EyeBall, a product aimed at improving visibility in the recruitment process for overseas high school basketball players, was the big winner at the BU Spark! Demo Day April 30, capturing the Judges Choice Award. Demo Day is a biannual event where students showcase the innovative projects they’ve been working on throughout the semester.
Students can choose to pursue one of two pathways at BU Spark! the University’s technology incubator and experiential learning lab for student-led computational and data-drive projects, and both offer course credit: Innovation Fellows work on original projects—like EyeBall—while X-Lab participants help outside organizations improve existing products.
Last year, EyeBall team leader Sameer Chaturvedi (CAS’21) made contact with a basketball coach in Spain who was interested in the play-tracking software Chaturvedi was developing. The software allows broadcast-quality footage of basketball games using an affordable panoramic camera.
“We get a live-streamed feed of the game footage with a panoramic camera,” Chaturvedi says. “You can set it and forget it because the camera gets a 180-degree field of view. The livestream is pushed into our pipeline, which runs it through our algorithm that does the automatic panning. It detects the action on the court, where players are, and where the ball may be, and then it crops the 180-degree field of view that covers both sides of the court to just one side of the court.”
For Spark! the EyeBall team had to come up with a consumer-based product, so they decided to add athlete profiles, where high school basketball players can take clips from games shot by EyeBall that highlight their skills to create a visual résumé to provide to coaches along with their academic information, stats, and their team’s record. Chaturvedi and team members Anthony Ter-Saakov (CAS’21), Arushi Gupta (CAS’21), Ayca Solmaz (CAS’23), and Hannah Huang (CFA’23) plan to add recruiter profiles so that not only can coaches look at athletes, but athletes can look at the schools recruiting them.
Student-athletes using EyeBall will have professional-looking videos to show colleges, rather than grainy cell phone footage.
“In America, people can go to ID camps, upload highlights on [hands-free camera service and recruitment platform] HUDL, and recruiters can recruit them personally,” says Solmaz, who is from Turkey. “To get recruited [internationally], you usually have to be on a national team. I’m speaking from experience—my friends that have gotten recruited were just from national teams. [EyeBall] allows everyone to be recognized.”
Judging for Demo Day were Langdon White, Laura Wright, and Gina Doyle from Red Hat, Asad Malik from Philips, Durjoy Ace Bhattacharjya from medicalrecords.com, Michael Hendrick from Facebook, Roger Hunt from IdeaTrek, Matthew Miller from DocHub, Geri Barrison from IBM, Prasad Kothapalli, a BU IS&T senior data architect, Gerard Shockley, a BU IS&T cloud broker, and Wayne Snyder, a College of Arts & Sciences associate computer science professor. All award-winning teams receive a plaque and an Amazon gift card for each team member.
“I did not expect it,” Solmaz says. “I was overwhelmed with emotion.”
Spot, a crowd-measuring mobile app that lets BU students find quiet study areas, won the Spark! Innovation Fellow Audience Choice Award. It aims to eliminate the search for places to study, allowing students more time for studying. It was created by Evan Hsu (CAS’23), Tilak Agarwal (CAS’23), Preksha Munot (CAS’22), John Chai (CAS’23), and Katie So (CFA’22).
A data-entry app made for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office won the Audience Choice Award for X-Lab projects. The app, designed by Nikita Jakkam (CAS’21), Jana Mikaela Aguilar (CAS’22), Anthony Chang (CAS’22), Justin Janice (CAS’21), Kari Everson (CFA’21), and Sloane Schuchman (CFA’21), makes it easier to digitize handwritten records.
As part of the evening event, students working with BU’s new Justice Media Co-Lab, a collaboration between the Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences and the College of Communication that launched this semester to train a new generation of computational investigative journalists, presented stories they had created through the lab, which pairs journalism students with data science students to comb through data sets to find stories.
One group of students, Angela Yang (COM’23), Shaun Robinson (COM’21), Kami Rieck (COM’21), and Mahmoud Khalil (ENG’21), worked on a news story about the failure of the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program to provide minority-owned businesses with the funds they needed. CBS Boston handed the team the database and asked them to find a story, which the station covered. Another group of students, Bzu Shiferaw (CAS’21, COM’21), Melissa Ellin (CAS’23, COM’23), Kate McGowan (CAS’22), and Sangsoo Lee (ENG’21), uncovered racial disparities from Massachusetts arrest data. Their story was later published on NBC Boston’s website and reported by NBC 10 investigators.