Tuesday, 11 June 2013

I,We & WeChat

So that was just another day which was about to end in just another night. Nothing new throughout the day except for a few more hits on the blog, a few quirky tweets on twitter, a little bit of wayward chatting on Facebook and the latest post which I published on the topic that I always find inquisitive - Artificial Intelligence(AI). As it turned out, I was once again able to muster all my ramblings in one single post and was able to publish my ideas about a future would be very much different from what we live in. A future which seems ludicrous, I mean with your washing machines walking to the clothes,picking them up and soaking them on their own, to your very smartphones hovering towards the nearest electrical socket to get some, what I'd say, Fresh Air ! Whenever I think of AI, I think of the magic that is hidden in computing, but which is unveiling only in paltry parts. I imagine things, I envisage the enigma of those futuristic times, I even savor the delectable magnificence of that ultra modern life, but I fail to do anything when it comes to doing my bit in turning it into reality or at least evangelizing people in believing that such a reality may even exist someday. It was 0120 hours and somnolence was about to engulf me in its mellifluous bliss. And that's when it all started.

The great inventor Graham Bell.
It was a notification on my cellphone. A notification from what I think of as my Complete Communications Center(CCC) - The WeChat App. It was a Look Around request from someone who was either in my apartment or in some nearby place. Look Around is a spectacular WeChat service that allows you to connect with new nearby friends who are present on WeChat. So, this particular request was from some guy whose name was "Bell, Graham". And not surprisingly, he was using a picture of the great and erudite innovator who changed the way we communicate.

A snippet of WeChat's Look Around feature.

I simply knew that this was an attempt of a posthumous impersonation but still, courtesy of my joviality, I accepted this request and allowed this guy to communicate with me. He immediately started a chat with me whose transcript goes as follows :


Bell, Graham : Hey, hows you doing pal ?

Me : Well, killing time. What else to expect from someone awake at this hour of the night ?

Bell, Graham : Well, I used to experiment with the my models of telephone voice signal transmission during the nights only. I am a nocturnal innovator, you know ?

Me : Kill the buck man. This is too much. 

Bell, Graham : So, you believe I'm not the real Graham Bell ?

Me : Your monomania has certainly taken over you :D

Bell, Graham : Feels funny, no ? Check your mail and then do what your instinct demands you to do. Feel free to ignore all that has ensued and revert back to your old times. But remember, this is your last chance. 


I was about to issue a diatribe but then I let it go. And as usual, I moved towards my system to check my mails. Even though I receive more spam than mail, I still do that for a reason not apparent to me. So, the first mail was sent a few seconds ago. And what it contained was somewhat bemusing for this time of the night. It was a WeChat Group Chat request with the QR code of a group. WeChat allows users to create a unique QR code for a Chat group and then invite new friends to the Group by sharing the QR code with them. It can be shared via email as well. The new entrant just has to scan the QR code and then connect with the group.

WeChat's Group Chat QR code feature.

WeChat's Web WeChat feature.
So, ostensibly this request came in from the guy who discovered my presence on WeChat moments ago. I was a little reluctant to join this group. Although new WeChat groups have been fun but this one had an eeriness, skepticism and notoriety associated with it. But there was still something enigmatic about it. I opened Web WeChat on my system. Web WeChat allows users to bring WeChat from their smarthphones to their browsers and allows them to benefit from the system's accessibility. I straightforwardly scanned this Group QR code and joined this new group.

         Connecting to a new WeChat group. 
So this new group appeared to be a reminiscent of our history. All the members had black and white photographs. And not surprisingly, all these snaps belonged to some of the greatest inventors of all times. The group had 8 guys in total and all of them seemed to have formed a canny WeChat group which supposedly mimicked discussions  between these noble gentleman. I joined the group and the one to commence the chat was Bell again.


Bell, Graham : I'm glad your alacrity helped you to connect with us. You will be a changed man after this session consummates. 

Me : Haha. Yeah, Why not. :P

Guglielmo Marconi
Marconi, Guglielmo : Hey there pal. Glad you joined us. 

Me : haha. So we have the inventor of wireless transmission as well. I mean you guys are so very wow. 
Marconi, Guglielmo : Yeah. Radio and everything was cool you know, but I also enjoyed being an Italian Senator :D

Me : Yeah. Would've been quite cool you know.  :)

Marconi, Guglielmo : Hey, in case you want to know more about my ingenious Marconi's Laws and everything, I'll tell you. Books don't teach things as easily as the law's very patriarch can explain, you know. :D
Philo T Farnsworth

Me : I'd be obliged :)

Farnsworth, Philo : Hey Marconi, these young lads know nothing bout our methods. I bet this guy doesn't know how his own TV works. And I'm pretty certain he has no idea how brilliant is the pristine picture tube in his TV,  which is more or less an imitation of that made by me :D :D

Me : I know that for sure, Sir. I know how impeccable was the first TV you developed.

Charles Jenkins

Jenkins, Charles : Hey, dun you take all credit for the TV. 
I too made a TV, so what if mine was more mechanical than  electrical. It was a TV, nonetheless. And I was also the first person to run a motion picture on a projector. My own indigenous projector :D

Farnsworth, Philo : Relax dude. I never took all credit for it. This wackymedia thing still portrays both of us as inventors of television so just chill. But as you know, I also made the first video camera tube and I devised my own nuclear fusion device as well. Feels like god, you know :D

Jenkins, Charles : It's wikipedia actually :P
Charles Babbage

Babbage, Charles : Stop it you two, please. Let the lad interact with others who form the constituents of this invincible group. Hi, I'm Charles, the inventor of the difference engine, the first mechanical computer, if you may call it :D

Me : Oh C'mon. Everyone knows you and I'm a computer engineer after all. You have evangelized so many souls to take up computing and to improve it generation by generation :)

George Eastman
Eastman, George : Computers may be cool but what's life without a camera ? Hi, I'm George, not really the inventor of the camera in the conventional sense, but the one who made cameras become a common thing. World would have been so dull without them, won't it ?

Me :  Yeah. It certainly would have been banal. But don't just shy away from saying that you were also the co-founder of the Kodak company. Inventor + Successful entrepreneur. Lethal combo :D

Alessandro Volta

Volta, Alessandro : Oh C'mon, now. His cameras would've been futile if I hadn't invented the electrical cell. Who would have used a camera that would connect directly to the socket and which cannot be carried anywhere. LOL.  Imagine people using a long wire that they would connect to their home socket and carry the cable all the way with them. A world full of wires. I'm legend. :D \m/ \m/

Nikola Tesla

Tesla, Nikola : Bitch Please. And what would have been your cells if there wasn't anyway to transmit electricity. You would have charged them from the power plant itself :P Hi, I'm nikola. The, or shall I put it this way, "The" inventor of the electrical transmission system and a gargantuan pioneer in the field of radio,induction motors, X-ray and a plethora of other things. I have the power, literally :D

Bell, Graham : Oh please, don't brag about your legendary inventions which this guy would have studied of in a multitude of books. Let's come to the point and help this lad with his life and future. 

Me : You guys are still adamant in helping me. Wow, this seems surreal. All the legends are here to help me out. But wait ! Help me out on what ?

Marconi, Guglielmo : Kid, you know what's the purpose of having only us 8 in this cohort of inventors and not having all those glorious veterans who served as our counterparts in other intriguing fields ? 

Me : Nopes. No idea at all ! 

Farnsworth, Philo : Pick that smartphone of yours lying 2.4 cms from the keyboard.

Me : Hey, it's actually lying there. This isn't a WeChat video call so how do you see me ?

Jenkins, Charles : Just pick it up.

Me : Okay, I'm holding it in my hands. 

Babbage, Charles : So now it's show time.  The processor and all the computing inherent in that device was something that I dreamt of.

Eastman, George : The camera in that device is something that I envisaged.

Volta, Alessandro : The cell in your device is an advanced manifestation of my own imagination :D

Tesla, Nikola : Your phone would never run if if wasn't for my AC transmission system that brings power to your house. :)

Marconi, Guglielmo : Those GSM signals, that Wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity would never have existed if it wasn't for my scintillating laws and creations :D

Farnsworth, Philo : And that screen of your phone would never have arrived if it had no predecessor in the form of my TV screen.

Jenkins, Charles : Excuse me. It's our TV screen. :D

Bell, Graham : And last but not the least, the phone itself wouldn't have been possible if it wasn't for the one I built more than  a century ago. It has evolved, but it has evolved from what I once produced.

Tesla, Nikola : All in all, we wanted to emphasize on the fact that your smartphone would not have existed if it wasn't for our ideas. Our ideas fueled our imagination and our imagination motivated us to create, and what we created is now a desideratum of humanity. 

Volta, Alessandro : It's mainly about ideas my friend, but if you do nothing about them, those ideas will die with you. Let them spawn, let them ripe. Do something about them than just refining and rectifying them.

Eastman, George : Even if you cannot turn your ideas into reality, share them with others. Your very idea may at least see the daylight that it needs to burgeon into something more comprehensive. 

Babbage, Charles : If all of us had held back on our ideas and dreams like you are at this point of time, people would have still communicated using pigeons and still used their abacuses to multiply. 

Farnsworth, Philo : You know the potential of your idea only when you give that thing a try. People get lulled with cynicism and critique, they will mock you, they will refute you, they will term you as naive and gullible, they will consider you a tyro but someday or the other, they are no longer able to resist the temptation of using your creation, and no longer able to hold themselves from appreciating your perspicacity. That is the day your idea becomes a cult, and your dream becomes a reality. 

Jenkins, Charles : You find AI inquisitive, you have your own set of ideas to do something in that realm. Either do those things or unveil the ensemble in front of this world. Your ideas and your contemplation should never ever go in vain. Its those niche ideas and those palpably preposterous assumptions that one day shall change this world.

 Bell, Graham : To sum it up my friend, Never ever give up on your ideas, no matter how much of an ordeal you need to go through. Let your ideas speak for themselves, let your imagination foster that cult. Good Luck. :)


And suddenly, the once feeble sound of that door knock became more evident. It was 7:55 in the morning. I had no idea when I fell into sleep. The conditions that preceded my sleep were so soporific after all. It wasn't that comfortable a sleep, courtesy of me having slept on the computer chair itself, but I kinda felt a new surge of energy afterwards. A unique sense of indefatigableness that I never felt before. I hovered my head towards the computer screen which had went blank due to inactivity. I brought my pc out of sleep mode and tried to retrospect on all that happened during the last few hours. The post I published off late was still open in one browser tab. The other tab had Web WeChat open on it. I was simultaneously chatting with a few buddies while compiling the post so this was normal. No sign of any other peculiarities obviated the need to question on that matter. What I saw was just another whimsical yet vivid dream.

It's time to get back to work. First, lets check the WeChat Drift Bottle sea for any new messages. This adorable feature is an emulation of the ages old communication paradigm. You throw a bottle containing a message in a sea and someone would pick it up and read it. A kind of message multicast. So there are a few new messages. Some say good morning, some contain rhetorical verses which a friend of mine has an amazing avarice for reading and forwarding, and finally, here's a message from one of my developer friends. Quite some time since I heard from him. Perhaps one of the most insightful programmers I know of. Lets see what he has to say. Maybe he's got some new job. A more high paying than his last one. Let's pick up his message bottle.

WeChat's Drift Bottle message throw.

WeChat's Drift Bottle message reception.

"Hi friends. As you know I've gone freelance after quitting my last IT job. Needed some partners to startup a venture. We won't be going towards conventional computing and simple app building, we'll instead concentrate on new subjects. Machine Learning, Knowledge Bases, Expert Systems. In short, we'll work on AI."

This contest was written towards Indiblogger's WeChat #WeChatNow blogging drive. 

                      To know more about this enthralling blogging drive, visit this link :

                                           Indiblogger's WeChat blogging drive

               To know more about WeChat and its engrossing capabilities, visit this link :

                                                   WeChat's YouTube Channel

And in case you want to download WeChat and know more about its scintillating features, here's a link to their website :

                                                          WeChat's Website

Monday, 13 May 2013

Making the deaf hear : Cochlear Implants

We always believe that technology and science always go together. Whereas science keeps coming with new ways and burgeoning theories on how to tackle existing problems, technology goes side by side to work its magic and manifest the new principles laid down by science. When it comes to medicine, the sync between these two has been all the more prevalent. Be it the concept of the pacemaker, the artificial kidney and the artificial heart, be it the simpler concept of using Lasik technology to correct eye defects, or be it the introduction of MRI and CT Scan which have helped medical science in gargantuan ways. Technology has always quickly followed up with the findings of science and has presented astonishing ways of treating or diagnosing ailments whose treatment was once not even anticipated. While all these processes have now very well established themselves as the niche means in their respective arenas, there is one technology that is relatively new and which has already brought wonders to the lives of a multitude of people. We're talking about Cochlear Implants.

There are a lot of reasons why people lose their hearing ability. Although it's mainly because of age, in a lot of cases it can also happen because of accidents or appear as a congenital defect. The reasons may vary but hearing defects can pose a lot of problems because hearing is one activity that substantially affects the way we live. Although several external techniques exist for correcting them, they are not deemed very effective because most of them eventually work just by increasing the sounds in magnitude. That does not help that much. A much more sophisticated and logical way of allowing such people to savor the sounds of this world, is the revolutionary technique called Cochlear Implants.

There is a set of sensory receptors inside our ear. These receptors comprise of an extremely sophisticated type of hair. Then there is a set of parts associated with these receptors, and finally there is a set of tangled nerves that connects the ear to the auditory section of the brain. The receptors pick up sounds from the environment,the system of parts connected to these receptors processes these sounds and converts them into electrical signals. Further, these electrical signals are transferred to the brain via the set of nerves connecting the ear to the brain. The brain uses these signals to interpret the sound and make us hear it. People who experience a loss of hearing mostly have complications in either the sensory receptors, or the processing parts connected to it, or the system of nerves that connects the ear to the brain. For those cases when the auditory section of the brain is not functional, different and much more advanced procedures may be needed. However for persons with the aforementioned kind of deficiencies, Cochlear Implants may be the ideal solution.

The overall system of an Cochlear Implant is divided into two parts - One portion is external and lies outside the ear,attached to it, and the other component is planted beneath the skin and bone under the ear. The external portion consists of a microphone, a speech processor and a system of transmission. The internal portion consists of a Receiver & Stimulator and a system of small electrodes. The microphone serves the purpose of picking up the sounds that come to the ear. The speech processor processes the sounds that come to the microphone and filters and/or magnifies those sounds according to the specific cases in which it may be used. Then, the speech processor passes these filtered sound signals to the transmitter. The transmitter takes it from there and transmits these sound signals to the internally planted Receiver & Stimulator. The internal Receiver & Stimulator serves to convert these sound signals into a set of electrical impulses. These electrical impulses are then relayed from the Receiver & Stimulator to the system of electrodes which connect to different places of the system of nerves that connects the ear to the auditory section of the brain.

The overall system works to mimic the functionality of the ear in all aspects. Even in our ears, sound signals are picked up, converted to electrical impulses, and then transmitted to the system of nerves and then towards the brain. Generally, complications arise in the sensory receptors and the system of processing parts which is associated with them. The ear either fails to pick up sounds from the environment or it fails to properly process these sounds and relay them to the auditory section of the brain. The beauty of Cochlear Implant lies in its Receptor and Stimulator, which properly comprehends the external sound signals and then converts them into electrical impulses which are of the same type as those transmitted by a real ear to the brain. Hence all in all, the cochlear Implant serves to help the ear pick up what it earlier couldn't and then transmits those impulses to the brain.

Cochlear Implants have been very very successful in most of the cases. They provide much better quality of sound than what external sound magnifiers do, but it's a fact that they still fall short of the natural hearing quality and this is quite acceptable. After all, there is no replacement for the marvels of nature. But for people who were unfortunate enough to bear the blunt of deafness, this technique can virtually open new possibilities. The best thing about this technique is that it makes an attempt of simulating the whole functioning of ear and this is what results in its exorbitant efficacy. However, the same thing also means that this technique is irreversible. It, in one way, eliminates any remaining natural hearing, and replaces the same. This happens because natural and artificial hearing can not be synced with each other and can lead to complications. Having said that, this technique is a real boon for those who lost most or all of their hearing ability. Its use can bestow tremendous gleam to their lives.

Quite a lot of Cochlear Implants have been successfully deployed all over the world. While most of these were the ones in which they were deployed in one ear, a lot of implants have been performed on both the ears as well. Even in India, the top notch players in health care have transformed the lives of a plethora of people by using this ecstatic technique. This technique, though quite well established, has still not attained the prowess and efficacy it is likely to acquire someday. Most of the research is being done on producing variants with minimal parts and on improving the proximity between the electrical impulses produced by this device and those produced by a natural ear. Some day, the quality of sound may nearly become an exact emulation of that produced by a natural ear. In a nutshell, the process is improving and has already transformed the lives of quite a lot of people and with time, things will only improve. Once again, technology and science have come together to mankind's rescue. With such feats, our future can only be better, our future can only be perfect.

This post was written as a part of Apollo Hospitals' #ApolloTouchingLives campaign. It is an initiative to engage bloggers in blogging about how modern health care is touching lives. To know more about the campaign, visit ApolloTouchingLives.

To know more about Apollo  Hospitals and their cutting edge health care, visit
Apollo Hospitals.