Google, Yahoo and General Electric look for tech breakthroughs at Cornell

The BOOM competition at Cornell is a little like a science fair from high school except instead of a baking soda volcanoes, Cornell students demonstrated their own personal robot that can interact, roam the campus and pack boxes.

"It can move up and down, it can move left and right, it has all the sensors humans have except skin. it doesn't have skin," said Paul Yang who helped build the robot.

BOOM stands for "Bits on our Mind." It's a competition and a chance for Ivy League students to show off their research projects. Featured projects this year everything from a device that can identify any musical note to an underwater submarine that can navigate on its own and use a camera to track moving targets

"These robots are able to kind of do a variety of different tasks, help do things people really aren't able to," said Cornell student Michael Kaplan.

Google, Cisco, GE and other major tech companies each gave out awards for the projects they liked best. The people's choice award went to three students who made a piece of paper on a pizza box into a piano. A camera recognizes the finger positions on the paper and turns them into music.

The next big thing in tech often starts as a small project. Jeremy Blum and three of his friends from Cornell hope they have it with a device that would allow hotel guests to use an e-mail on their phone as a room key.

"We're Cornellians. We don't pursue anything unless we think it could change the world," said Blum with a laugh.

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