Octo’s 2023 Interns Develop Lifesaving Solution Powered by AI

Imagine a solution that could detect the faintest sign of life beneath rubble.

Imagine a solution that could tell soldiers or law enforcement where a gunshot came from.

Imagine a solution that could save lives and safely bring more first responders and troops home.

EchoNet is that solution, one that can access data from unpredictable, dangerous spaces through the power of sound-based AI and machine learning (ML).

EchoNet is the solution this year’s Octo interns developed.

What is EchoNet? 

EchoNet is an AI and ML solution that draws on an acoustic detection capability. AI algorithms process sound to trigger a robotic unit to take an appropriate and actionable response in a given situation. This technology can be used for finding buried victims during earthquakes, locating underwater sub-implosion locations, detecting and mitigating shots in combat situations, and more.

The solution was first conceived during Octo’s annual Hackathon last year. The Hackathon, a cultural differentiator at Octo, allows employees to solve real business and customer problems by devising “hacks” that fit real use cases. Octo technologists Aaron Festinger and Mike Bauer envisioned a solution that used acoustic AI to locate the source of sound. The duo submitted to the panel of judges a proof of concept that won first place. This year’s interns took EchoNet further, creating a workable product with demos, complete with automated drone launch and response, for existing and potential customers.

Darryl Dortch, Octo’s System Design Technical Director who led the 2023 intern teams with Senior Technology Director Cesar Tavares, said,” We had 30 students and recent grads this year from myriad colleges and universities — our biggest, most diverse group of interns yet. And perhaps our biggest challenge.”

Organized into five teams, the interns developed EchoNet using AI and emerging technologies afforded by oLabs™, Octo’s R&D hub at Octo’s headquarters in Reston, Virginia.

Throughout the development process, the teams practiced Agile DevSecOps, experimentation, collaboration, communication, and teamwork.

“The learning experience and timelines were intense,” said Darryl. “The teams had less than three months to complete this project. It was no small ask. We wanted them to develop something that could actually be used, something lifesaving, a solution that Federal Government agencies, the DoD, law enforcement, and the Intelligence Community might get behind.”

Darryl added, “There is a $1 billion market for this kind of solution. The interns knew the stakes were high going into the project, and they met the challenge. They applied numerous technologies during the problem-solving process, including Red Hat, an IBM company.

“What these teams produced wasn’t an accident. EchoNet is an innovation, one the interns and Octo, asn IBM company, can be proud of.”