Dr. Larry Brilliant, INK Fellow journeys, augmented reality demos and more at the Bay Area INK Salon

One of our INK staff members, Vaibhav Mathur, had a chance to visit the Bay Area and conduct an INK Salon there, along with Founder and CEO of INK Lakshmi Pratury. He shares his experience below, with the diverse people who attended, the unique talks that were given and the electric atmosphere of the event!

It was a rare opportunity to hear from Dr. Larry Brilliant, the visionary physician who helped eradicate smallpox, a mind-blowing demo of immersive augmented reality experience by John Werner of Meta Vision, and a bunch of INK Fellows sharing their most exciting ventures — a truly stimulating evening in the San Francisco Bay Area!

Anu Sethuram, co-chair of the INK Fellows Program (and the face and bridge for INK in the US) kicked off the evening at the Cupertino Community Hall by sharing how INK had its birth way back in 2007, right there in the Bay Area. The INK Fellows took the stage in turns next to woo us all with their ambitious projects. Pavan Kumar, co founder of Cocoon Cam, talked about the cutting-edge technology they are introducing to baby monitors. Their product, currently retailed across hundreds of Target stores in the US, comes as a great tool for parents who can now track the breathing rate and body temperature of their infants in real-time, right from their smartphones.

Up next was Angad Singh, co-founder Cassette.design, who spoke to us about their ingenious app that allows you to record, transcribe and search important conversations like user interviews, meetings, lectures and video calls.. All conversations are beautifully documented and all in one place — modernising the note taking method.

INK Fellow Rohan Dixit (listen to his INK2013 talk here) of Lief therapeutics went on stage next and exuded calm and peace, the same thing his startup aims to bring to people with wearables. The smart Lief patch, available now on pre-order, trains your body to fight stress and become more mindful. The discreet patch measures your heart and breath, and teaches you to control your body’s natural stress response through gentle, safe biofeedback exercises.

This mindfulness that Dixit seeks for people to experience is a quality that the next speaker, Dr. Larry Brilliant, truly embodied and used us a foundation for a life-time of pioneering and visionary work in public health and philanthropy.

In a conversation with Lakshmi Pratury, Dr. Brilliant, for the next 30 minutes kept us captivated with his surreal anecdotes from his life in India. Characters like Steve Jobs, the mystic Neem Karoli BabaJRD Tata, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama made appearances in his stories. There was so much to learn from his experience as a WHO doctor, who along with thousands of dedicated health workers, conquered the deadly smallpox virus. Now at the helm of the Skoll Global Threats Fund and with his previous role of leading Google’s Philanthropic arm, Dr. Brilliant continues to tackle and contain humanity’s suffering. The conversation concluded with him sharing the moving experience of examining Rahima Banu, the world’s last official case of killer smallpox in a remote corner of Bangladesh in 1975. Dr. Brilliant stayed on after his talk to autograph his recently published autobiography, Sometimes Brilliant, for the eager INK Salon crowd.

Keeping the audience in awe, INK Fellow Manvendra Singh transported us next to the exotic landscapes of Rajasthan. Creator of leading boutique hotels in India – Suryagarh in Jaisalmer and Narendra Bhavan in Bikaner, Singh is on a mission to revive, restore and then preserve our lost heritage. His vision to ensure that the “future of our past” guides his projects which employ vernacular construction techniques and sustainable practices that draw from the wisdom of our ancestors. Expanding his focus, Singh’s next project is redefining community living, where the local environment is central in a grand vision for a sustainable township.

Up next was Silicon Valley veteran entrepreneur and VC Raju Reddy to share with us how the Sandbox Model of rural development is so successfully creating entrepreneurs and new innovations, across towns like Hubli in India. Giving specific examples, Reddy showed us how encouraging local populations at the bottom of the pyramid to be problem solvers is an important step before we bring in the big ideas and technology for development.

We were in for a treat as technologist John Werner put on the Meta headset to give us an exclusive demo of their immersive augmented reality experience. The Meta headset allows you to touch, grab, and pull photorealistic content which appears as 3D holograms in your field of view. This glimpse of a very sci-fi future, not so far away, left everyone quite speechless. Lakshmi was back to conclude the evening and give a shout-out to the filmmaker Rishi Bhilawadikar whose film, set in Silicon Valley, highlights the life-experiences of the immigrant South-Asian community in the US.

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Clockwise L to R – The audience, Lakshmi in conversation with Larry, Manvendra talking about his work on national heritage, John Werner demoing his Meta headset

This INK Salon was made possible by the community effort of INK supporters and champions in the Bay Area, who took responsibility of each and every detail – Tina Sharma , Archana Vahalia, Deepti Mulakaluri to name a few. The positive response for the Salon has made the INK team excited to host many more such events in the near future, in the US!

Written by Vaibhav Mathur, INK.

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