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On February 8, the winners of the UMNIK competition were announced. The programme, run by the Small S&T Enterprises Assistance Fund, promotes young researchers’ innovation projects. Two HSE students and one HSE alumna will receive grants of 500,000 rubles to carry out research and further develop their S&T projects.
‘Generally, the participants enter the competition with an innovative idea. The grant then lasts for two years, during which they develop the technology and prepare a prototype. This can be presented to the investors and production can be launched. The recipients of the grant can publicize their progress in papers in leading academic journals and presented at conferences’, explains Alexey Rolich, Assistant at the MIEM HSE School of Computer Engineering and academic supervisor of the two HSE students who have been awarded the prize.
One of the winners is Gleb Ints, a third-year undergraduate student in Informatics and Computer Hardware and Software at MIEM HSE. His project is entitled ‘Underwater lighting system for a module hardware and software complex for seafloor objects’ mapping’ (commissioned by the MSU Centre of Sea Research). Gleb’s device is highly innovative in that it produces underwater shots of better quality, and, unlike other similar devices, it won’t be affected by the weather, waves, water transparency, and other external conditions. This will decrease the vessel hire time, and the cost of seafloor research.
Photo: an older device (left) provides a light which is too bright (right), thereby impacting the quality of underwater photos
‘The lighting device is fixed on the underwater camera and sends signals to the surface. This means that the researchers won’t have to dive, and my device will be controlled remotely’, says Gleb Ints. ‘I’m planning to apply for the MIEM master’s programme, ‘Internet of Things and Cyber-physical Systems’, so I’ll develop my project in this direction, too’.
Another winner is Gleb’s classmate, Nikolay Romanenkov, who was awarded the grant for his project, ‘Software and hardware complex for a servo-based leg and knee prosthesis’. He has developed an electromechanical prosthesis, equipped with special sensors, including a sensor measuring degree of wear-and-tear, SOS button, and positioning tracker. This will allow carers to connect the prosthesis to a computer or a smartphone and track their elderly charges. One of the main sensors controlling the system is the joint angle sensor, which ‘instructs’ the prosthesis how to bend, so that the person makes the right movement, for example, when they go up the stairs.
‘Thanks to this sensor, the system will be much cheaper than its competitors’, says Nikolay. ‘Modern bionic prostheses are very expensive, because they are based on tracking neural signals. My technology is much more economical, since the electromechanical sensor, which calculates the bend angle and helps the leg to move using mathematical parameters, is much cheaper to produce’.
Photo: ‘Software and hardware complex for a servo-based leg and knee prosthesis’ project
The third winning project is entitled, ‘Flexible information system for solving managerial tasks with the use of case block-building method’. According to the author, alumna Pion Gaibaryan, who graduated in Philosophical Anthropology from HSE’s Faculty of Humanities, the system will be vital in working with large data bases as it will enable non-formalized, unclear data of any type to be integrated into a structure.
‘The aim of the program is to enhance our ability to model, and the human intellect in general. Imagine that you want to upload everything you have in your head, in order to organize and visualize it’, Pion says. ‘This program can put together an interactive model of any complex system. Visually, it looks like a lot of small squares, with an endless number of other squares inside them. These are the elements of the system. For example, if you want to study a certain topic, you can create a folder on your computer and put all the books, papers and documents on this topic inside it, together with your thoughts on it and quotations from other sources. You can even create chats to discuss your work with your peers. With my innovation, all these tasks can be carried out as part of one system, which enables you to work simultaneously with various types of information, to change and supplement them, to establish links between them, and to communicate with peers’.
The system, which is already in use, will be useful for analysts and researchers who work with large volumes of varied data, as well as for executives who want to be able to manage all their departments online, project managers who have to implement various tasks simultaneously, as well as anyone who simply wants to be more organized with a user-friendly online planner.
Innovativeness is an important criterion of the UMNIK competition: the project must either be competitive, or there shouldn’t be any competitors on the market at all. Furthermore, participants need to reflect on how they would market their innovation. Over the two-year period, the researcher needs to register the copyright and obtain a patent. The next stage is known as the ‘START’ competition, which pitches researchers against each other who have already launched their start-ups.