Category: Archive

Young inventor nets top award

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

His souped up browser at least quadruples surfing speeds on the Internet and transforms surfing the web.
Adnan Osmani, 16, a sixth-year student at St. Finian’s College in Mullingar, spent 18 months writing 780,000 lines of computer code to develop the browser.
Known as “XWEBS,” the software system works with an ordinary Internet connection using a 56K modem on a normal telephone line.
Hailed by the judges for his outstanding imagination, Adnan patented his software to protect his rights only a day before he won the award.
“Five or six companies have approached me about it. I am keeping a lid on it for the time being,” Adnan said. “I am just waiting until after the exhibition and then I will try to get it all organized.”
He had not expected to win and had only told three of his teachers about his competition entry days before he won.
“I thought I might get a good place,” he said.
Adnan, who was prompted to experiment with revving up his system because of the tedium of waiting for pages to download, wants to study computer engineering at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., and eventually set up his own Internet or computer company.
“Winning is a nice boost to my university application,” he said.
The software was tested by scientists at UCD and they found it boosted surfing speeds by between 100 and 500 percent, depending on the basic dial-up connection rate. Adnan says a six-fold increase is about the maximum practical boost.
“At seven times it actually crashes, so I have limited it to six,” he said.
He had to explain at length how his browser works to 12 judges who examined his project.
“There are 48 judges altogether and this is the first ever that a project has been unanimously judged the winner by every single judge,” Adnan said.
Other special aspects of his browser are the fact that 120 Internet search engines and music and DVD players are built in as sidebars.
“It has got every single media player built in,” the young inventor said. “It is the first Internet browser in the world to actually incorporate a DVD sidebar. So you can watch a DVD movie in whatever screen size you want and browse the Internet at the same time.”
To make the software more user friendly, it features a talking animated figure called “Phoebe.”
“The character interacts the entire way through the software,” Adnan said. “It can also read out webpages and e-mail and I thought it would be really useful for the blind and young children because they can’t really experience the Internet.
“Someone like parents or guardians can load up some webpages and it can read out the pages to them.”
The son of a medical consultant at Mullingar Hospital, Adnan has attended St. Finian’s since 1998.
A delighted principal of the college, Father Paul Connell, said Adnan had done the development work on the browser himself.
“We gave him good training in maths and other disciplines, but we can’t take credit for the actual project, because he did it entirely on his own,” Connell said.
“We have a very good computer teacher and computer room here but most of the work that is done by these young lads is done by themselves. Young people seem to have fantastic ability with computers.”
Adnan received a trophy from Education Minister Noel Dempsey and a check for euro 3,000 from sponsors Esat BT. He will represent Ireland at the EU Contest for Young Scientists in Budapest in September.

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