IIT represented Sri Lanka at HCI Research Conference in the Netherlands

Be it creation or evolution, the gift of innovation is dispensed in limited quantities and those who harness it are very often the ones that redefine the system, pulling what are considered things restricted to the realms of fiction to reality.

One such individual is Sheran Corera; a student of the Informatics Institute of Technology who represented Sri Lanka at the 'Chi Sparks 2011' conference held in Arnhem, Netherlands to present his research paper titled Capturing Hand Gesture Movement: A Survey on Tools, Techniques and Logical Considerations. The topic of the conference was 'HCI research, innovation and implementation' and was organized by Chi Nederland, the Dutch local chapter of the ACM Special Interest Group on Human-Computer Interaction.

Sheran was selected from among a significant number of submissions from across the world and was the youngest speaker at the conference as well as the only individual to represent Asia. He was also the only undergraduate speaker, as the rest were graduates or PhD holders.

The aforementioned paper which he presented at the conference was in relation to research conducted on gesture based interaction with computers for educational and recreational purposes.
Q. How did this research paper come about and what would you identify as being the main reason behind its inception?

Sheran: The paper presented was part of my work carried out for my final year project which aimed at building a decentralized approach to hand gesture recognition using accelerometers. One thing I realized when deciding on my project was that gestures play an immense role in human interaction in avenues ranging from education to a performance for instance by an artist. Therefore, I thought the potential gesture based systems should improve Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and evaluated various sensors, approaches, logical considerations and issues predominant throughout the target domain and how they can be improved.

Q. What is the Chi sparks conference and what was the experience like to you personally?
Sheran: Chi Sparks is a conference that aims to be a platform for students, researchers and professionals to showcase HCI research into successful, innovative, new products or services that have a genuine impact on people's lives. The theme of this year's conference was 'HCI research, innovation and implementation'. The experience was an enjoyable one, particularly when the audience burst into applause when I mentioned I had travelled thousands of miles to visit Netherlands from the sunny shores of Sri Lanka! The entire event had been organized extremely well and it was also a learning experience as I got the opportunity to listen to other esteemed speakers involved in HCI research and development.

Q. What was the feedback like? Has there been interest in the project at home and/or internationally after your visit?
Sheran: After my presentation much was discussed and the feedback I received was incredible. I got the opportunity to meet with many who shared common interests and wanted to know more about the project, so I was given quite a few business cards and email addresses. I was also requested to keep in touch via the Linked-In conference link, and in general, everybody really appreciated the presentation.

Q. What does the future hold?
Sheran: On returning to Sri Lanka, the project I built (of which this paper was a part) won first an annual software and business competition organized by IIT and I was also able to grab the Virtusa award for academic excellence. In terms of the future, I'm trying to concentrate on how the project can be packaged and licensed as a commercial product and how this can be taken forward. I am in the process of starting a company of my own and putting together a team to take this project forward as I believe it has immense potential. I am cautiously optimistic but realistic as I believe you need to be rational in anything.

Q. Anyone you would like to thank for helping make all this possible?
Sheran: Most definitely. I couldn't have done this without the support of my family and friends who have stood by me and supported me despite missing certain social gatherings and all the long nights of research and documentation. I would also like to very specially thank my lecturers at IIT for guiding me throughout the project.

Upon reflection, at the conclusion of the discussion, what could be said about this talented youngster is that he is as ambitious as he is innovative. Discussing his interests sparked a more forward, opinionated demeanour clearly exhibiting his passion for what he believes in. Sheran Corera definitely has a lot in store and if utilized correctly, he possesses the potential to redefine the industry landscape here in Sri Lanka. Although significant credit is due and should be given to this personality, equal credit should be given to the Informatics Institute of Technology for stimulating young minds to be bold enough to 'push the envelope' when achieving the goals of higher education.

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