Youngster at the threshold of digital renaissance

Staff Reporter –

A former Auckland student has the potential of becoming a ‘global phenomenon’ as she ushers in ‘Digital Renaissance’ with the launch of her start-up in the Silicon Valley next month.

Priyanka (also known as Priya) Shekar, an alumni of the University of Auckland, and Stanford University, is the Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer of the new venture which will debut at the ‘StartX’s Demo Day’ of Stanford on September 22, 2015.

The start-up was recently accepted into Stanford University’s StartX venture accelerator, which is a major development in the start-up process.

Synergy, Symphony

It would be a day of pride for her parents Dr Aruna Shekar and Arcot Somashekar (respectively of Massey University and University of Auckland) and a host of friends and well-wishers as Priyanka embarks on a new venture that would create new synergy and symphony in an increasingly digitalised world.

Priyanka has a passion for building ‘consumer-facing media products’ bringing into focus her skills in product design (visual, audio, interaction, UI/UX), product development, multimedia, software development, mobile, entrepreneurship and human subjects research.

Born in Chennai and raised and educated in New Zealand, she had shown her proclivities towards innovation and technology since her formative years. She won several awards during her scholastic career at Westlake Girls High School and University of Auckland, where she earned her Bachelor of Engineering and Electronics degree.

Stanford Scholarship

She received the prestigious Stanford Arts Institute-Denning Family Fellowship in Fine Arts, awarded in recognition of her interdisciplinary interest and creative promise. The Scholarship enabled her to graduate with a Master’s from the Stanford University’s Centre for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) in June 2014.

The opportunity that she had to work with world-class leaders in music creation motivated her to develop her expertise at the ‘Intersection of Computing and Liberal Arts,’ an expression of Apple Founder Steve Jobs.

Following her graduation from the Stanford University, Priyanka established ‘Grüv Music’ with two other Co-Founders.

“It was an exciting experience since combining music and engineering enables the design of unique innovations that are at the leading edge in this new field,” she said.

Gender Equality

Even in America, the land of a million dream, women engineers are a rare sight and hence it was no surprise that Priyanka supported change as a Leader at the Stanford campus, an engagement that now helps her in the role of an Alumni Mentor.

She participates in events such as ‘Y Combinator’s Female Founder Conference’ and represents women engineers.

Varying interests

Regarded as an expert in this niche area, Priyanka presented her research at the Music Technology Conference held in Seoul, Korea in August 2014. She is extending the study and has submitted it to the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, which is currently reviewing her Paper.

Her interests include social music, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), creative collaboration, start-ups, and blue sky thinking. Her project in physical interaction design, ‘Dough-Re-Mi,’ is an electronic instrument toy that manipulates vocals under play dough controller handwork. It was showcased in 2013 at Maker Faire Bay Area and Pop-up Magazine (Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco).

She was involved in the Stanford Graduate School of Business Ignite Programme in June 2013, at which her venture idea for a 3D binaural headset that captures everyday soundscapes was chosen and developed for commercialisation.

Innovative spirit

Additionally, she was a Product Intern at ‘Shazam,’ a mobile application that recognises music and TV around a person. This involvement generated concepts for in-app notifications, as well as helped in her research on chroma fingerprints as a perceptual alternative for audio recognition in large-scale databases.

Priyanka presented her work on the effects of musical training and stimulus timbre on singing reproduction at the International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition in Seoul last year. She supports like minded women in advancing technology.

Photo :

Priyanka Shekar

Photo credit: Long Nguyen Photography

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