Podcast: Overcoming Challenges of Entrepreneurship with Dr. Sanjay Patel

The following is a conversation between Dr. Peter Ondish and Dr. Sanjay Patel, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and a founder of several start-up companies. In this episode, we discuss entrepreneurship and the challenges that come with trying to bridge the gap between research and marketable products with high real-world impact.

In this episode, Sanjay tells the story of how he and his fellow colleagues at the university founded Personify, a company specializing in artificial visual background technology. 

Additionally, this episode dives into how the Rokwire platform was developed and how it integrates old data systems to enable user-friendly, modern mobile apps. 

“It’s very expensive to develop an app. If your [data or information] infrastructure has pieces that are 20, 30, 40 years old . . . then it’s even more expensive. You have to take that data that is stored in some old system in some corner of campus and pull that data out, convert that data in a form that the app wants to use, and then present it in a way that the user feels is a modern way of presenting that. To pull all that together requires aggregating data from these old data stores in a way that’s responsive to the user, to the mobile app. To do that takes time, effort, and integration to these legacy systems. That’s what Rokwire does, to make that very easy, very modern. It integrates these legacy systems.”

Sanjay explores how University‚Äôs Rokwire platform, on which the Safer Illinois App was created, handles data privacy, security, and information sharing. 

He describes how Rokwire COVID apps keep a user’s data private and confined to their device. 

“Let’s say you get tested and there is a result, positive or negative. That determination comes from a lab and gets encrypted and stored on your device. No one else has seen that result. The result is not stored anywhere. Any decisions that have to be made are only made with your device involved. Your test status was never decrypted, except on your device.”

The conversation dissects how the Rokwire platforms and other digital platforms respect ethical boundaries regarding privacy in this age of digital media.

This episode is part of the CSBS Podcast series, created by the Center for Social and Behavioral Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.