Home Chennai Meet Vijay Karunakaran, the man who plays with reality

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    Augmented reality merges with a mobile app in Vijay Karunakaran’s ode to Kochadaiiyaan

    When Vijay Karunakaran decided to quit his job at Intel (as head of design for the ATOM platform) and return to India a couple of years ago, he knew what he wanted to do: start his own company and put his vast knowledge in software and hardware to good use. InGage, which started operations over a year ago, develops gaming, custom software and augmented reality (AR). However, to kick things off, Karunakaran wanted something with a big bang—and what better platform than Rajinikanth and his new film, Kochadaiiyaan.

    Vijay_picRajini and you
    “The idea was not just to immortalise the superstar on screen, but also to bring him home with you,” says the die-hard Rajini fan. And since no smartphone app is good enough to hold the Thalaiva, he decided to go AR. “The Karbonn Kochadaiiyaan app gives you a 4D experience. Just train your phone’s camera on one of the preset markers that come with it (one of which is the Kochadaiiyaan poster), and Rajinikanth will come alive in the space around you. You can then play games, watch him fight (from a 360 degree angle), make him jump on to your hand and even click pictures with your arm around him,” says Karun-akaran, who sold the idea to Karbonn by buying one of their phones, creating a mock-up and presenting it to chairman, Sudhir Hasija.

    But why Karbonn and not a top-end phone? “Almost 80 per cent of smartphone users pick up phones between the range of `4,000 and Rs. 8,000. And I wanted to target this mass,” says Karunakaran, who holds an MS in Electrical Engineering from Tennessee Tech and an MBA in Entrepreneurship and Marketing from Duke University.

    An interactive life
    Karunakaran, who already has clients like Mitsubishi, GRT Hotels, Payback and Cognizant in his kitty, wants to take AR into other areas besides entertainment—like interactive tools for industrial use and as doctors’ aides. “We recently worked with body transformation expert Wanitha Ashok, who is launching her book, You Have an Excuse I Have an Exercise, tomorrow. With our app, you can point at the book and she will step out of its pages and demonstrate the exercises she’s talking about,” laughs Karunakaran, who also wants to do something similar for children. “Imagine a child colouring a kangaroo and then have it come to life with AR, sharing information like where it’s from and more. We are in talks with some schools to develop similar tools,” he signs off. Details: myingage.com

    -Surya Praphulla Kumar

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