I believe in the motto: ‘Great Solutions come from Small Problems’ – Interview with the Teen App developer S Arjun
“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” says S Arjun, an 8th standard student of Velammal Vidhyashram, Surapet in Chennai and the founder of an Android app Ez School Bus Locator. This amazing Teen felt in love with the magical world of computer and internet in the age of two. And in the age of 12 he won the first prize in Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s App Inventor App Contest in 7th January 2014. Now he started his own company called LateraLogics – a technology solutions company. He’s currently working on an app for women safety called ‘i-Safe’. Our Correspondent Aishwarya V R got an opportunity to talk with this amazingly talented boy, and was surprised to know his dreams and projects. Read on:
Tell us about your application “EZ School Bus Locator”
‘Ez School Bus Locator’ is an innovative Android phone app that helps parents (both with smart phones 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 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). 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.
How did you come up with idea and how did you get interested in App Inventor?
Once, due to heavy rain, I was very late to reach home from school and found my parents worried. That is when I thought of developing a solution for this problem, that is how Ez School Bus Locator was born, and later dedicated to all parents in this world. I am an internet savvy and always keen about the latest trends and news related to technology. I got interested in MIT App Inventor since it is one of the very few powerful programs for developing mobile apps. It is an open source platform and it allows anyone familiar with computer programming to create powerful software applications for the Android operating system.
Tell us your experience after you received the MIT Award.
I was 12 when I created Ez School Bus Locator. The judges praised this app as ‘one of the most creative and well thought out apps of any age group in the contest’! It was a great experience and exposure in my life. This award and support drives me to build up new ideas. I get excited when Computer Science graduate students and companies from India and in other parts of the world invite me 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 whole lot of joy. Again in January this year, I won the first prize in the MIT’s App Inventor Bug Finding Contest. The objective of the contest was to help find major bugs in the new version of MIT’s App Inventor system. I received a Nexus 5 Android smart phone along with a certificate from MIT as the first prize!
In this age how did you learn the programming language?
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 smart phone, 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 presently training myself on some of the advanced programming languages including Python, Java and Android SDK.
Who is your inspiration?
I draw inspiration from many great people around us who’ve shown examples of innovation and creativity including Steve Jobs and Pranav Mistry. My parents, and teachers are gave 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
Describe your hobbies other than programming
My hobbies include playing shuttle badminton for which I’m undergoing professional coaching. I’m undergoing training in keyboard, Western. My interests include Graphic Designing, Web Designing, and Artificial Intelligence. I have a passion for research, and hence spend considerable of time to learn about the emerging trends and technologies happening around in this fast changing world.
You are currently implementing an app for women safety, tell us about that app
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 teen in distress (both with smart phones 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 are near the vicinity of the incident who have this app installed in their mobile devices) nearby the spot to reach out to the person in danger, without having to wait for the police.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family. Do they have any IT or Programming background?
I am the only son of my parents. Neither of them is directly involved in programming. My mom likes designing, and she helped me with ideas on the user interface. My dad is in the e-learning field, and he supported me when I needed some technical help
What are your future plans? And do you have any advice to the youngsters?
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 that will help make our world a better place to live.
Though presently, I’m in the process of building a small team of designers and coders (for remotely collaborating) who carry great passion for building solutions that solve a purpose, my dream is to bring up LateraLogics to one of the most innovative and successful companies in the world. My company’s motto is ‘Great Solutions come from Small Problems’.
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!”
: Aishwarya V R