>>Eric Berdinis: I am 20 years old, and I
am a student at University of Pennsylvania. And before I talk about what I do, I guess
I will show you my video first just to give you an overview and then I will explain more
about it. (Video.)
>>Video: Hi, my name is Eric Berdinis. Around the world there are 35 million people who
are blind and 245 million people who are visually impaired. Life can be tough, sometimes impossible,
for these individuals. Seeing eye dogs and walking canes can be an
enormous improvement for being without any aid, but I believe there is more that can
be done. That’s why my friend and I set out to create a portable, wearable aid for the
visually impaired to help make their lives easier.
We created a waistband equipped with an infrared camera and six vibration motors. It works
just like you’d expect. If there is an obstacle to the user’s left, the left side of the waistband
will vibrate. As the obstacle gets closer, the vibrations get stronger.
We have built a working prototype. And as you can see in the video, as I move from side
to side, the buzzers respond accordingly and the user reacts as if he can see where he
is going. Our long-term goal is to make this device more powerful by adding object recognition
and audio feedback. However, our primary focus is to make it more portable and affordable
so we can spread this technology around the world. Thank you for your consideration.
[ Applause ]>>Eric Berdinis: So I entered this video,
part of the Google Zeitgeist Young Minds program, which finds ten people from the age 18 to
24 to come to Google Zeitgeist and talk about how they are trying to change the world.
So, as you can see, the project I built was a belt that works kind of like your backup
beeping system in a car works. As you back up, the car beeps. And you know when you are
about to hit something. But my friend, Jeff Kiskey and I — He built this with me.
>>Chelsea Clinton: Is he the other person in the video?
>>Eric Berdinis: Yes, he was wearing the sweatshirt. He and I decided, well, how can we take this
simple technology and use it in a way that hasn’t been done before?
It is part of a class we were at in UPenn. We decided let’s build this system that takes
a Microsoft Kinect, which is how we do the camera and the sensing, find obstacles in
someone’s path and vibrate on the belt to let the person know when they are about to
hit something. So we have gotten really far with this. We
look forward to seeing where this can go in the future.
>>Chelsea Clinton: Terrific. Shree, do you want to tell us a little bit
about your work?>>Shree Bose: Sure. I’m Shree Bose. I’m 17
years old, and I do cancer research. I was recently honored this summer as the grand
prize winner of the first-ever Google Global Science Fair. And so that is why I am here.
[ Applause ]>>Shree Bose: So, just to tell you a little
bit about me. I mean, the Google Science Fair is where I am at right now. But that’s not
at all where I begin. My story begins with me as a second grader
trying to turn spinach blue because I didn’t like green vegetables.
[ Laughter ] So my parents, being the wonderfully supportive
people they are, bought me this spinach plant, bought me a syringe and some blue food coloring.
And I injected that plant with blue food coloring, and then I put it in a cabinet and forgot
about it. So the day of the fair, I pulled this plant
out of my cabinet and it’s completely dead because I haven’t watered in weeks. And I
take that to school and that’s my first-ever science project.
[ Laughter ]>>Shree Bose: So, granted, I have gotten a
bit more complicated from there, but when I was 15 I decided I wanted to do cancer research.
And so I started emailing all of these professors in my area and asking if I could work in their
labs. So this is me as a 15-year-old emailing professors at the highest graduate research
level and just asking to work in their labs. And I got this long string of, if you didn’t
expect this, I got “no’s” from all of them except for one with.
And she became my mentor. I started doing ovarian cancer research, and it has just been
uphill since then.>>Chelsea Clinton: That’s great.
Scot?>>Scot Frank: I’m feeling old and little bit
underaccomplished up here.>>Chelsea Clinton: Hardly.
>>Scot Frank: This past Sunday I just turned 26. I am the co-founder and CEO of One Earth
Designs, and we develop products that improve the lives of people in emerging markets. So
to give you an example of some of this work, the first issue I want to talk about is energy,
which, of course, is all over the news. But I think that there are a number of stories
that are still yet untold and those are stories that are shared by about 2.5 billion people
around the world to are living in very smoky, polluted environments like this that you see
here in the picture. Now, I lived in one of these tents for about
three months. But I think just at first glance, you can see is, or maybe as it is, you can’t
see, that there is a huge problem and that this is a huge issue affecting millions of
people. 2 million people die every single year because
of the smoke produced by the stove inside of their home, and it is also the biggest
killer of children around the world. And I first got involved in this issue about
five years ago when I was in western China. And we were working with a number of communities
at the time on environmental education. And they had a lot of interest in finding solutions
that would better meet their needs. So there were a number of problems in addition
to the smoke. Women would spend hours every day, young girls couldn’t go to school because
they had to spend the time collecting fuel. And it is inaccessible, it’s expensive and
it really causes a loss of opportunities. So there were a few different options available,
and the idea of using the sun was something that was particularly interesting to many
of the communities. There was a lot of sun available, as there is in many parts of the
world where there is a lot of energy poverty. But the devices available to them were these
big, huge, concrete solar cookers that weighed 95 kilograms. You couldn’t get them out to
the places where people really needed.>>Chelsea Clinton: And if they broke, you
couldn’t repair them.>>Scot Frank: Exactly. And they usually did
break in about three months, so after which people would repurpose them as a gate for
their yaks. [ Laughter ]
>>Chelsea Clinton: Enterprising but not the problem you were trying to solve.
>>Scot Frank: Indeed, indeed. So at least at one point, people were starting to feel
some ownership over the technology. But people really wanted something that was
lightweight and portable. So we looked around the world to find, well, are there ways of
using a sun that’s lightweight and portable? We tried one of those technologies. It is
made from cardboard, and it takes several hours to cook, if at all. And on the next
picture, you’ll see that one of the best pieces is the goat found it to be a pretty desirable
snack. [ Laughter ]
>>Scot Frank: So I think this is a problem that’s illustrating something seen around
the world where you have a lot of technologies in places where there is a lot of price sensitivity.
The people have usually very rigorous and extreme needs for the technologies that just
simply don’t meet their needs. But, yet, these are products that are targeted as something
to lift people out of poverty. People didn’t feel good about using them.
And so we started to work with the communities who had come to us in brainstorming different
ideas, and then we came up with a few different prototypes. We would test them, get feedback,
find it was too big, too heavy, too small. And what we ended up with now coming up to
this month is a product that is lightweight and portable. It is the first one that can
provide cooking but also heating as well as generating electricity from the waste heat.
And it is something that the users are really excited about and it is a case where it really
is all about the users. And it is a product they people are very excited to use, and it
makes them feel better about who they are. I think it satisfies the needs not only for
energy but also in providing them with something that fulfills their heart, their mind and
their soul.>>Chelsea Clinton: And gives them the dignity
of actually been able to be part of the design process —
>>Scot Frank: Exactly.>>Chelsea Clinton: — which is often not the
case.>>Scot Frank: Exactly. So in one case — Let’s
see. Some of our prototypes, one of the most complicated part was sewing. So we made these
prototypes in a workshop, brought them out to communities. And many of the women would
say, Oh, did you sew that? We would say, Yes. She said, I could do a much better job than
you.>>Chelsea Clinton: She probably could.
>>Scot Frank: That’s the kind of feedback you want. And, indeed, she could.
>>Chelsea Clinton: Eric, we’ve heard Scot and Shree talk about some of the challenges
that they have had to overcome, whether it was, I think, the six rejections until the
Talisman seventh yes or kind of being able to accept that sewing was probably not where
Scot added value. What were some of the obstacles that you confronted,
and how did you surmount them?>>Eric Berdinis: Well, I have always found
myself to be a tinkerer, someone who likes to build things. So in a high school, for
example, I built a catapult for a class project.>>Chelsea Clinton: Did you catapult yourself?
>>Eric Berdinis: No, we actually didn’t. So everyone came in. All the different teams
came in with these one-foot high, two-foot high catapults. But my partner and I, not
wanting to be outdone by anyone else, built a 8 1/2-foot catapult.
>>Chelsea Clinton: Overcompensated.>>Eric Berdinis: Overcompensated, right. We
actually couldn’t even transport it to school without, like, buying — or renting a delivery
truck and even then –>>Chelsea Clinton: Were you old enough to
drive?>>Eric Berdinis: No, my dad drive.
>>Chelsea Clinton: So life is a team sport.>>Eric Berdinis: Right. So it actually couldn’t
even fit inside the school building. We had to put it in its side. It wouldn’t work in
the classroom, so we had to do all the demonstrations outside. Anyway, everyone’s catapult threw
their rock or whatever a few feet. And ours didn’t throw it at all because it broke and
it didn’t work. Just going through this process and learning
that you can build something and have it fail has taught me a lot about the whole design
process and the whole trying and starting over.
So for my belt that helps blind people see, at least for that project, you know, every
time there was something that could go wrong, it would go wrong. I believe it is Murphy’s
Law that it will. And, of course, in the final hour when we
are about to present to our professor and to everyone else at the school, one hour before
our presentation, it stopped working. We had no idea why. So we decided last-minute effort,
let’s jump on the subway and go to GameStop and buy a wire that Kinect uses to connect
everything and hopefully this will make everything work.
So we got on the subway, paid 30 bucks, came back. And, luckily, a few minutes before the
presentation, we just plugged it in and it worked.
So from those two experiences, I realized that no matter how hard you try, there is
always going to be something that goes wrong. Whether in the end you fail or in the end
you succeed, the process of building it and going through everything teaches you what
it is like to build something on your own, what it is like to actually finally reach
that end point of succeeding in your mission.>>Chelsea Clinton: And it is an iterative
process. Scot was talking about the ways in which he has been able to enfranchise the
communities whom he is hoping to better empower over their own lives.
How have you thought about kind of that same paradigm in working with the visually impaired
as you further refine your prototype?>>Eric Berdinis: Well, so, in creating this
belt, we realized that people who are blind currently have no high-tech solution to navigating
the streets. And when you are walking around, if you see someone with a walking cane, you
know immediately that they have this disability, that they’re blind or that they are visually
impaired. So we aimed to create something that actually
filled this void of, first, having, you know, technology help people in need; and, second,
using it to create something that makes it more subtle.
Make it so someone who is walking that might be wearing a belt, you wouldn’t necessarily
know that they are blind. You wouldn’t know they are disadvantaged to anyone else. So
in that way, we are trying to bring people who are blind back to a level where they will
be seen as normal. But at the same time, we realize that this
type of application or this type of project could have many different uses. So, for example,
firefighters who are walking through buildings with smoke, if they have something like this,
they can see obstacles by feeling them.>>Chelsea Clinton: They can give them a 360
view?>>Eric Berdinis: Exactly. Or miners can know
when they are about to run into something if it is dark or if it is cloudy. This type
of seeing without really seeing could really go a long way.
>>Chelsea Clinton: It is a much broader application.>>Eric Berdinis: Right.
>>Chelsea Clinton: Shree, you talked about sort of how you found your mentor. Could you
talk a little bit about how you’ve worked with your mentor and kind of what you think
good mentorship is?>>Shree Bose: Yeah. So my professor was Dr.
Basu, who is a graduate-level scientist at the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth
where I live. And she was the first person who said yes.
So I went into her lab and she said, Talk to me a little bit. Tell me what you want
to do. And when I first went into talk to her, we just talked about where I wanted to
go with the research that I do. And so I said I wanted to do science fairs
–>>Chelsea Clinton: Did you know what research
you wanted to do already?>>Shree Bose: I had an idea. And then when
I went to her she said it made no sense. [ Laughter ]
>>Chelsea Clinton: You have to start with a hypothesis.
>>Shree Bose: Exactly. So when I first went in, she said, you’re going to have to do background
research. So the library became my third home. The lab became my second. And my home was
barely occupied. So when I started doing background research,
I was put with a graduate student who was supposed to guide me and make sure that I
didn’t injure anybody or damage the lab in any sort of permanent way.
And I just started working in the lab under my designated supervisor. And my mentor was
there to always look at my results, tell me whether my presentation was good, and I could
follow a coherent flow or whether it made no sense and I could re-do it.
So the research that I actually did that won me the science fair was about ovarian cancer.
I actually have a slides of some results that are pretty interesting.
I worked with drug resistance. Basically, we were looking at cells that were no longer
responding to a chemotherapy drug. And when patients become resistant to the drug, they
can get a recurrence of the tumor, which is the biggest problem with chemotherapy today.
And so we were looking at those resistant cells, and we thought that this one protein
in the cell called AMP kinase had something to do with those cancer skills becoming resistant
to the drug called cisplatin. So to test that we basically stopped the activity
of the protein and then treated with the drug and checked to see if there were any differences
in sensitive versus resistant. And if we see differences, then that means that this protein
is doing something pretty interesting in those cells. And if we don’t, well, that doesn’t
mean that much but then you call it science. So we were looking at sensitive cells, and
these are actually stained dying cells. So if we see those little dots, that’s each one
cell. And so in our sensitive, we can see that when we first treat with the drug, they’re
responding, they’re dying. Then we add in this protein inhibitor and they stop dying,
which is kind of weird. But then we went over to our resistant cells
and we were looking at the same treatment except we saw the exact opposite thing happening
where those cell death counts are actually going up when we inhibit that protein.
>>Chelsea Clinton: Which is what the greater concentration in the bottom —
>>Shree Bose: Which is what that increase means. So that actually shows this huge shift
in what stopping that protein does in these cells. So that means that this protein is
doing something in those cells to make them resistant. And if we actually inhibit the
protein when patients become resistant and then treat with the drug, we can actually
treat them again and improve chemotherapy. So that was my work. I was 16 when I was doing
it. And, honestly, I thought it was the coolest thing ever, still do. And now I get to go
around and present it to awesome audiences like you.
[ Laughter ]>>Chelsea Clinton: And we get to learn from
you. Are you still working in a lab?>>Shree Bose: This summer I was actually all
over the place, so I didn’t get to work in the same lab. But I’m hoping to do some more
work in the future with cellular biology. And we’ll see where that goes.
>>Shree Bose: Yes. I mean, cisplatin is a drug, which is used to treat all kinds of
cancer. So we used it in ovarian cancer, but that doesn’t mean this is the only cancer
that this happens in. I mean, resistance is the biggest problem with chemotherapy. And,
if we can translate it over to other cancer treatments, then we can put what work that
we’ve done into clinical trials and treat patients with what this research shows, which
is pretty very exciting.>>Chelsea Clinton: Which is very exciting.
Scot, since you are a little older — though not as old as I am — [ Laughter ]
>>Chelsea Clinton: — have you already begun to mentor people either at your organization
or through other organizations you’re working with in the field? And how do you think about
mentorship from a slightly different vantage point?
>>Scot Frank: Yes. I have started to mentor some, actually through the Clinton Global
Initiative University. So for the past two years, I have been a mentor to other university
students who have applied with their ideas mostly in social entrepreneurship or energy.
And then it’s been a real great learning experience for me to hear what’s going on in energy issues
at campuses. And then I think it’s interesting to see where there can be exchanges between
work I’m doing or, you know, of people that I happen to meet at conferences like this.
And I find it a really great opportunity to give back. And I think it’s something that
I’ve been very fortunate to have found in my own experience getting to this point.
>>Chelsea Clinton: That’s great. In our last few minutes, I think, I, at least, would like
to hear — and I imagine the audience would like to hear — sort of what’s next for each
of you in the lab or in the field and how we can best help you do that, whether that’s
write a letter of recommendation for college or connect you to other mentors or mentees.
>>Eric Berdinis: Well, I guess I’m going to be continuing to work on my project. And,
like I said, the idea is to make it something that’s subtle, something that, when you wear
it, you don’t necessarily know someone is blind. As you can see in the video, it’s kind
of this clunky looking device. Next semester —
>>Chelsea Clinton: Maybe there’s people in this room who can help with the aesthetics
of it.>>Eric Berdinis: Right. So I’m, actually,
you know, looking for an organization to help mentor my partner and me, someone who can
really invest in our creativity and help us grow this product, someone who is willing
to take on young workers and maybe help us help them with their stuff as well.
But I guess the biggest thing is, you know, having these opportunities to create projects
seems to be the biggest thing that’s motivated me, you know, going on in computer engineering
at Penn. So any type of school project or, you know, school class that has — it’s project-based
learning where at the end you’re actually creating something, that’s where I see my
future is, you know, just building something or finding a problem that technology has yet
to solve and solving it with technology. So, for example, you know, Penn has a bunch
of hack-a-thons where — it’s a 48-hour event where they have students just come together
and build something. Doesn’t really matter, a Web site, a mobile app, whatever it is.
So what these projects do is it inspires a lot of people to be creative and to actually
build something on their own. So, no matter whether they fail or if they succeed, they’ll
have done something. For example, there was one a few weeks ago
my friends and I thought, okay, what can we do? What’s some sort of funny idea?
We thought, you know, let’s say you’re watching a YouTube video — I know this is kind of
random — let’s say you’re watching a YouTube video and you want to find out what parts
are the funniest. So, for this hack-a-thon, we built a Web site that analyzes your facial
expressions and tracks over time which parts you’re smiling at the most or which parts
you’re laughing at. So that, by the end of the video, you can actually see this is the
funniest part of the video. Or over time, everyone who’s watched this video agrees,
based on their laughing or their smiles, this is the funniest part.
>>Chelsea Clinton: Maybe you should talk to Arianna about how to help her with her culture
work. Shree, what’s next for you?
>>Shree Bose: I’m going to make a tangential point, but I feel like I can’t talk about
my future without acknowledging a few of the amazing people in my past. So, of course,
I have, my parents and my teachers and –>>Chelsea Clinton: And your mom is here.
>>Shree Bose: My mom is here. Hi, Mom. And my mentor. But somebody who I probably don’t
mention often is my brother, Pinaki, who is two years older than me, but he has the wisdom
of 20 years old. And he was, actually, the first person who got me interested in science.
I have a quick little story. We were looking through home videos the other day. And we
saw this video where we were both toddlers. And I’m running around in the sprinklers.
And all of a sudden I decided to crash land on my wobbly legs. And I just fall down and
start crying. And he runs up behind me and picks me up and makes me stop crying. And,
granted, I’m not a wobbly little toddler any more; but he’s always there throughout my
entire life to pick me up when I’ve fallen down.
So for the future I would have to say more tools. Because my story starts with just clicking
“send” on GMail. So who knows where somebody else’s story will begin. So I have a lot of
great people. And, hopefully, I can continue to have those people in my life. And I’m looking
forward where we end up.>>Chelsea Clinton: A very good place, I have
no doubt. Scot?>>Scot Frank: I started doing this work really
as a matter of chance. I was studying electrical engineering and computer science at MIT. So
I think a lot of my classmates are probably working for everyone’s company here.
And the professors I had and the advisors I had at the time told me I shouldn’t do the
type of work that I’m doing now, that there wasn’t a career in it, you couldn’t make money.
Then, when I said, well, I’m skipping out on this semester and I’m going to go to China,
they said that I couldn’t. I still went anyway. So I think that for people to be supportive
of this type of work in people’s ideas and their dreams is really important. And for
people to, you know, maybe if they have 20% time that they can lend to helping mentor,
providing service and skills, because I find it’s still — we have a team of 12 right now.
Even though we’re growing and we have a lot of experience just from some of the hires
that we’ve made, there’s still areas in which we lack of expertise or the connections. And
so I think that’s something that people like us can always benefit from.
>>Chelsea Clinton: Well, thank you. I hope you’ll let me know how I can help each of
you. And I hope that all of you in the audience will talk to them, if they come up to you
during lunch. And I hope that all of you will take the chance to wander around Google Young
Minds, if you haven’t. I’ll certainly be there at lunch. And I’m looking forward to learning
even more than I already have. Thank you very much.
[ Applause ]