As I stroll through the grounds of CEPT university in Ahmedabad, I see various tech geniuses and artists displaying their creation to awe-struck attendees at Maker Fest 2016. Next thing, I find myself drawn to this relatively young boy who is explaining his work to a crowd surrounding him.
Saksham is 16 and a student of class 10th.
“I began working on this device when I was 13”, he said pointing to a pair of gloves designed by Saksham and his team, which allow a blind person in navigating without external help.
Saksham began working on his first product prototype after he was asked by his school teacher to make something that could be put to display at CBSE exhibition.
“I was searching for an idea and that was around the time when I visited Blind People’s Association in Ahmedabad. I saw residents use ultrasound canes that sent them an alert by a beep, every time they were close to any obstacle. This fascinated me”
However, the young Saksham soon realized that the device could be made better.
“I researched on it and realized possible improvisations that could be made to make the device more efficient. My prototype was ready soon and I displayed it at the exhibition. However, it was rejected for its heavy design”
The rejection only made Saksham more intrigued to make something that could be actually used by the end customer – a blind individual.
“I collaborated with Aditya, my senior, who shared the same passion and interest for technology. We assembled a team for the project and began testing our prototypes. Aditya would criticize and suggest modifications and I would build”
Saksham’s parents did have some reservations on his time consumption for the project, but they were quite supportive.
Aditya changed schools in 2014, but stayed in touch and the duo maintained working on the project. They came up with the idea of creating the product in the form of a glove for the blind to wear and use easily.
“Aditya suggested that we should include required functions into the product yet keep it lean, in order to best satisfy the user. He was the key to developing some of the major features of the glove and the belt as well”, Saksham adds.
“To be honest, I have always been a tech-addict. I always wished for everyone to have an access to technology, blind people being no exceptions. That’s what drove me towards Saksham’s idea.”, says Aditya.
Together, the friends participated in a competition at IIT Gandhinagar and won the 2nd prize and some useful suggestions to improve their product’s design. Vansh Agarwal, a fellow classmate, helped them get material for the project. He coined the name ‘The Knight Glove’.
“You see, knights were, in a way, the ones who protected and helped other folks. And so does our product. That’s how I came up with the name.”, says Vansh, smiling.
The Knight Glove comprises of 5 vibrators, an infrared sensor, a Bluetooth module and an Arduino Board. The team was helped by Anshu Nagpal, a creative designer and a dear friend.
“The functioning of the product is brilliant without a doubt, however I wasn’t really convinced of the visual appearance. The team approached me and I am glad I could do whatever I could”, says Anshu.
The most important function of the glove is that it allows that user to text using a cell phone, a rare privilege for the blind.
“We wrote a code which we plan to open-source and created an app that converts normal letters into Braille”, Saksham adds.
The team is currently working on making the product cost-effective in bulk manufacturing so that it is accessible for everyone in need.
Did someone hear ‘Start Young’? 🙂
A story by Komal Bansal and Azure Dave.