Hack happy

At Bangalore’s HackLab, hardware enthusiasts build telepresence robots for video conferencing and smart wheelchairs for differently abled

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Founder Vikram Rastogi, tells us more about coding dreams and breaking things. Excerpts from an interview;
vikramHow did you start? Tell us the story.
In my college, I used to take part in lot of competitions (mostly related to robotics and coding), hackathons, etc. After getting a job in Juniper Networks, I wanted to pursue these hobbies further. But after moving to Bengaluru, I found it very hard to either work on a project (due to lack of resources) or find a team. I searched for places and attended a few meet-ups but none were good enough. In 2014, I got a chance to visit US and spend some time at MIT. It was a great learning experience. I made a point to visit a lot of hackerspaces in Boston, NYC and San Fransisco to understand their culture and how they function. I especially loved visiting NYC Resistor and 33 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn in NY. There, I got some great insights as to how a community lab (hackerspace) functions. After coming back, I quit my job in Jan ’15 and bootstrapped Hacklab (Mar ’15).

Tell us about your team?
Contrary to popular belief, it is not hard to find good people, passionate and eager to work on hardware products. We currently have around 150 members which includes entrepreneurs, embedded developers, researchers and product designers. Though we are majorly a technical team, we have a great bunch of people who help us out with the aesthetics and design. We all are focused on developing products and have developed more than 25 prototypes till now. We are planning to launch a couple of them as products before the end of this year. So stay tuned :)

IMG_20150612_130625Tell us about one interesting thing that was made at the space.
Well, it is very hard to pinpoint one project. We have developed CRUIZE-a smarter wheel chair for a paralyzed person, which can be controlled without hands.

Then there is the I2U2-a telepresence robot, which one can control and do video conferencing from any part of the world. We have also worked on an assistive device for a blind person to help him/her experience a normal textbook in an intuitive manner. Apart from these, we are working on launching a couple of products in the market by the end of this year, which are still under wraps for now.

What’s the most popular machine/tool?
We don’t have many machines @Hacklab apart from a couple of saws and drills.  

What do you guys do for fun?
We do some crazy experiments. We recently made a mistifier and are trying to do 3d holographic projections using it. We break stuff and hack things together. So basically we do the same things we normally do while “working”. :)

Future plans.  
To make more products and launch them into the market, while making sure that we are not the only ones using them.

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