Undergraduate Inventor and App Developer Uses Computer Vision Technology in Designs

October 23, 2019

By Tracy Miller Geary

One look at the website of Northeastern junior Dean Diakov (Khoury ’22, computer science and business), and it’s clear he likes to keep busy. Currently studying computer science and business administration as combined majors in the university’s Honors Program, he has explored and found success in a variety of fields, including iOS development, user experience (UX) design, and machine vision.

Early inventions include The Dollybot, a robotic camera motion-and-tracking system made to help cinematographers create consistent shots. While it is still more of a concept than a full product, Diakov designed it because it is something he would personally use. “When you have that personal motivation,” he explains, “you end up with a much more refined and quality idea that comes from having a legitimate passion or understanding for the problem you’re looking to solve.”

Diakov is most excited about his foray into the world of application (“app”) development with an iOS app that allows the user to realistically clone themselves in photos. The app, called Clonr, is similar to The Dollybot in that it also uses computer vision technology. The app was released in June 2019, and in that short time “has amassed over 12,000 users from pure organic growth.”

Originally from Dana Point, CA, Diakov came to Northeastern because “the combined majors of computer science and finance caught my eye.” Once at Khoury College, Diakov credits his first object-oriented design course with teaching him a discipline in coding that he didn’t have before. “Creating full-on programs taught me confidence that I could write my own programs,” he says.

Other classes and professors have also had a strong impact on Diakov. “Professor Wolfgang Gatterbauer, who taught my class on databases last semester, genuinely cared about the things he was telling us,” Diakov mentions. “I enjoyed his anecdotes that connected the content from the class to real life.” Of marketing professor Duane Lefevre, Diakov says, “Many ideas from that class, along with the knowledge various speakers shared, still resonate with me.”

Diakov recently finished his first co-op, working since January 2019 for an undisclosed software company in California where his responsibilities included evaluating, comparing, and training machine vision models for real time image analysis. “The biggest part about doing a co-op is that you’re in the real world,” he stresses. “You have to create your future and do what you can with each experience. They offer a bigger perceptive on what the future will be like.”

After being away from Boston for eight months, Diakov is “super excited to be back in the city and back at Northeastern.” He continues, “There’s a certain energy you get walking around campus where everyone just seems very focused and up to something, which in turn I feel pushes me to perform at my very best.”

He participated in Hack MIT in September, where along with his friend and fellow Khoury College student Hugh Ferguson, Diakov prototyped a machine vision solution that would help disaster relief camps help keep track of their inventory in a low bandwidth environment. “We also recently got accepted to both Hack Harvard and Yale Hacks in October, and we’re super excited about putting together some really cool projects for both of those,” he says.

For his next co-op experience, he is headed to the Bay Area to work at the quickly growing mobile eSports firm Skillz. “I would say that the rapid growth will place me in a high-pace working environment with constant challenges and opportunities to learn,” he says.

In the future, Diakov will focus on “the promising field of machine learning. So much is happening in the realm of ML and artificial intelligence right now.”

As to his work on Clonr, it has definitely given Diakov a taste for app development. “I would absolutely love to do more apps!” he says. “I want to do as many things as possible.”