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Meet the 11 year old coders from Bangalore building a Siri like assistant

Meet the 11 year old coders from Bangalore building a Siri like assistant
GoHr / 20 Jan 2017

Out of 2248 applications, team CoderDragons caught everyone’s attention at Go Hack 2017; a hackathon conducted by Indonesian based transport and payments startup GO JEK at their Bangalore office.

The team comprised of 11 year old Mrinal Jain and 12 year old Shreyas Katuri, the youngest coders amongst a group whose average age was around 30 years. Both of them are 6th graders from the National Public school, HSR layout, Bangalore.

Mrinal and Shreyas are building a platform called Erica which will work as a virtual voice assistant and can gather information from across the web on the mobile phone and will function irrespective of the local language barriers. “I wanted to build something which can interact and help even a blind person who cannot use the phone,” says Shreyas.

Erica was built using Google API’s and is a console application as of now. CoderDragons is planning to put it into the Google engine and later on the iOS store.

The daily grind

Mrinal’s day starts at 06:30 am. By the time he finishes school and reaches home, it’s almost 04:00 pm. For the next one hour, he reads his daily passages from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and then takes out time to play video games.

It’s only at night for an hour, that he devotes his time to coding. Mrinal started coding on Scratch, a free platform which can be used for creating for games and animations. “I went on scratch for three years and then I got these robots which I could program on an iPad and upload it. That was also block language,” says Mrinal.

But his real thrust towards programming started when his parents gifted him an Arduino Microcontroller. He created a Bluetooth enabled car which follows commands from an app on the mobile phone. This gave him confidence and he then started searching for coding courses online.

This led him to learn JavaScript from Khan Academy in 2016 and during the end of last year; he got started learning Python from the online interactive platform Codecademy. Python also happens to be his favourite programming language.

His teammate, Shreyas has turned his washroom into a library of sorts with books on Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Sundar Pichai and Elon Musk. “I started reading Steve Jobs Biography and wanted to become someone like him or Steve Wozniak and this got me into programming,” says Shreyas.

He started with C and he says this will help him build his base for Python, Ruby and other languages.

Shreyas couldn’t just stop at C, he wanted to more about other programming languages. This quest led to create a profile on Quora where he could know about lots of other things related to computer science. Today, he knows to code in C Sharp, Objective C, Swift, C and a bit of C++.

“I asked my father about Quora and he helped me with creating a profile although I was too young for that,” says Sheryas.

Shreyas is not the one who loves playing outdoors. After coming home from school, he utilizes his time in reading books about various successful entrepreneurs. “I don’t have a vision but I want to build something on the software side and why can’t I be successful if ordinary people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates made it big.”

Shreyas wants to create an AI system that will talk to everybody and do their jobs. “I want to create a bot that can think unlike Siri and learn from its past mistakes.” While Mrinal wants to use his coding prowess to connect the electrical waves from the waves to the computer so that he is able to store memories.

Go JEK which conducted this hackathon, is ten months old in terms of their bunnies in India and want to integrate the programming talent with their community. “We want to interject ourselves into the developer community. Moreover, we want to give these kids a platform to showcase skills which is sometimes not possible at larger events,” says Swaminathan Seetharaman, SVP, Goproducts Engineering India.