Identiteye tech
Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council; David Dunn, chief executive of Sunderland Software City and Dr Selvakumar Ramachandran.
Rebecca Wayman

Indian entrepreneur launches new 'trailblazing' tech with Sunderland Software Centre

An entrepreneur, who has overcome adversity to achieve academic success, has launched his own business out of Sunderland Software Centre.

Born and raised in Tamil Nadu, Dr Selvakumar Ramachandran - or Selva - has founded Sunderland-based business, Kerckhoffs Ltd, that has produced a product, Identiteye, set to keep some of society’s most vulnerable safe.

Owed to a disability caused by contracting Polio as an infant, and with no wheelchairs in India to help him move freely, the 38-year-old achieved a Masters degree in software engineering from Blekinge Tekniska Hogskola in Sweden, then a PhD in information science from the University of Rome Tor Vergata.

He has now developed Identiteye, which aims to use a specially fabricated, discreet ‘chip’, installed on the doorstep of vulnerable people, to ‘screen’ people at their door to ensure they are ‘official’ and legitimate.

“There are 17,000 crimes on UK doorsteps every year. That’s bogus officers and people claiming to be someone they’re not - persons who target vulnerable, often older people.

“How can we live in a world full of technology and not use it to address this problem?”

Selva also added: “With Identiteye, an individual will have a device in their home and when someone - say, from a social care team - visits, they will scan the chip at the door, which will in turn alert the person living there that someone is at the door and will also provide information on who that person is, confirming their authenticity.

“My ambition is to test the technology in Sunderland first. I live here, and I want to help support the city, as well as hopefully creating a growing business and lots of jobs here.”

Sunderland has been able to support Selva, and develop his concept into an alpha system that will soon be ready for testing. 

He continued: “I have had so much support. I am going to be working with the University of Sunderland’s FabLab, to develop a prototype ‘chip’ that is, effectively a QR code that a smart phone can recognise…

“I have had incredible support from Sunderland Software City. I was keen to move into the council-run Sunderland Software Centre to continue to work with a number of great support organisations in the centre.”

Selva hopes to develop the product further, working with students from the University of Sunderland to refine the technology once it is tested.

“Hopefully, if I can commercialise it, money means jobs and I can support the economy here. Sunderland has given me life and I want to give something back.”

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, concluded: “Selva’s story is a fantastic example of how much can be achieved through determination and hard work.

“Not only has he managed to overcome the challenges that have come with his disability, but he has also been able to use it to develop a business which could help so many other people who are vulnerable or disadvantaged.”

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