Student-run website aims to change presentations
Published: Sunday, September 23, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Six UB students are trying to change the way faculty and students present PowerPoint presentations through a new website.
Presvo, a new presentation tool designed by second-year graduate students Manoj Chandrasekran, Dinesh Ravi, Micheal Benedict, Sean Zawicki, Magizharasu Thirunavukkarasu and Vishwa Srikanth.
Inspiration for the program came from the widely used Prezi system, which is used and taught to professors at UB currently. The team has created a program that can run on PC and Apple products, including Droids, iPads and iPhones. The program doesn’t require Adobe Flash Player to view the presentations, which allows viewing on any device.
Presvo was created at the UB Hackathon, held during the end of the Spring 2012 semester. Sponsors of the first-ever event included companies such as GitHub, SendGrid, Twilio, Synacor and Iror.
The six students won the 24-hour event, which granted them a year of free server space, among other things, which totaled at a value of $24,000.
The site has changed from the original prototype made on the day of the Hackathon, but Presvo has always been set apart from Prezi. Benedict believes the ease of use and free service sets Presvo apart from other presentation tools.
“[Presvo] doesn’t need any special software to run,” Benedict said. “At the end of the day, it can run through a browser. If you view a Prezi on an Apple device like an iPad or an iPhone, you [won’t be able to access it] unless you have the app for [Prezi]. In our case, our main goal was to simplify creating presentations and sharing [them].”
The group launched the new and updated product last month and currently has a couple hundred users registered for the website. They’ve currently closed registration to work out problems still popping up.
The home screen is a simple white layout, which opens up to a layout that can upload pictures from a URL, a file on a computer or different colors and fonts for each slide. The slides automatically save every 10 seconds.
“It’s a combination of execution along with ideas,” Ravi said. “We’ve churned out quite a few things from how it started. Currently it’s looking totally different from how it was on Hackathon night, and that is to suit certain other requirements which include the use of experience, apart from its functionalities.”
The goal of the site is to make presentation preparation and sharing easier for both the user and audience.
Presvo is also an interactive tool for classes. Students viewing a presentation on Presvo have the ability to add questions to the link provided and a new slide is made at the end of the presentation to be viewed and shared with the entire class.
“The ideas like sharing should be really simple whether it be on social network, like Facebook, Twitter, et cetera,” Benedict said. “Just put that one link out and boom, it’s just there. It could be there in your website, it could be there on your blogs, it could be there in your Twitter stream – that’s kind of our goal. We don’t want any special software.”
The group is looking to update the UB education process and test out the product on the university before sending it out to other companies and schools. It is currently asking for feedback from the students to try and change whatever problems currently exist.
“We want students at UB to use it, and the whole idea is that we want as much feedback as possible, about the product ideas and whoever wants to contribute ideas to us in many ways,” Benedict said. “Hey, if you’re a hacker and you want to sit down with us and show us some things – great.”
Shounak Gore, a fourth-year computer science Ph.D. student, thinks that Presvo’s ability to have different layouts and easy sharing makes it a valuable presentation tool.
“I myself have a MacBook and I use [Presvo] pretty comfortably because it’s directly online and I don’t have to worry about the technology,” Gore said. “I can use it on a Mac, and I can use it on a Windows [computer].”