Radio Chain

The idea for Radio Chain came to me when I took part in a hackathon last year. There was a task that called for the participants to find a way to connect devices in the absence of mobile connection.

All in all, this is a very relevant topic. Many global companies such as Google or Facebook, entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, and even governments are talking about the global internet. You may have read the news about the “space internet” and similar ideas. But first of all, they are all very costly, and secondly, setting them up will take not a day and not even a year.

Building a network of this kind is a long, arduous process. That’s why I decided to take the opposite approach and create a local network for people in areas where there is no connection, which can be very useful in some cases. It works like this: your smartphone/computer/laptop converts text, or any other data, to binary code. Based on that sequence of zeros and ones, the device produces a sound signal that carries the message. Other devices decrypt the incoming message and determine whether it was addressed to them.

This network can be useful to the military, to rescue workers, travelers, and the participants of team games like paintball, strikeball, LARP, and so on. Some live quest companies have already expressed interest in this idea.

Getting started in programming

I go to a regular school, and I was never trained for something specific in any of my classes. All specialized knowledge I have, I acquired on my own. I was helped by my parents and also took classes with a tutor for a few months, but continued to learn on my own. All in all, I’ve been programming for more than four years, starting out on Pascal and then switching to C++. These days I work on projects of all kinds and take part in hackathons.

I can’t say that programming is my prime interest. For me it is, first and foremost, a way to bring my projects to life. At first I would set up servers, tune them, and sell them, which even got me a bit of profit. But then I realized that time flies and I need to think bigger. That’s how I got into programming.

Project work

I started doing projects in seventh or eighth grade. My first project, by the way, is still available in two marketplaces; it’s an app for Android and iOS that uses various data to calculate the optimal days for conceiving a child. It’s based on research carried out by scientists over the span of thirty years. I utilized the patterns they’ve found to build an algorithm hosted on a server to which the app connects. This was a project I worked on together with my parents. A year ago I became interested in architecture and recently completed an order for a floor plan.

Another project I’m working on right now is about pets. When people want to get a pet, they start looking for options and, of course, end up finding the ones sold for crazy-high prices. But the thing is that in every country, including ours, plenty of animals live in shelters and aren’t any different from those that are sold. It’s a topical issue because there are so many homeless pets that the shelters just can’t handle them all. My goal is to solve that issue and provide a solution that gives people an alternative that’s less costly and also beneficial to animal shelters.

How to win your first hackathon

In the recent years I’ve started to take an active part in various hackathons. My first one was in Moscow, where I had to develop a solution for the Liza Alert search-and-rescue organization. I got the first prize even though I was competing alone against six- or seven-person teams. It was, of courses, a very significant achievement for me: my first hackathon and my first victory.

The participants were tasked with developing an app that would track the positions of members of a search team in areas with poor internet connection. This was necessary to coordinate the teams’ actions and keep track of areas that have been checked. I developed an Android app that tracks the user’s location and an online app that displayed a map of the area. Using the online app, users can create operations and mark the search areas, after which the app generates a key. When smartphone users join the operation, their location shows up in the online app. Even if they lose connection, their data is still saved and uploaded when they connect to the internet.

The National Technological Initiative Contest. Credit:
The National Technological Initiative Contest. Credit:

I also suggested a couple gamification solutions, such as giving the volunteers a point for each step made, and then letting them redeem these points for unique messenger stickers, for example. These kinds of features help stimulate people to take part in volunteer initiatives.

I participate in hackathons and competitions whenever I can. In the past year, I’ve met a lot of new acquaintances, and even a few people from the National Technological Initiative, which gives me an opportunity to develop new projects.

How to be effective at learning and developing

How does one manage everything? The best time management method, I’d say, is tackling issues as they arise. Of course, that rule might also lead you to your only having half the work done five hours before a deadline… But if you use it right, it might make you even more productive.

Future plans

After I graduate from school, I’d like to enrol at ITMO University in a neurotechnologies program. I plan to take part in the ITMO.STARS contest, for which I’m compiling a portfolio of my works.

The 8th Congress of Young Scientists
The 8th Congress of Young Scientists

I would still like to continue working on projects, as they are very helpful in terms of learning. I believe that you learn best when you’re working on something and acquire knowledge in the process. I never would have learned any of the things that I got to know about were it not for Radio Chain. Processing of digital signals is complicated enough as a technology that you’re not likely to learn it unless there’s another goal behind it. Especially without good background knowledge and university-level training.

I want to keep doing projects related to different areas of human life. It may be biology, or chemistry, or physics. And I’d like to involve different specialists in these projects. The unity of people with varied competences and a common goal is, I believe, the key to a productive team.

Even from my current experience, I can tell that teamwork has more potential than the work of an individual. When I prepare for the Unified State Exam with others, we always get 100 points or nearly that. It would be interesting if you could sign up as a team for the state exams. After all, it would display your teamwork skills, and that’s important. Knowledge can be acquired at any point, but communication skills are harder to get as an adult if you didn’t get them as a child. If you can work in a team, you’ll survive in the modern world.