Taking my Indoor Positioning System Outdoors to Edinburgh: Meet Manisha Ajmani

By Manisha Ajmani

If a boy from a small town becomes something in life, it motivates people from his town to work harder. If a country’s sports team wins a trophy, young people are motivated to take up sports. Similarly, if women do something good in the field of science, then more young women would follow, and, Soapbox Science is one of the platforms which gives an opportunity to encourage young women to pursue the field of science and prove that women can and have contributed to science. Women researchers can share ideas, come together and make the general population aware of what is currently being done in the field of science. It also helps generate new ideas and thoughts among the general public. This time I was a part of Soapbox Science held in Edinburgh on July 22nd, 2017!


Let me tell you about my Soapbox Science Journey…

I am a second year PhD student at the School of Engineering and Built Environment at Glasgow Caledonian University. One fine evening, I received an email from my supervisors, Dr Sinan Sinanovic and Dr Tuleen Boutaleb, informing me about the Soapbox Science event. I thought it would be just like any other outreach event, but later on while doing some research on the event I realized that I have to stand on a box in the streets and explain my research to the general public! I was a bit anxious about how I was I going to describe my research in simple words so that even children could understand it. I started thinking of props which I could use to make them understand. My mind was wreathed with ideas and thoughts.

Then I applied for the Soapbox Science event in Edinburgh in hope of positive feedback and after a couple of days I got an email stating that “We are delighted to let you know that you have been selected to take part in our event which will take place on Saturday 22 July 2017”. I was elated on being selected as one of the 12 scientists from Scotland and representing the Glasgow Caledonian University. I had a great experience of meeting other women scientists and volunteers, knowing different fields of research, their research experiences, how passionate they are about Science, while attending the training session.

On 22nd July 2017, Saturday Morning arrived, I left from Glasgow for Edinburgh around 10 am for the event. While traveling, lots of questions were running in my mind. Also, I was hoping for a nice and warm weather, but it’s Scotland! So it’s raining as usual. I was a bit nervous and kept thinking about how I will start and how I am going to proceed, how I will catch the audience’s attention, how many people will be there and so on..!! Upon reaching Edinburgh, I reached the venue “The Galleries precinct on The Mound”. The Soapbox Science event was from 12-3pm and my slot was 1-2pm, so I arrived early to listen to the first four speakers. It was raining, but still no one could stop Science from reaching out to people.

Now, it was my turn. At 1 pm I wear my white coat and stand at the Soapbox ‘box’ which had my name and the title of my research “Developing a low cost indoor positioning system using optical wireless communication”. By the time I stood on the box, it started raining heavily, but I have to thank the Soapbox volunteers who supported and helped us throughout the event. Though it was raining, people were still very enthusiastic and keen to know about our research. I used pictures to share my ideas. People were interested in knowing about my research, they had many questions about the applications, how lights can be used for tracking, what will be the cost of a device and so on. For the first 15 minutes, I was a bit nervous, but later on I didn’t even realize when the clock turned to 2 pm and my time was over.  I felt so happy and proud of myself.

After the event, we had a group picture and now it was time to say “GOODBYE” to everyone. We are now connected with each other and their respective research on social media and I would like to thank Soapbox Science for giving me this opportunity and wish all success in the years to come.

This is one of the most beautiful moments of life which will always remain with me!

A quick overview of my research:

My research focuses on developing a low-cost alternative for indoor positioning systems by proposing positioning algorithms based on Optical Wireless Communication (OWC) technology using light. Using these algorithms we can extend help to dementia affected people and make their life a bit easier. This technology can be used in large facilities like hospitals, convenience stores, manufacturing units and apartments to locate large objects or people by installing OWC based indoor positioning system using LED lights.

So, in simple words, we use lights to locate people and things inside a room

This entry was posted in 2017 speakers blog. Bookmark the permalink.