Shaping Seattle | Aadu and Rami discuss ClimateTech, Penguins, IoT, & Homelessness

25 min readFeb 19, 2021

[Shaping Seattle is a podcast that highlights the work of Seattle Shapers and other local impact leaders in the greater Seattle area. In our second episode of Shaping Seattle, Aadithya, and fellow Shaper Rami talk ClimateTech, Penguins, IoT, and homelessness in Seattle.

Aadithya (Aadu) is an environmentalist trapped in an engineer’s body. And he’s looking to collaborate with professionals from other sectors to build physical devices that help both our people and our planet. Find Aadu at Murrelet Innovation and check out work he’s contributed to at the Center for Ecosystem Sentinels, Facing Homelessness, & The Block Project.

The host, Rami Sayar, is a technologist exploring the intersection of design, startups, and the web. He is currently shipping new machine learning-powered user experiences to millions of visitors at Microsoft Bing. He is also an elder shaper who has been part of the Montreal, New York City, and Seattle hubs. Find him on his website.]

Episode 2 | ClimateTech, Penguins, IoT and Homelessness (Recorded: November 7th, 2020)

Aadithya Prakash: [00:00:00] Being able to work with different sectors and bring them all together and have them collaborate in a way that produces technology that pushes research forward, that pushes sustainability and equity goals forward. These are the ways that we can make it happen.

Rami Sayar: [00:00:25] All right. Welcome to the show! My name is Rami Sayar. I live here in Redmond, Washington and I work in tech. Today I’m very excited to introduce a member of the Seattle Global Shapers Hub, an initiative of the World Economic Forum: Aadithya Prakash. Welcome!

Aadithya Prakash: [00:00:42] Hey Rami. It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Rami Sayar: [00:00:45] I’m super excited for this show, mostly because we have a great personal relationship Aadu and I. I really love the work that you’re doing so I can’t wait to share with our listeners more about it. But before we get started, let’s get to know you. Can you please give us a quick overview of your background and the journey that led to where you are today?

Aadithya Prakash: [00:01:04] Yeah. My name is Aadu Prakash or Aadithya Prakash. I grew up in the Bay area and I am a firmware engineer. I work with embedded systems and I really just design products for people. You know how so many engineers are the tinkerers, right? They had devices that they took apart and put back together growing up.

I wasn’t that intense, but I always had this desire to build for good. So I wanted to build things that really benefited both the people and the planet. I went to school at the University of Pennsylvania originally thinking, okay, the best way to do this is to create medical devices.

So I enrolled in their bioengineering program. And I was really hoping that would give me a comprehensive toolkit to be able to finish my degree and then just get out there and start building stuff that goes in and on people. And, you know, I didn’t know much about FDA regulations back then.

I had dreams of me just like with a white, long beard, by the time I actually built my first device, I was like, Hmm, maybe this isn’t the way to go. I’m also like, my coursework was like very much. I was learning a lot of theoretical stuff: biochem, biology, stuff like that.

And what I really wanted was the hands-on tools to be able to start building, you know, devices most most often than not electronic devices. So I did a hard switch to computer engineering and, you know, just really did a deep dive into that coursework. And that’s when I found out about embedded systems.

Right. So being able to write in C and assembly and having these devices do exactly what you want. there’s kind of a dichotomy of like software where the code that you write is very abstract and it’s built on layers of abstraction, but with firmware, you’re literally writing code that changes zeros to ones changes, uh, LEDs from on and off makes motors whirl.

And it was, it was so cool. Being able to write code that had real-world, uh, applications and real-world things happen. And that’s when I realized this is the way to go for tech for good. So I started off with a few hackathon projects, pulling all-nighters, you know, long weekends,

Rami Sayar: [00:03:32] I remember those college days.

Aadithya Prakash: [00:03:35] Both the best times and the worst times, you know what I mean?

And, I actually got an internship in Switzerland where I got to work on the medical device that I, I wanted to do. It was a ECG, electrocardiogram monitor that was detecting, AFib, atrial fibrillation. So it was really cool. It was combining my passion of building things and actually like helping people and coming back I found that I could build on this embedded systems kind of background and start adding things like machine learning, AI, computer vision, which led me to do different projects, around medical still, but still building things for people.

So that led me to work at my previous firm here in Seattle called Synapse Product Development. Synapse is a firm where they literally just do that. The client has an idea. The client has a prototype. The client wants to take something to manufacturing and Synapse is the person or the firm to do it.

And what I found was I was working on a wide variety of projects, a wide variety of technologies, where I got to apply both my energy and also the skills that I had accumulated to build tech for a variety of sectors. For Synapse, it was mostly in the consumer electronic world, but the applications were endless.

And what I found though, after a few years, I was going back to those original roots of: okay, these are great. You know, there are some really cool pieces of technology that are coming out of this firm and like the work that I do, but is there more, right. You know, I want to help the planet.

I want to help the people like that’s that was my original intent. And so I started volunteering with this lab at the University of Washington that studies penguins down in Argentina and Rami you’ve, I’m sure you’ve heard this story before, but you know, I’ll tell the audience it’s penguins down in Argentina, you know, like that’s crazier.

Right. And, um, I didn’t know that they needed. Tech help. But apparently, they wanted me to build some equipment. And so I started doing that for about three or four months while working at Synapse. And then it got to a point where I was like, man, I just want to do this 40 hours a week. I don’t want to do 80 hours where it’s 40 hours at Synapse, 40 hours volunteering.

So I just started working with the lab and they sent me down to Argentina to live with the penguins and to deploy the technology. And it was great. The work that I did, I could see real life ramifications, real data gathered that was helping the lab in the research that they were doing.

And that’s kind of when things started to click. Before I was, you know, very much in the medical land and in synopsis, I really developed my skill set, but now I realized the power of collaboration. So being able to work with different sectors and bring them all together and have them collaborate in a way that produces technology that pushes research forward, that pushes sustainability and equity goals forward.

These are the ways that we can make it happen. And I just kind of realized that. And now what that’s led me to is starting a company called Murrelet Innovation. And it’s named after the marbled murrelet of the Pacific Northwest. It’s an endangered or threatened species of bird. What we’re trying to do at Murrelet Innovation is really build this tech and make this tech available for all and help organizations both in their sustainability and equity goals by building products for them.

Rami Sayar: [00:07:06] I love that story. It’s very inspiring. Can you tell us a little bit more about the projects that you’re working on at Murrelet Innovations?

Aadithya Prakash: [00:07:14] Sure Rami. I have to say we haven’t incorporated yet. We’re still looking for that first paying client, uh, we’re doing a lot of pro bono work right now, and that allows us to actually accept a lot ummm of interesting projects. My colleague and co-founder, she’s actually has a background in sustainable manufacturing and that’s one of the aspects of the company as well.

In one of our uh last projects. We had a small startup called little lab mates, and they make STEM-based toys for kids. They’re super excited about the product, but they were really interested in making it sustainably and making sure their materials weren’t going to be toxic.

And they were making sure that they were using sustainable and equitable manufacturers across the sea. So Alison was able to help them out and just in the span of a week by aggregating these materials resources and pointing them in the right direction because what we found is a lot of people have these great ideas.

Like you see these Kickstarters with people, building all these awesome, awesome things. And even if you go to Kickstarter now, a lot of them are trying to do it in sustainable and equitable ways. What we found is once we present these tools, they’re able to go in the right direction and not really waste a ton of time and money. I mentioned the penguins weighing scales that I built for the University of Washington. That was pre-company, but we’re trying to still court the wildlife conservation sector. The really cool thing is I don’t think many labs realize how impactful technology can be for wildlife research.

These scales in particular we’re trying to essentially collect as many penguin weights from the colony as possible over the course of a breeding season. So six months. And what we did was we placed these scales in between the colony and the sea on this little thing called the penguin highway.

We put three side by side and as the penguins would walk over, we would collect their weights, the time of day, and also if they had an RFID tag in their foot, we had an antenna there that would collect that information. So, if that individual were to cross multiple times, we would be able to see how their weight fluctuated over the course of a season and also over the course of many years. And when I was down, we collected roughly 200,000 weights, which was crazy because you know, this lab in the past had used physical weighing scales to measure weights. And if they did maybe five a day. That’s nothing that’s still fewer than 1000 weights.

So with this information, they’re really trying to assess, like I said, the health of the colony. This particular species is called the Magellanic penguin and they’re known to be a sentinel species for the Patagonia ecosystem. And what that means is if they are suffering, it’s a very likely indicator that the Marine and terrestrial ecosystems are suffering as well.

So in particular, their weights are representative of how much food is available. Is climate change affecting the ecosystem down there? What we found was over the course of decades, the food supply has been going down due to climate change and fishery mismanagement. So they really wanted to quantify this data with weighing scales, which I thought was just such a cool idea.

So that was really cool. They also talked about ideas around using computer vision. This is an idea that we bounce back with each other, but we didn’t pull the trigger on, but using computer vision to count penguins that are going to and from the colony. Because they usually have humans there with clickers that uhh are doing the work manually.

What I’m trying to say is there’s just so much room for innovation here. These are just two examples that one lab was benefiting from. There’s so many labs out there. There’s so many organizations and nonprofits that could use technology like this.

That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to highlight this piece and show, Hey, we’ll build anything you want. We’ll help with your research. We’re super excited.

Rami Sayar: [00:11:24] My comment on that is that you’re totally right. We should be super excited and I’m really glad that you are super excited. I think that there are many different ways that bits and atoms can be connected to help improve the state of the world. And the thing that intrigued me the most about your story is that there are likely so many more opportunities. More opportunities to help us understand our environment better, by being able to leverage some of these new IoT devices to gather data more easily. So I do hope that the research labs around the world take you up on your offer Aadu I really hope they do.

Now I want to ask you a fun little question. Are these penguins the cute kind of penguins that we see on tv or are they kind of the mean looking ones?

Aadithya Prakash: [00:12:05] Hahaha I love this question. So most people assume penguins are either like the King or Emperor penguins, which are like four feet tall, or like the little blue fairy penguins of New Zealand. And it’s neither, right? So there are four or so species of Spheniscus penguins, which are called jackass penguins because they bray like donkeys.

I wouldn’t classify them as the cutest type of penguins. In fact, they can be quite mean. Part of the work that I had to do while I was doing you know the engineering was also be a field biologist. Those guys nipped me pretty hard. Like we’d have to pull them out of nests and the audience can’t see it, but I don’t know, Rami, can you?

Rami Sayar: [00:12:48] Yeah, I see that scar.

Aadithya Prakash: [00:12:49] Yeah. The scar you see?

Rami Sayar: [00:12:50] A nice snip

Aadithya Prakash: [00:12:51] Yeah. It was just like dangling from my skin and, um, they’re cute in some ways, but not the traditional sense.

Rami Sayar: [00:12:59] Okay, now I’ve got to ask you a follow-up question. When you said that prior to your weighing device, the researchers would have to go and weigh these penguins using a scale? Does that mean that they actually have to go chase penguins around?

Aadithya Prakash: [00:13:13] So usually, um, I’ll explain something like this. The weighing scale, you know, we still had to do that because I had to make sure that the weights that we were recording actually matched the weight of the penguin. So some once in a while, we would have to assess is there any drift? Is there anything wrong with the actual scale itself? And in that case, yes. We’d be like, okay, we got to wait now, chase that penguin, it’s the one with like the freckle right here. And, uh, we chase it down and put a rope around his belly and then like, hang it from one of the scales.

But luckily in the past what they were doing, they weren’t measuring the penguins that were walking. They were focused on certain nests. So like a male and a female would be at a nest and tag team. Right. So when the male was out, the female would just plant herself there with the eggs, with the chicks.

It was pretty easy to pull them out with kind of a little hook by the ankle. And then we’d just grab their head and tie a rope around their belly and do the same thing. So.

Rami Sayar: [00:14:12] Wow. Okay. Dangerous dangerous work. I’m starting to wonder how many scars you’ve got now.

Aadithya Prakash: [00:14:20] I, you know, we can count them together. There’s too many for me to count.

Rami Sayar: [00:14:27] Tell me a little bit more about the weighing device itself. I’m very curious. I’m always interested in the mechanics of how these things work

Aadithya Prakash: [00:14:35] Yeah, this was pre-IoT and I was building off of an existing design by a PhD student at the University of Washington. It’s pretty simple. And what you’ll find for many of these solutions, a lot of off-the-shelf components work. Right? So. You add load cells on each of the corners of the rectangular box, obviously for measuring the weight and that’s essentially it, right?

And then you had a microcontroller, which is just an Arduino. That was doing the processing that had a custom algorithm that detected if a penguin was on the scale for too long, if multiple penguins went on to the scale or if some penguins just get on decide, nah, I’m not going to finish it and then come back off. We had a lot of thrown-out weights, but specifically because the algorithm was catching it. SD card for storing the data off of the Arduino, just in case there was any issues there and then we had an off-the-shelf WiFi component that was able to talk to the tablets that we had.

So since this is in remote Patagonia, we couldn’t do anything with WiFi. We looked into doing a cell-based solution, but what we found was we’re already there. We’re there every day. Why not just come over with a tablet and establish an ad-hoc connection and then just pull the data off that way without disturbing the penguins at the scale.

And then if that communication was disrupted, at least we had the SD cards to store that information and that seemed to work. I forgot to mention like the best part about this. And I think efforts like this should try to achieve is the devices should be able to work even after we’re gone.

I left the lab in 2018 and they still use the same scales every time that they go down to Patagonia and they’re still collecting weights. And many of these longitudinal studies that they have are still going on. So I think that’s a real win for us.

Rami Sayar: [00:16:36] Are there any key takeaways for our listeners about the penguins in Patagonia?

Aadithya Prakash: [00:16:40] Yeah, that’s a great question. You know, personally, while I was down there, I actually became vegetarian and then vegan for a while because I was able to see the effects that humans had on the Sentinel species. So many of the penguins were dying due to starvation. So as I mentioned, the male and female tag team, so one stays at the nest while the other searches for food and the fish supply was going further and further away. Uh, so they’d have to swim like hundreds of kilometers to be able to just get to the food. And at a certain point, both male and females may sometimes go when if one of the adults has been gone for so long and that leads to. Predation from like armadillos, other birds, foxes, weasels.

And so the chicks and eggs are just dying. Over the course of a few decades, they’ve seen the population slowly decline and it could be just from attrition like the penguins might just be going to different colonies. But The overwhelming sign is we’re having an impact on the planet, both through our existence and like what we do, but also our eating habits.

I can give people a bunch of takeaways, but I think climate change is a huge part of this as well. And some of the days that I was down there, it got over a hundred degrees and penguins were just dying from heatstroke and the reverse was opposite we saw torrential downpours that would just crush nets and drown birds. I think going to such a remote place and seeing nature work this way really showed that we as humans are influencing things and are actually contributing to the downfall of some ecosystems. I would just say continue to learn about these things.

And, you know, the big, big thing that I do now is watch where my food comes from and learn about the impacts of food production and distribution and consumption on climate change.

Rami Sayar: [00:18:44] What can our listeners do to help? Does this lab take donations?

Aadithya Prakash: [00:18:48] The lab is called the Center for Ecosystem Sentinels at the University of Washington. They study both Magellanic and Galapagos penguins, and I believe they do take donations on their site. They’re the only Center for Ecosystem Sentinels. So, I don’t have a URL, but I’m sure if he’s typed that into Google, you’ll find it.

You don’t need to solely focus on penguins. There are so many other organizations and labs that are doing this kind of work on Sentinel species, or even just a species that isn’t indicative of the ecosystem's health, but all of them could definitely use your money.

Rami Sayar: [00:19:22] We’ll make sure to have the link in the podcast notes. That was super inspiring Aadu. I can’t wait to talk more about these very aggressive penguins probably in some other setting.

Aadithya Prakash: [00:19:32] Yeah, I’ll show you my battle scars.

Rami Sayar: [00:19:35] So let’s talk about the work that you’re doing with facing homelessness in Seattle. Can you tell us a little bit more about that project?

Aadithya Prakash: [00:19:43] I’ll give some backstory here. So through Shapers, I met Jeremy Schiffberg who I believe was on the podcast earlier. Right. So he introduced me to a nonprofit called Facing Homelessness here in Seattle and they do really awesome work. They have this window of kindness where they have open on a daily basis where they have people staff there or volunteer there who give out socks, hot cocoa, and small items like this to people experiencing homelessness. And they’re able to come to this window and just chat and have a human conversation, which is something they don’t often get because people can be really mean out there.

So I participated in that window of kindness a few times and did some community cleanups where we just cleared trash from some homelessness encampments. And then I learned about this block project, which is something that the group does. They essentially build tiny homes for people experiencing homelessness here in Seattle.

And, uh, you know, I first started out doing some help with the landscaping, but I realized, you know, this would be really cool if there was some way tech can be introduced to this home and it could be for anything. I wanted to learn more. So I sat down with some of the organizers of block project.

I actually even went down to Georgetown to see how they were assembling these things. And they’ve got the process down pretty well. I think of it like Ikea, because they’ve essentially produced all these pieces of the house that they just fit in together. And now they’re calling on volunteers to actually do the fitting in of the pieces and just follow some instructions.

So they’ve gotten to the point where someone can be trained, like just for a short amount of time and can just jump into this. These houses are awesome. Someone who’s experiencing homelessness can get off the street and live comfortably in a tiny home.

And what they’re trying to do is one, make sure the occupant is safe, healthy , comfortable. Also they want to make sure that these homes are sustainably sourced. And I think that’s where Murrelet and this other pro bono project I’m working on came in. They’ve been like going through so many design changes, right? To improve on the process, to improve on the sustainability and whatnot. They want to confirm that with these design changes, that they’re not negatively affecting the health and safety of their occupants. And they said the main thing that they’re worried about is humidity especially here in the Pacific Northwest.

So with humidity comes rot, comes pests, comes a whole array of problems. And they said, if there’s a way to assess this over time. That will give us a better idea of if we’re doing the correct design changes and if we’re headed in the right direction.

It’s very much a proof of concept IoT device, where we built essentially a data collection platform using an ESP32 that collects temperature, humidity, and we’re trying for air quality as well, especially with the wildfires in the past few months. And what we’re trying to do is just collect that store it locally on an SD card, but also have it presentable on an AWS-type platform so that we can view these things graphically as well.

Rami Sayar: [00:23:18] So that’s really an interesting problem that you’re trying to solve. And the solution I would imagine it’s probably something that could be put together using off-the-shelf components maybe? When you look at the scale of this problem, how many tiny homes are being built, and how often does humidity and temperature have an effect on the quality of life of the folks living in those homes? Can you speak a little bit more about that?

Aadithya Prakash: [00:23:40] It’s enough of a problem that they were excited that we offered our services and that they said the number one thing they need is humidity monitoring or collection.

I believe that it’s enough of a problem here in the Pacific Northwest that they need to constantly be aware and constantly do data collection and validation of their hypothesis that the homes that they’re building will not aggregate humidity.

I know one particular case is when an occupant is cooking, right. what does that do to the humidity? Or just the environmental conditions within the house itself.

I think McKinsey came out with a report, uh, last year, probably the year before. And they were saying like, it’s going to cost 450 million to 1.1 billion per year for the next 10 years to build enough permanent supportive housing for this crisis. And there are many people who believe, let’s focus on these big permanent supportive housing structures, but there’s also a movement of, you know, building tiny homes. I think there’s multiple solutions to this problem. And so I think block project just wants to make sure that the homes that they’re creating aren’t going to be in unlivable conditions, if that makes sense. And you’re right like a lot of these components can be found off the shelf and especially like a temperature and humidity sensor, like I think when we were first, talking to the block project, we suggested a few off the shelf components on Amazon that were just a temperature monitor with like a graphical user interface. And it’s 10 bucks on Amazon and we suggested, Hey, you know, you can just use this for an R and D kind of experiment, but I think what they were also interested in was the ability to add more sensors to it, to customize what the experience was of receiving that information on a cloud-based IoT platform.

As they learn more and more, as they get more and more information from these sensors that are going to have more questions, they’re going to be more nuanced on what kind of data that they’re interested in. And I think making this from scratch paves the way for them to go down that route in the future.

Rami Sayar: [00:25:56] Do you think that through building these projects that Murrelet Innovation will be able to build a comprehensive platform for nonprofits in the field? Non-profits or other organizations that need to collect data like this?

Aadithya Prakash: [00:26:10] That’s the plan, right? This pro bono work is definitely building that portfolio. It’s definitely helping me as well. My background is purely in electronics and firmware. I took some CS classes and I have some CS background, but interfacing with the cloud and interfacing with IoT is getting me out of my comfort zone so it’s also helping me develop my skillset there. And in to answer your question. Yes, I think, this kind of project can be like a cookie-cutter model for many other nonprofits, small businesses, like individual innovators as well. So many people want to collect data, data that they don’t know is out there and don’t know how to collect without a sensor. There’s a lot of invisible patterns and things that they can find with the sensors. So I totally think that this is something that other nonprofits can use. I also think we have to be careful though, right? Because you can’t just throw a sensor out there like an accelerometer running at one kilohertz, and then just dump that information all on your computer and then you wind up with gigs and gigs and gigs of data sift through.

So there is a cleaning method, right. Data mining, post-processing that needs to be done to actually find these patterns and find valuable information from this data. So I think there is some more work that still needs to be done on how to streamline that for small businesses and nonprofits, but the core of the technology is there. And like that technology can be used in so many different applications, which is really the crux of this company. The stuff is out there. The innovation is there. Let’s just make it available for everyone.

Rami Sayar: [00:27:51] So, whenever we talk about IoT, we’re talking about these electronic devices that are going to start collecting data, and typically they end up all over the place. So one of the key issues in the IoT space is how do you handle the maintenance and security of these devices? They’re just out in the field, they made degrade, they may become out of date. They just may stop working.

How do we make sure that we can find these devices and reuse them so we don’t end up littering the planet with tiny microcontrollers?

Aadithya Prakash: [00:28:20] Yeah, that’s a great question. And I think that’s. That’s something we’re we have in the back of our mind as we develop these things, as we build the system for facing homelessness on the block project. I can say, so I went to a conference, DEF CON, about four years ago in Vegas. I think one of the best talks that I went to was about how easy it is to hack into most IoT devices. One of the examples was this guy was just hacking smart locks, right?

And there are tons of smart locks that are available on Amazon. And I think my old firm worked on some in the past as well. Like in many cases, Airbnbs are using these for security, but this guy like drove around his neighborhood and was able to manually either brute force or through some other methods were able, were able to break these within like minutes, seconds. It was so fast and that was like a pure software-based approach, but there are also ways of retrieving the device. I think you can, in one example, he was able to short two pins and then just enter the bootloader and like you enter the bios and okay, great.

Now you have full access to the entire system, right? What kind of information can you gather from there? So yes, like this is a huge topic and I’m in grad school right now, like evening classes for electrical engineering. And a lot of the papers that I’m reading are specifically on IoT and how can we make this more secure?

For this use case, right, we are right now creating one device and we are going to be deploying it in one house and we’re probably going to be working with the block home managers working with the occupant of the house and being as transparent as possible as to the data that we’re collecting.

But there’s still other ramifications, right? One person brought this up, Hey, you’re putting a temperature sensor in a house. And if someone is bringing in a guest, the temperatures probably going to rise, right. Because of having two bodies in the same room, in an enclosed area, how do you account for something like that?

What if they’re not supposed to have X number of people in the space. And now that your data that you’re collecting is showing that how are you going to account for that? And these are questions. I don’t have the answer right off the bat, but I think the fact that we’re keeping this in mind and we’re developing the system and soon-to-be other systems based on these security principles will be important.

And you’re totally right there.

Rami Sayar: [00:31:04] Yeah, so security and maintenance along with privacy are one of the key challenges for IoT. We know a lot of devices are just left out there sometimes, and they just ended up being connected to the internet for years, way after security vulnerabilities have been discovered and patched. They may just still be connected and out of date.

This is something to keep in the back of our minds. I really appreciate that you at your company are keeping security and privacy at the forefront of all the work that you’re doing? Are there any key takeaways for our listeners that you would like to share about homelessness in Seattle in the work that you’re doing?

Aadithya Prakash: [00:31:36] So I’ve mentioned facing homelessness. I think there are great non-profit in the area. There’s also a DSC and Plymouth Housing that do great work with actually providing housing and support for people experiencing homelessness here in Seattle. And honestly, I think one big thing is donations.

I’m trying to do monthly donations to these nonprofits, but I think the big thing that Facing Homelessness tries to tell people when they say, how can I get involved? They just told us to like smile at and talk to people. You know, there are so many people in Seattle facing homelessness who don’t get the time of day and yeah, I think it’s really important for us to just be human and to have like these conversations. Back when I was volunteering with them pre-COVID, I would carry Bombas socks around in my backpack. if someone was in need of socks, you know, like have a conversation with them, give them some socks or if they’re outside a grocery store, you know, I try to talk with them, see how they’re doing and if they ever need any food or essentials from inside. So I would just, I would say donate obviously if you can, but if you don’t, if people are strapped right now during COVID just talk to people and be human. And I think empathy goes a long way.

Rami Sayar: [00:32:52] Aadu thank you so much for that really insightful conversation about IoT and helping solve some of the issues that we’re seeing in Seattle. Now I’d like to ask you a few quick questions. I’ve been doing this with most of our guests. What book or author or are you reading or following today ?

Aadithya Prakash: [00:33:07] I’m currently reading Infidel by I think Ayaan Hirsi Ali and it’s an autobiography. She’s from Somalia and just talking about her life as an activist and politician. It’s part of this larger thing that I’m doing called book tourism, since we’re not able to visit too many places right now. I really love reading books by authors from those countries.

Rami Sayar: [00:33:31] If there was one wish a genie could grant you, what would it be

Aadithya Prakash: [00:33:35] More time if I could somehow like snap my fingers and then just read for 12 hours and then snap them again and then just proceed with my day. That’d be great. But if a genie could grant me that that’d be awesome. I just need more time in the day.

Rami Sayar: [00:33:50] What are you most grateful for today?

Aadithya Prakash: [00:33:53] Yeah. I’d have to say community. I’d say like friends and family especially during the COVID just people being there for each other and propping each other up. I think it’s super important and I’m really grateful for my communities here in Seattle.

Rami Sayar: [00:34:08] How can our listeners reach you?

Aadithya Prakash: [00:34:11] If you want us to build products for you or consult on sustainable manufacturing, you can reach me at You can also go to to see more about the past work that we’ve done and what we’re currently working on.

Rami Sayar: [00:34:27] We will have that in the show notes. Thank you so much Aadu. This was a lot of fun and I’m really excited to hear more about your journey and the next upcoming months. I’m sure we’ll have a follow-up conversation as well in another season of this podcast. Thank you so much.

Aadithya Prakash: [00:34:43] Can I, can we flip next time so that I am interviewing you because I think you have a great gig right here, and I want to take part of it hahaha.

Rami Sayar: [00:34:53] Sounds good. We can definitely do that. We’ve been changing up the hosts in each of the episodes or as many episodes as we can, so we can definitely make that happen. Thank you so much! I had a lot of fun. I’m sure our listeners are really gonna enjoy this.

Aadithya Prakash: [00:35:07] Appreciate it, man. Cool. Take care.




A global network of engaged young people under the age of 30 working on local issues around the world. Born out of the World Economic Forum.