How well did Wells do in CISCO?

Our journey through CISCO Switch-Up challenge required lot of effort. I remembered reading all the papers about water intake, analyzing of all the data and modelling the correct algorithms. I recalled how much time Martin spent manufacturing the prototype. However, I knew that all this effort was justified, just after the wheels of our airplane touched the ground of San Jose International Airport. Martin and I came to enjoy the first prize in British national round of CISCO Switch-Up challenge – a week long excursion in CISCO Systems headquarters.

First thing that amazed me was weather – as Londoners, we receive good portion of clouds and rain throughout the year. Well, clear and sunny sky was the first sign that this trip is going to be really great.

After we had arrived in beautiful Larkspur Landing Milpitas hotel and had overcome our jet-lag, we decided to fill a free Sunday with trip to famous Stanford University. Well, I can only attest to the opinion of one of my lecturer, who said that Stanford University had the most beautiful campus in the World.

But the serious program started on the following day. After we met winners of the Polish national round CISCO Switch-Up challenge, Federico and Alfredo coming from El Salvador, we were about to begin our official program in CISCO HQ in San Jose. What was on our agenda? Nothing smaller than LIVE video-conference with CISCO interns from all over the World and Chuck Robbins, CEO of CISCO. It was a great opportunity to listen to the top executive and also to see how bright and diverse CISCO interns are.

After the video-conference, lessons in success continued. John Chambers, Executive Chairman and former CEO of CISCO came to us and Cisco interns in person and we could ask him anything about CISCO, business, or life. John’s wisdom was as great as his charisma! I was privileged by having opportunity to ask him two questions and I will summarize the greatest lessons I learned from one of the most successful businessman in my next blog post.

In the afternoon, we went to the big lunch provided by food track and accompanied by music and various attractions, followed by Engineering Intern showcase presentations. There we could learn about what the CISCO interns are working on during their internships.

On Tuesday morning, we attended Cisco Intern Expo, where we had opportunity to network with recruiters from various departments of CISCO. During the lunch we met our guide, Laura Torres, who subsequently guided us through Cisco campus.

The journey through the Cisco campus gave us opportunity to see the offices, where the top technology, data analytics, and business is being made. Open-space areas enabling tight cooperation, conference rooms suited for business meetings, rooms with table attached to treadmill, so that you get some movement while working (and maybe burn off some of the free food that was widely available!) ... It was really thrilling.

However, the highlight of the day was yet to come. As we were going through the top management building, we basically bumped into John Chambers and had a unique opportunity to talk with him for at least a while. How surprised I was, when I realized that he remembered the questions I asked him during the intern session a day ago! Since then, I started to listen to the others much more carefully (Thank you for this lesson, John Chambers!).

Have you ever thought about how the certification and testing of all those electronic gadgets is done, so that they can be safe and operating properly? We received answers to this question during our Corporate Compliance Tour. We were introduced into process of testing of operation of devices even in extreme conditions, such as high pressure and high temperature.

After the Tour, we were given a really eye-opening Demo about strategy, new projects and bearing of CISCO. As a Bioengineer, I was especially delighted to hear about devices with possible applications in health care. Rest of the day was spent with Engineering interns and Digitization interns by listening to their captivating testimonials about working in CISCO.

The last day spent on the CISCO campus was Thursday. We saw the Security Facilities Operations Center and we learned about some of the safety measures used to protect CISCO employees and property. Later, previous CISCO International Internship Program interns, shared their experiences about possibility to get into CISCO as international students.

Could we visit San Jose without seeing San Francisco? Seeing San Francisco was our objective for Friday. Martin and I walked all the way from the train station through the Port of San Francisco, Union Square, Market Street, to pier closest to Alcatraz and Golden Gate. We walked more than 15 km on that day, but it really paid off!

Saturday, the last day of our trip had come way too fast and suddenly we had to leave the sunny California. However, we took a large suitcases full of memories, experiences and friendships.

All this was thanks to our participation in CISCO Switch-Up challenge. So if you have an innovative idea using Internet of Things do not hesitate and apply right now!

We would like to thank to all employees and friends from CISCO, who made our time spent in California unforgettable: Carla Leigh for scheduling our agenda and for her guidance, Laura Torres, University Relation Specialist for guiding us through the CISCO campus, and Marie Bauvin for organizing our trip, and to many other newly-acquired friends.

Also, we would like to thank to personnel of Larkspur Landing Milpitas hotel for their hospitality. Miroslav Gasparek


Wells at VivaTech Paris 2016.

Sometimes, the opportunities arrive suddenly and require us to take an action quickly. Case scenario: receiving an e-mail from CISCO University Relations Team on Friday with the offer of the free ticket to the biggest European start-up conference in Paris starting on following Wednesday! We at wells knew we could not miss it.

Therefore, I and Martin completely changed our agendas and left to Paris. Looking back, I must say that it was definitely worth of it. VivaTechnology Paris welcomed more than 500 start-ups in various stages of funding. All of them were bringing great business ideas that can definitely have positive impact in the World. From bioengineer’s perspective, it was good to see many of them focused on health technology and biotechnology.

The conference did not only have start-ups seeking investments. Facebook, Google, Novartis... All these large players were present at VivaTechnology, showing various aspects of their huge portfolio. Facebook staff lectured about the secrets of the successful Facebook advertising campaigns. Google brought the real Google Car to the Europe for the first time and also presented its Project Jacquard, which transforms everyday objects like clothes into interactive surfaces. The project was introduced by its project lead, Dr Ivan Poupyrev, who is one of the leaders within Google Advanced Technology and Projects division. Opportunity to talk to him, hand him my CV and telling him about my ideas of using Project Jacquard in biomedical applications is definitely unforgettable experience.

However, probably the highlight of the conference were talks by the most important people in today’s industry. I talked in person with Co-Founder and VP of LinkedIn about use of physiological data that wellsApp could provide for diagnostic purposes - not exactly a day-to-day experience! But the highlight of the event was the talk by Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Alphabet, the parent of Google and the world’s most valuable public company. His message was clear - Biotechnology, bioengineering, big data analysis and interconnection of things are the biggest and most exciting upcoming topics. You can guess that wells is more than happy to hear that.

We have seen much more interesting things and powerful people, ranging from Founder and CEO of Google Deep Mind (creators of computer program that beat Grandmaster in Go multiple times) to the Secretary of Economics of Israel. To conclude, the conference was an unforgettable experience and it gave us a lot of motivation into the following hard work on wellsCap. In the meantime… Stay hydrated!


Wells chosen as the finalist of Social Impact Award SK!

Getting starting capital for wells, participating in the summer incubation program, individual consultations and workshops, becoming the member of international community Impact HUB and receiving workspace and support of Impact HUB Bratislava. It almost sounds too good to be true, but this is exactly what the winners of Social Impact Award receive.

Social Impact Award is international competition for young people, especially students, who have an innovative and sustainable idea that addresses social or ecological problems - this is exactly what we in Wells are trying to do. By monitoring their water intake, we are helping to keep people healthy, happy and fit, and this is beneficial for individuals, society and environment. But let's talk a bit more about the competition.

After registration, organizers and selected jury members chose the best 14 to 16 projects. Along with other teams successful in the first round, we took part in Skype interview, so that we got an opportunity to tell the organizers more about our motivation, work, and progress. We then impatiently expected the announcement of the finalists. And we got congratulatory e-mail! So, we are one of the 10 finalists of the Social Impact Award.

So what does it all mean? We will now participate in the summer incubation program under the patronage of Rozbehni sa and Impact HUB. Throughout the summer, we are going to have four camps full of consultations, professional workshops and networking. Before the end of the program, we will make a project video about Wells (and I tell you now - get ready, for it will be jaw-dropping!) for public voting. And then, in the end of September, the winners will be announced during a gala evening. Two winners will be chosen by the jury, which assesses social impact, innovativeness, sustainability of project, and project team. The third winner will be chosen by public voting, so this will be your opportunity to support us in this stage of our journey!

As with every success, we are motivated to work even harder. So have fingers crossed for us and stay hydrated!


Ten Benefits of Optimal Water Intake

We at wells are often asked why we decided to focus on providing solution for proper water intake. The answer is: Drinking enough water is important. I mean REALLY important - not only as a prevention of that weird feeling of dry mouth when you are thirsty. In this blog, I will give you 10 scientifically backed reasons why you should strive for optimal water intake. (DISCLAIMER: You will probably become thirsty after you will read this article!)

1. Staying hydrated enables you to keep optimal physical performance.

Well, this is one of the best documented effects of proper water consumption. Research[1] shows that even modest dehydration (2% of bodyweight) significantly impairs performance and this negative effect worsens with further dehydration. So whether we are talking about heavy squatting or distance running, never forget to take your water bottle with you.

2. Sufficient water intake prevents drop in cognitive functioning.

Have you noticed that when you are thirsty, your ideas are not that clear, bright and creative as they are if you are hydrated properly? I did notice it few times in my high school (and unfortunately markers did as well). Unfortunately, this is effect of proper water consumption that is often overlooked. Yet the dehydration harms your concentration, alertness and short-term memory[2] , and even decrease your mood[3][4]. So strive for optimal water intake and boost your cognition!

3. Drinking enough liquid decreases the water retention.

This seems to be a bit counter-intuitive, but drinking enough actually makes you less bloated and causes your body to hold less water. The main reason is that your body is unbelievably adaptable. So if you do not drink enough, your body retains the existing water to be reused. This is basically its way of adapting to this inconvenient situation. Moreover, if you do not drink enough, process of conversion of fat into energy in your liver (lipolysis) is hampered, as water is important constituent of this process and therefore process of fat burning is hampered.

4. Optimal fluid intake helps you to achieve or keep the optimal bodyweight.

Good news for all dieters! Drinking plenty of water can help you lose weight. This is caused mainly by two effects - it both increases satiety and metabolic rate[5][6], especially if you drink water approximately 30 min. prior to your meal.

5. Increased water consumption may lead to increase in blood pressure.

Have you ever experienced slight dizziness, fainting, blurred vision, nausea or general weakness (I mean, without any previous alcohol consumption)? All these are symptoms of low blood pressure and they do not really improve your well-being. Fortunately, research[7] tells us that positive effect of water on blood pressure occurs within 15-20 minutes of water consumption and lasts for up to 60 minutes[8]. So next time when you will think about having your sixth coffee on a given day to keep yourself up, consider just glass of plain water - it is as simple as that.

6. Adequate water intake facilitates proper kidney function.

Kidney is crucial in regulating water balance and blood pressure as well as removing waste from the body. Increased water intake is associated with inhibition of release of Antidiuretic Hormone - this both decreases water retention and decreases risk of urolithiasis (kidney stones and urinary stones).

7. Ingesting enough water improves your digestion and avoids constipation.

Optimal water consumption increases the rate of gastric emptying and help with proper absorption of the nutrients. On the other hand, not drinking enough is risk factor for constipation[9]. Also, in case of diarrheal diseases, significant water losses can occur through the gastrointestinal tract, so proper hydration is even more important in such unfortunate cases[10].

8. Keeping yourself hydrated can improve condition of your skin.

This point is a bit controversial. Water intake, particularly in individuals with low initial water intake, can improve skin thickness and density and offsets trans-epidermal water loss, and can improve skin hydration[10]. Although you cannot prevent wrinkles and other signs of aging (come on, would not the water be TOO perfect?), improved skin hydration is important in keeping your skin healthy and good-looking.

9. If you drink enough water, you can relieve you from headache.

This is another interesting point - water deprivation can lead to the development of headache[11], although the precise mechanisms are not yet known, it might have something to do with intracranial dehydration. In those with water deprivation-induced headache, ingestion of water provided relief from headache in most individuals within 30 min to 3 h[12]. So if you have issues with headache, instead of taking analgesics, you can simply consider having some water first and see if it helps.

10. Appropriate water intake may reduce risks of chronic diseases.

In general, chronic diseases have multifactorial origins. However, as mentioned before, there is strong evidence that good hydration decreases the risk of urolithiasis (urinary stones). Less strong evidence connects good hydration with reduced risk of constipation, exercise asthma and hyperglycemia in diabetic patients. Good hydration is associated with a reduction in urinary tract infections, hypertension, fatal coronary heart disease, venous thromboembolism, and cerebral infarct[10]... Well, this is a long list of diseases - water is really powerful!

So here are some of the less obvious reasons why staying well hydrated is important - all of them are backed by solid research. But even if you are motivated to drink more water now, you probably still ask yourself - how much exactly should I drink? Answer to your question is simple - combination of wellsCap and wellsApp provides customized solution to your water intake problems, so stay tuned!

REFERENCES:
[1] Murray, B. (2007). Hydration and Physical Performance. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 26(sup5), pp.542S-548S.
[2] Cian, C., Barraud, P., Melin, B. and Raphel, C. (2001). Effects of fluid ingestion on cognitive function after heat stress or exercise-induced dehydration. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 42(3), pp.243-251.
[3] D'ANCI, K., MAHONEY, C., VIBHAKAR, A., KANTER, J. and TAYLOR, H. (2009). VOLUNTARY DEHYDRATION AND COGNITIVE PERFORMANCE IN TRAINED COLLEGE ATHLETES 1,2. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 109(1), pp.251-269.
[4] Gopinathan, P., Pichan, G. and Sharma, V. (1988). Role of Dehydration in Heat Stress-Induced Variations in Mental Performance. Archives of Environmental Health: An International Journal, 43(1), pp.15-17.
[5] Boschmann, M., Steiniger, J., Hille, U., Frank, J., Adams, F., Sharma, A., Klaus, S., Luft, F. and Jordan, J. (2011). Water-Induced Thermogenesis: The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism: Vol 88, No 12. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. [online]
[6] Boschmann, M., Steiniger, J., Franke, G., Birkenfeld, A., Luft, F. and Jordan, J. (2009). Water Drinking Induces Thermogenesis through Osmosensitive Mechanisms: The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism: Vol 92, No 8. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. [online]
[7] McHugh, J., Keller, N., Appalsamy, M., Thomas, S., Raj, S., Diedrich, A., Biaggioni, I., Jordan, J. and Robertson, D. (2010). Portal Osmopressor Mechanism Linked to Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid 4 and Blood Pressure Control. Hypertension, 55(6), pp.1438-1443.
[8] Callegaro, C., Moraes, R., Negrão, C., Trombetta, I., Rondon, M., Teixeira, M., Silva, S., Ferlin, E., Krieger, E. and Ribeiro, J. (2007). Acute water ingestion increases arterial blood pressure in hypertensive and normotensive subjects. J Hum Hypertens.
[9] Arnaud, M. (2003). Mild dehydration: a risk factor of constipation?. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 57, pp.S88-S95.
[10] Popkin, B., D'Anci, K. and Rosenberg, I. (2010). Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition Reviews, 68(8), pp.439-458.
[11] Shirreffs, S., Merson, S., Fraser, S. and Archer, D. (2004). The effects of fluid restriction on hydration status and subjective feelings in man. BJN, 91(06), p.951.
[12] Blau, J., Kell, C. and Sperling, J. (2004). Water-Deprivation Headache: A New Headache With Two Variants. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 44(1), pp.79-83.


Reflections on CISCO Switch-Up Challenge

Do you drink enough?

If you never thought about this question, your answer would probably be negative (To clarify, we are talking only about water and similar non-alcoholic liquids here!). However, even if you answer were positive, my other question would be: How do you know? If you are thirsty, it is already too late - it means that your water intake was already too low. So how much should you then drink? This were the questions that I started to ask to myself. I realized that if I do not drink enough water during my workouts, I feel weaker. In addition, whenever I tried to do mentally challenging task in dehydrated state, I could not focus and I was surrounded by mental fog.

How it started

Since October, I have been studying MEng Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College London. The education I was acquiring encouraged me to look deeper into the problem of water consumption. And it was in the end of October when Martin, first year student of MEng Electronic and Information Engineering at Imperial, contacted me and Daniel, first year MEng Computing student, with idea of working together on this problem. We decided to build a device that could measure how much water one drunk. In addition to that, we also decided to create a smartphone app that would be able to communicate with the device wirelessly, store data, and determine how much one should drink depending on his physiological properties, compare the data with calculated value, and, if he doesn’t drink enough, send out a notification about it. Also, we decided to enable easy extraction of data from the app, so that it can be further analyzed, either by users or by doctors. There were very good reasons why we decided to implement this idea. Not only I suffered from decrease in performance due to dehydration, but also Martin takes medication that requires him to stay hydrated. And most importantly, we were aware that such device and application could improve lives of many people, ranging from medical patients to elite athletes, and this is exactly something that engineers (and especially bioengineers) should aim for. Our project received name wells, which was inferred from an abbreviation of word “wellness”. Having an idea is a good start, but its implementation is much more difficult. We decided to distribute the work. My task was to deal with biomedical aspect of the project and to create the theoretical model that would enable us to determine the ideal water intake. Daniel took care about the development of the smartphone app, and Martin’s role was to create the real prototype of the device and enable its wireless communication with the app. We believed that our previous experiences allowed us to cope with these tasks effectively: Martin has been working with electronics and hardware since his early childhood and he achieved gold medal at I-SWEEEP 2014 for work on his previous project of recuperative air pump. Daniel has been programming for very long time and he received 3rd place at INTEL ISEF for the work done on his project dealing with computer vision. And I participated in multiple International Olympiads on Physics, Astronomy and Astrophysics that taught me to devise the theoretical model and apply it on real-world scenario.

Entering the Cisco Switch-Up Challenge

As we started to work on the project, Martin suggested signing up for CISCO Switch-Up Challenge, a competition organized by CISCO that required students to elaborate the idea of use of Internet of Everything. The Internet of Everything is connection of people, processes, data, and gadgets using internet and represents new revolution in the technologies. And it was exactly something that we were pursuing through our project! We did not hesitate for a second and we decided to submit our entry. The entry to the competition consisted of description of our idea, plans for practical implementation, and our business layout. In addition to that, we submitted sketches of our device design, and my meta-analysis of influence of water consumption on one’s health and performance and equations used to calculate the recommended daily water intake. Because of our persistent hard work, we were able to submit our entry a week before the official deadline. We constantly developed the design of our device, even after the submission of our entry. We therefore decided to tweak our idea a bit and instead of combination of bottle and cap, we created only a bottle cap - wellsCap, as our core product. The wellsCap contains everything that is required for measurement of the water intake. However, it is 2-5 times cheaper than the bottle and it can fit to any standard bottle that you can buy in the supermarket! Furthermore, our business plan includes free accessibility of the wellsApp, so that customers can download it free of charge and use it for calculation of their recommended daily water intake and for manually add data about their water consumption. Martin created a prototype of the wellsCap and Daniel worked on the software for the application. Furthermore, Martin communicated with Dialog Semiconductors and they decided to supply us with their cutting edge hardware. Also, we contacted a lawyer who started to prepare patent application for the wells.

Interview

Encouraged by the fast progression, we started working on more thorough market analysis and business development of our project, when we obtained a call from CISCO inviting us to have a phone interview about our project. We quickly became engaged into discussion and when we were finishing the interview, we did not have a bad feeling, though we had to explain why we decided to change our initial idea of smart bottle into idea of wellsCap. And it was nine days later, when we got a message from CISCO confirming that we actually made it! We decided to try to push ourselves even a bit further. I sank into a papers and created a more sophisticated equations for calculation of recommended daily water intake. Daniel finished the coding of the wellsApp, and Martin was finalizing the communication between the application and the cap. Simultaneously, all of us were working hard on our market research, business development plan and presentation for Cisco Switch-Up Challenge Final.

The Final

On 11 February, the day D came. In presentation, I outlined the problem of insufficient water intake we had decided to tackle and our business development plan, Martin demonstrated the functions of our wellsCap prototype and market analysis, and Daniel introduced wellsApp to the jury members. Although we had no idea of what we should expect, we secretly hoped that the jury liked our idea, practical demonstration of wellsCap and wellsApp, and clear plan for business implementation. I heard one short word, wells. I could not believe it until I had a medal hanging around my neck and a plaque for the winner of the CISCO Switch-Up Challenge. As a recognition of our hard work, we won a trip to the CISCO headquarters in San José, where we will be able to present the wells to the management of CISCO. Also, our team was joined by Filip Stollar (Computing, Imperial College London) who is working on graphical design and Alzbeta Dlha (IT for Bussiness & Management, University College London) who is dealing with PR & Marketing - we are getting stronger and ready for big things! To conclude, CISCO Switch-Up Challenge gave us an excellent opportunity to develop the wells and motivated us to work harder on our project, required us to meet tight deadlines, and to co-operate effectively. Furthermore, we received a lot of great ideas and advices regarding further development of wells from CISCO employees and executives that we will try to implement in the near future. Finally, we also received a great boost for our future employability. Therefore if you are reading this article as an undergraduate student with an idea that you would like to pursue, you should definitely enter the Cisco Switch-Up Challenge next year! P. S. Do you want to learn more about wells and stay updated with news? Visit our new webpage www.wells.sk, which provides much more information about the idea of wells!

We would like to thank to CISCO, for organizing Cisco Switch-Up Challenge, to its executives and employees who gave us invaluable advices and made our day at CISCO in Feltham unforgettable. We would also like to thank to Dialog Semiconductors for its hardware support, and thank to everyone who supported us in any manner.


WHAT’S UP, WELLS?

Although it has only been a few months since we have founded wells and started developing the wellsCap, we were pleased by the interest it raised among those who were introduced to our idea!

Patent application submitted!

After our victory in British national competition CISCO Switch-Up Challenge (you can read about it here), we have moved towards practical implementation of our idea. Probably the most exciting news we have is that patent application for registration of our system of water measurement was submitted to the patent office in Slovakia a few days ago. It means that our intellectual property is protected; therefore, wells is the only provider of the unique liquid flow measuring system.

Grow Your Future! competition

Thanks to Betka’s initiative, we also participated in the competition of start-up ideas Grow Your Future! organized by HSBC on 1st April. wells and four other projects were selected from about 150 entries across British universities to participate in the final round of the competition, where Martin and Miroslav presented our idea. Although we did not win this competition, according to the words of jury, we came in second - and difference was really small. This amazing result motivated and encouraged us to push even harder. And let’s be honest - spending a day in the HSBC headquarters is not a typical day-to-day experience. We also received a lot of interesting suggestions about possible development of the wells from the jury members and we will definitely be looking at some of them. You can be sure that we will keep you updated!

Cooperation with Droppie

We now plan to focus on finalization of the wellsApp that should provide extensive water tracking environment for the users. To make the wellsApp as perfect as possible, we are happy to announce the cooperation with a Slovak company Droppie that focuses on the development of the smartphone apps. We believe that this cooperation will enable us to make the wellsApp absolutely impeccable. Again, you will hear more from us!

What about the near future?

A lot has been done recently, but you would be wrong if you thought that we plan to stop. We started preparing for the start-up competition in Paris in the end of June. We were invited there after our victory in CISCO, so have fingers crossed for us!