Palanpuri boy reinvents the humble watch

Friday, 6 September 2013 - 11:32am IST | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA
Pranav Mistry unveils Samsung Galaxy Gear a product developed by his Think Tank Team.

With the introduction of Galaxy Gear smartwatch in Berlin, Samsung has pipped Apple Inc in the race towards launching a smartphone around your wrists.

And the unveiling event had a distinct Gujarati flavour as it was Pranav Mistry (31), a native of Palanpur, who showcased the impossibly futuristic watch to the world. Mistry is head of Think Tank Team, Samsung Research America, who have conceptualised and designed the ‘digital’ watch that lets you check messages with a glance or make conversation 007 style.

“With Gear, you’re able to make calls and receive calls without even taking your phone out of your pocket,” said Pranav Mistry in his heavily accented english, which drew an uncalled-for debate on social networking websites all of Thursday. The positive persona that he exuded onstage suggested that he is very comfortable speaking the way he learnt at Palanpur.

A humble, intelligent start
“When he was about 11, he (Pranav) used to say, ‘main bada hokar bahut naam kamaunga’ (When I grow up, I’ll earn a lot of fame),” said his father Kirti, in a telephonic conversation with dna.

“We never knew it will be so soon.”

Pranav was like any other child, said Mistry senior, but his IQ powered him to the 1st rank in every academic year he spent at Vividhlakshi Vidyamandir, Palanpur. “He was good in every activity  be it studies, music (he sings) or sports (plays badminton),” said a proud father.

He studied in his mother tongue, Gujarati, and later joined Nirma University, Ahmedabad for his BE in computer engineering. He went on to complete his post-graduation (industrial design) from IIT-Bombay, which earned him a job with Microsoft in Hyderabad and a president’s award from APJ Abdul Kalam.

Scientist among traders
Mistry is also unique in how he turned out to be a scientist from a town known worldover for its diamond traders. “We never cared about money. Knowledge was our wealth,” said Kirti, an architect himself.

“Ours is a family of reason; we knew what he was capable of and patronised it.” Kirti never thought of moving to Mumbai for his son’s studies and better exposure. Palanpur was always good enough to shine on this diamond.

Galloping towards stardom
The prospects of a PhD in Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) took him to the US and thus began his quest of creating technological history. Mistry, a busy scientist, is best known for his work on SixthSense, inventing Mouseless (an invisible computer mouse), SPARSH (a copy-paste marvel) and a pen that draws in 3D.

SixthSense won Mistry the 2009 Invention Award by Popular Science. He was also named to the MIT Technology Review TR35 as one of the top 35 innovators in the world under the age of 35, and has also been called “one of ten, best inventors in the world right now”. Mistry has been listed as one of the 15 Asian Scientists To Watch and as one of the most powerful digital Indians.

His current list of research topics is proof, but Mistry has always made time for his family which now lives in Ahmedabad. “He was here last year and even we are often in the US for at least 2-3 months a year,” said his father. Pranav is married to a Chinese girl, a fashion designer, who dabbles in marketing branded clothes in China.

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