Pranav Mistry who became a global sensation with his futuristic Sixth Sense technology in the past and recently came to the fore yet again while launching Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch, does not want to be dubbed as a gadget guru. The 32-year-old hailing from a small town of Gujarat now heads the Samsung's Think Tank Team and is the director of Research, Samsung Research America.
Although working on augmented reality, display technologies, futuristic television, mobiles, robotics apart from involved with Hollywood sci-flicks at the moment, Mistry is impatient to unravel the next big thing after digital revolution, he tells ET's Shramana Ganguly over a teleconference from US. Excerpts:
You have climbed the ladder pretty early in life. Where do you see yourself five years down the line?
Five years is a long time. I want to impact the world through futuristic yet affordable technologies to make the world a better place. I head the Samsung Think Tank Team at the moment. My lab is like a fantasy world - it is more like a James Bond movie! I connect to the world virtually now. I work on gadgets. If I get a role to play, I would like to lead India's IT division.
I have a background in technology, design, architecture, arts and sciences. I see myself as a multi-dimentional person. I have involved myself in langauge research for mobile devices during my IIT days and even worked on projects to make life simplier for rural India. In days to come, if I find something more challenging than my current role here, I might move. That could be making movies or teaching science to school kids - in a nutshell, something that could impact lives of people.
What made you conceptualise Sixth Sense?
Sixth Sense is my long-term vision. The idea is not about creating computing device. It is about connecting with the physical world. I have been at it since 1999. New wearable technologies be it Samsung Galaxy Gear or Google Glass would make the world an place.
What are the current projects you are working on at Samsung?
Apart from wearable devices, we are working on augmented reality, display technologies, televisions and mobiles.
Are you in awe of Hollywood that comes out with sci-fics?
I am connected to Hollywood in more ways than one. I am working with certain movie producers who are keen to understand the futuristic technologies that could be brought on screen. But it is Indian mythology that inspires me more than anything else. To think of it, these wonders existed even then. Yudhistir's mayanagri (Indraprastha) was nothing but augmented reality. It was illusion created on the ground where Duryodhana fell down.
Technological breakthroughs have to be impactful. They must change lives of people. What is your dream gadget?
I believe that this is just the beginning of my life. There is lot yet to be done. I am in search of the next information medium which is not digital. 50 years back, information was in the print medium in books and scriptures. Before that, it was in paintings, statues and carvings. They were all different forms of information technology. IT is a very old field and I believe we are on the edge. Digital world is changing its home and I am in search of an evolution that exists beyond the digital world.
What interests you more --discovering the existing wonders or inventing new things?
There is an element of "search" in research. We are just removing the cover. It is out there for us to find out. That drives me. I do not want to be a gadget guru - I want to understand the world better as a human. Every discovery is based on observation. We need to connect to the creator. Inventions happen when we go beyond discovering. I am not interested in the destination. It is the journey that excites me.
It is ironical that despite a background like yours, you get criticised for your accent. The social media was flooded with netizens commenting on your accent. How did you handle all the bashing?
I do not feel offensive about criticisms. There are more people who feel proud of what I do than those who pull me down. I want to be known as a proud Indian rather. I would rather not ape a foreign accent to make myself acceptable.