucky ones who will get to Skoltech. After that Tsetserukou focused on his big love and expertise – robots. He started with the global perspective of the field, and in Russia and Belorussia’s rank in that industry. Then he moved on to the latest innovations in robotics, with particular emphasis on its use in agriculture (after all, it is an agricultural university and besides, agriculture is one of the main themes of the tour this year). Eventually he presented some of the robotic projects done in Skoltech. During his presentation, Tsetserukou was engaging the audience with questions and high energy. Afterwards he was surrounded by students and colleague professors, who wanted further information.

IMG_20160407_120309After the event we asked Prof. Tsetserukou to tell us the secret of his energized presentation. “First of all it’s my home town”, He replied and smiled, “but even more than that, I like my work, I like what I do and I’m highly motivated to make historical achievements. To be a part of this innovation is a great opportunity for me. Another motivation of mine is to make an excellent environment for my students, so the students grow up in an international level laboratory. I saw my students work as a team, encountering problems and solving them together. They were so excited that they couldn’t sleep before project demonstration. The robotics lab is like a home for the students. They are very motivated that sometimes they don’t go home, but stay to sleep in the lab. When you love what you do, you will most likely be successful in your future career in the technology innovation”.

IMG_20160407_125905To sum up we asked Prof. Tsetserukou how he would describe the desired students for Skoltech. “We are looking for motivation and skills. We would like to find the golden standard for Skoltech students to choose the best ones, to make them leaders in technology innovation. We need more such leaders in both Russia and Belarus, so we will have more success stories like MSQRD who will contribute the technology development in our own countries”.

 

So if you think you have the skills and feel the motivation burning in you, we invite you to come to the Open Doors event on April 23rd, or directly apply to Skoltech.

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A delegation from Airbus Group and Philips visited Skoltech

One of Skoltech’s main goals is establishing strong and substantial cooperation relations with key industrial players. Airbus and Philips are most certainly such players, and a delegation from both companies visited Skoltech to establish working relationships and identify promising areas of cooperation. The delegation was led by Dr. Jean Boti, chief technical officer at Airbus group, who soon will takes over as Philips director of  innovations and strategy. Читать далее

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The Shared Rides Revolution: Skoltech Graduates Attempt to Shake Up Taxi Market with Start-Up

Andrii Omelianovych, co-founder and developer of Sharxi, an app which aims to reduce the costs of taxi rides in Moscow. Image courtesy of Sharxi

Andrii Omelianovych, co-founder and developer of Sharxi, an app which aims to reduce the costs of taxi rides in Moscow. Image courtesy of Sharxi (click to enlarge)

With Uber, Gett and Yandex.Taxi already well-known in Moscow, it may seem that there is little room for yet another taxi app, but two Skoltech graduates hope their taxi-sharing start-up, Sharxi, can find a niche.

The goal of Sharxi, developed by Boris Urman and Andrii Omelianovych (15’), is to significantly reduce the cost of a taxi ride by pairing up strangers headed in the same direction. A potential user opens the app, puts in their current location and where they are headed, submits the order, and waits for the system to find other passengers whose planned routes are similar.

Sharxi, which was launched on May 10 and has been downloaded 200 times so far, makes money by contracting with official taxi companies and taking a commission on every ride booked through the app.

The $1 Billion Market

The goal of Sharxi’s founders is to cut the price of an average cab ride in Moscow from 1,050 rubles ($16) to 500 rubles ($7.50), as well as to reduce the number of cars on Moscow’s crowded roads. Particularly, they focus on travelers looking for rides from the city’s three main airports to the town center.

“The taxi market in Moscow is around $1 billion a year, and economy class makes up 55 percent of it. Our goal is to get at least 1 percent of the economy class — about $5 million a year,” Omelianovych told The Moscow Times newspaper.

Statistics from a report about the taxi market in Moscow shown on Russian TV’s Channel One in 2012 also put its value at about $1 billion, but an April report by the Civic Chamber estimated it far higher, at $16.5 billion.

The start-up faces some serious challenges. The idea of splitting a taxi ride via an app is not particularly new. For example, Uber already has a fare-splitting function called UberPool. Additionally, taxi users surveyed by The Moscow Times said that the price of individual rides was not so great as to encourage them to book a shared ride, citing other taxi apps that have reduced the cost of journeys and the desire to go directly to their destination without any detours as factors that would put them off.

But others said they would welcome the chance to save money by splitting the fare, and many of the users who have tried the app, which is currently in Beta testing, were positive about the cost of the service.

Sharxi - a shared rides app (click to enlarge)

Sharxi – a shared rides app (click to enlarge)

The 500 Ruble Question

“I went from Vnukovo [Airport] to Aminyevskoye Shosse [in western Moscow] for 500 rubles ($7.50) — it was fun and fast!” a user who identified themselves as Vakhe wrote on the app’s website.

“Paid 500 rubles for a trip from Domodedovo [Airport] to Vyazemskaya Ulitsa [in western Moscow]. Great! Will definitely recommend to friends and family,” another test user, Lyuba, wrote.

Reviews of other aspects of the service were not so positive, however.

Among the main issues listed by users was the long wait to find another passenger.

“I was waiting for a co-passenger from Sheremetyevo [Airport] to Filyovsky Park [a district in western Moscow] and there was no one, so I had to take a single ride. Luckily I wasn’t in a hurry,” wrote user Ivan.

Another frequent issue mentioned in the reviews was passenger compatibility.

“We are thinking about adding a psychological survey for users, so passengers can be selected by temperament,” Omelianovych told The Moscow Times.

120 Startups

Sharxi is one of about 120 start-ups being developed at Skoltech and Skolkovo, a graduate research university that focuses on entrepreneurship and innovation and is located in west of Moscow.

One of the perks of being residents of Skolkovo, which was founded by former president and current Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as Russia’s ‘Silicon Valley’, is easy access to investors and officials.

Although Urman and Omelianovych’s app has been downloaded only 200 times, they have already presented the app to City Hall’s transport department.

“The state officials said our idea is good but haven’t offered us any deal yet,” Urman told The Moscow Times. “We will keep in touch with them.”

The stiff competition on the Moscow market has Sharxi’s creators looking to Asia to develop the app further.

Last month, Skolkovo provided Urman and Omelianovych with tickets to Hong Kong to participate in the Smart Green Cities entrepreneurship forum at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

“The Asian market is huge and dynamic in comparison with the European one, which is overloaded with services,” Omelianovych told The Moscow Times, adding that he had lived in Seoul, South Korea for six years and is comfortable with the Asian environment.

“Potentially we can boom in Asia, but for that we need internal partners.”

This story is a slightly modified version of an original story about Sharxi which appeared in The Moscow Times. We thank the author and the publication.

 

 

 

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Industrial 3D Printing Research Project Awarded Prestigious RSF Grant

Researchers propose to utilize industrial scale 3-D printing (also called additive manufacturing) in various areas of applicable research such as engineering and biomedicine technology. Photo: Ilan Goren

Skoltech CDISE researchers propose to utilize industrial scale 3-D printing (also called additive manufacturing) in various areas of applicable research such as engineering and biomedicine technology. Photo: Ilan Goren

A proposal for a large scale 3D printing project submitted by researchers at Skoltech’s Center for Data Intensive Science (CDISE) was selected by the Russian Science Foundation (RSF).

Text: Ilan Goren

The proposal, titled “Efficient Methods for Design of Engineering Structures, Products and Meta-Materials“, has been submitted by  Founding Faculty Fellow Prof. Denis Zorin and the Scientific Computing group led by Prof. Ivan Oseledets of CDISE.

The researchers propose to develop new computational techniques and software that can significantly improve industrial scale 3-D printing (also called additive manufacturing).  It is the first time that scientists from the Moscow-based technological and innovation university are awarded funding through this mechanism. Although industrial scale 3D printing is still widely regarded as a novelty, Prof Oseledets believes the technology has the potential revolutionize many more areas of applicable research such as engineering and biomedicine technology.

Prof. Ivan Oseleders, heads the Scientific Computing Group at Skoltech and is one of the researchers that won the Russian Science Foundation grant

Prof. Ivan Oseleders heads the Scientific Computing Group at Skoltech and is one of the CDISE researchers that won the Russian Science Foundation grant

“Domains that could benefit include customized wearable devices, prostheses and scaffolds for implants” commented Prof Oseledets, “as well as material science, for example functional micro-structured materials, and civil engineering applications like freestanding structures.

The RSF competition is designed to provide support for top-priority research areas. Thousands of proposals were submitted to the competition thie year, with a total of 197 projects winning grants. Funding will amount to six million rubles a year (almost $116 thousand USD) over a period of three years.

The Skoltech CDISE project annotation emphasizes that “one of the key advantages of additive manufacturing, compared to conventional methods, is that cost is mostly unrelated to the complexity of the objects. This enables development of novel structures and meta-materials (materials with properties determined by their mesoscale structure) with unique properties.

“Developing such complex structures requires a new generation of computational tools building on the theoretical foundation of topology and shape optimization developed in the past, while integrating new efficient approaches for solving large-scale problems and the practical constraints resulting from requirements of specific manufacturing processes.”

“The project we propose will lead to the development of novel computational techniques and software that has a significant potential to impact additive manufacturing both for engineering and biomedical applications.”

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Shakespeare Meets Autocorrect as Language Technology Comes of Age

Language Technologies final projects: IT students Tatiana Svistova (front) and Anastasia Pukalova presenting their work.

Language Technologies final projects: IT students Tatiana Svistova (front) and Anastasia Pukalova presenting their work.

“In fair Verona, where we lay our scene”.  What would happen if the quintessential opening line from Romeo and Juliet, written by William Shakespeare, was read out as “in fair Moscow..”?

Good question.

Skoltech IT students, with the guidance of Professor Anatole Gershman of the Language Technologies Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, were asked to tackle one of the biggest question in information technology: how can developers harness the immense power of super computers, social networks and sophisticated algorithms to communicate better – not only with the machines but with other people.

The students’ efforts resulted in an array of applications and prototypes, showcased at the Language Technologies final presentations event.

Projects varied from a smart CV writing application that might help you survive the merciless resume screening that companies such as Google or Intel use when they assess job applications; “Moscow Social” – an app that measures the mood in different parts of the city by analyzing emotions expressed in tweets; novelty detection in news articles; an application that recognize’s a film’s name by analyzing one short quote a user might remember (similar to the way the Shazam app identifies whole music tracks from brief samples);  improved text prediction and better ‘auto-correct'; and even poetry reading assistance. Which brings the discussion back to Shakespeare: this app can help people who misread texts by the bard, or any other writer for that matter.

Anatole Gershman who taught the Language Technologies course at Skoltech works at Carnegie Mellon University.

Anatole Gershman who taught the Language Technologies course at Skoltech is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

Prof Gershman: “The  whole point is to develop solutions to real world problems. My experience tells me that nobody learns only from listening to lectures – you need to learn by doing. This is what the course was about and this is what Skoltech is about.

“The students were asked to create six mini-projects and then develop a final big project. Some of the things we have seen here today were very impressive so I cannot wait to see these prototypes grow into commercially viable projects.”

Some of the students said they are in talks with leading communications and IT companies. Others have pitched their projects to polling centers and e-commerce operators.

(Text and Photos: Ilan Goren)

 

 

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