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Start-up pioneers image processing tech

Posted: 15 Oct 2007     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:embedded technology  GSM technology  prototyping 

Their amble in the cocooned corridors of the incubation centre of IIT Delhi has been replaced by a march down the path of making their own company find more than just a foothold. Jatin Sharma, CEO of the start-up, KritiKal Solutions explained,"When we started, we had some idea but when we moved to the market, the realisation was different. So we tried to maneuver, we tried to change our ideas. But as said, things learned through experience are better learned, worked for us."

The founding members (L to R): Nishant Sharma, Anoop G. Prabhu, Jatin Sharma, Ashwani Gautam, Nishant Sharma, Soumyadeb Mitra, Dipinder Sekhon

KritiKal Solutions, a start-up that focuses on embedded technology is the brainchild of seven students and five professors from computer science department of IIT, Delhi. Founded in 2002, currently the company has a headcount of 55 people and provides embedded systems solution for security and services, traffic and transportation and telecom.

Identifying the market
A company, driven by market requirements, moved into automotive security products after the Parliament attack incident. Based on image processing technology, KritiKal's vehicle under check scanner is an electro mechanical assembly with cameras mounted on top of it that is fitted on the road. When the vehicle passes over it, the scanner captures the underside of the vehicle as a complete video, which is sent to a PC for surveillance.

Another product developed by KritiKal is a vehicle anti theft alarm system, dubbed Amsaki 9110, that uses the GSM technology to alert a user in real time in case of any intrusion or tamper attempt with his/her vehicle.

Amsaki 9110

"This indigenously developed product is compatible with most of the existing alarm systems in the market today and enhances their applicability multi-fold at a reasonable price," said Jatin. "However, some of the key design challenges while designing the product were to handle the different network scenarios the vehicle encounters while on the move and ensuring cost effectiveness and reliability while providing a host of features for the user."

Currently, KritiKal team is working on another version of the product that will enable the authorised user to lock and unlock the vehicle using the cell phone. The company is also planning to use this technology for a number of other applications, such as monitoring critical parameters in the industrial environments.

The most challenging project for KritiKal team was to design and develop a low cost affordable talking assistant, dubbed Daisy book reader, specifically designed to help the blind people explore the world of e-books in a convenient fashion. "Designing and developing such player was challenging task, given the tight design and cost constraints initially set in," stated Jatin. "Not only the player needed to be inexpensive, it needed to be rugged, consume low power and support all functions which any other advanced player provides."

The team at KritiKal took up the complete task of developing the device from concept phase to final prototype stage. KritiKal used μClinux OS on the low power ColdFire SoC from Freescale. Other firmware and software features built into the product include:

—Small memory footprint;

—μClinux kernel on custom hardware;

—IntegratedJFFS2 file system for data integrity across power outages;

—Power control and battery management for longer battery operation;

—Thread support to enhance the user experience by making it more efficient;

—Complete audio book reader application with user interface for the visually impaired.

"One of the constraints we faced during prototyping is the lack of availability of resources—the low profile components, which we have to source from outside the country, often consumes lot of time, delaying the entire product cycle," said Jatin.

Opportunities and issues
In last five years, KritiKal Solutions have developed a significant customer base, which comprises of 70 per cent indian customers. "The Indian market has lot of potential as well as requirement. Young people are ready to take the risk of developing their own ideas with a positive outlook," echoed Jatin. "When you come from a technical background, and start looking at various aspects of organisation, your maturity level goes up almost immediately." Crossing the first few hurdles while rafting through the competitive embedded systems industry, KritiKal Solutions is preparing to seize the day.

Dipti Agarwal
EE Times India

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