Five Indians have made it to the latest annual list of 35 innovators under the age of 35 from around the world published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s magazine. As always, the Technology Review magazine’s annual list TR35, has an eclectic selection of innovators from different fields ranging from biomedicine to energy to material sciences.
TR35 honours the best in the world, and the list duly reflects that. Names such Daniel Ek, Drew Houstan and Ben Silbermann may not ring a bell, but their web innovations in the form of Spotify, Dropbox and Pinterest individually have millions of users per month. Eben Upton, the brain behind the wildly popular RasberryPi computer also finds his name in the roll call.
Moving away from web, innovations in the field of biomedicine where Abraham Flaxman is combining data sets to track the spread of disease in developing nations or William Chueh ’s effort to pull hydrogen from water using sunlight and inexpensive material are glimpse of the work being done by these innovators.
As always, the Indian diaspora finds its worthy representation in the list. With their ever increasing presence, their work now has a far greater significance than ever before. On one hand we have people like Sarbajit Banerjee creating a window that selectively allows or blocks heat as per the user to Pratheev Sreetharan who is mass producing tiny-machines that can snap into place like a pop-up book. On the other hand we have Prashant Jain whose research may lead to tuning the nanocrystals so that we have tinier and more efficient switches for solar panels.
But the list doesn’t end here. We have two rock star innovators from Microsoft and Google. Saikat Guha, the computer scientist at Microsoft Research India has found a perfect compromise between privacy and profit. By developing a software platform which allows advertisers to target potential customer without exposing the customers’ personal information.
Google’s Shishir Mehrotra who is now the Vice-President of product at Youtube, has made web videos profitable by making advertising optional. By making ads optional and asking advertisers to pay only if their videos were watched entirely or for 30 seconds if they were longer. Shishir has made Youtube more profitable in ad revenue per hour than regular cable TV.
All of these innovations may not be something that would gather mainstream attention or even exist in its original form 5 years later but these could have far reaching effects on the future of technology.
* Images from smugmug.com, Technologyreview.com