If I had a rupee for every time I have suffered bladder pains because of not being able to use a public toilet, I would have been able to afford my own minivan with a loo in it.
If I had a rupee for every time I have suffered bladder pains because of not being able to use a public toilet, I would have been able to afford my own minivan with a loo in it.
Indian scientist Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose was born 158 years ago, and became a world leader in telecommunications with innumerable achievements to his name.
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.
Abdul is 28, and comes from Deoria village in Uttar Pradesh.
My father was a junior teacher and was usually disappointed with me as a child as I would never study. Both my parents had practically given up on me. Somehow, I cleared 12th.
If not studying, what would Abdul do in his free time?
Machines. I was always fascinated by machines. I would play with motors and wires. When I was a child, one day I was trying to dissect a motor and got an electric shock. But that never stopped me. Machines were my passion.
Abdul began creating innovative things since his childhood. Abdul recalls
When I was in class 7th, I started receiving a pocket-money of Rs. 2 per day. I saved from it for a month and brought a crystal bird that was sold outside my school. It would spread out its wings and glitter. That fascinated me and soon, I dissected the bird to understand how it worked.
This was around the festival of id, so Abdul decided to use his newly explored technology to make something different.
I used the mechanism of crystal bird and a motor. I attached an Id Mubarak banner to it. Everytime someone entered our home, the banner would open and greet everyone. I still have the bird with me.
After somehow completing his schooling, Abdul picked up Psychology with Sociology minors for graduation because someone told me it was easiest of all the subjects.
My parents didn’t even expect I would ever pass the college. They gave me a separate room because wherever I was, there would be clutter! It was great because I had a place to experiment with.
Soon, Abdul’s room had a fan that would switch on automatically when someone entered the room, lights that could be controlled by remote and of course a lot of clutter. This Humanities student’s innovations didn’t stop at this. Once after a theft in his neighbourhood, he created mobile door informer.
It took me 3 Nokia 3300 C to make it. It had a mechanism that would call the last dialled number in the owner’s phone as soon as the door of the house would open. It would also switch on the light.
In the last year of his college, Abdul invited one of his professors, Dr. Nazig Banu to his home. Initially hesitant, she accepted the invitation. One room at Abdul’s room, the professor knew where the chap had to directed.
She told me about National Innovation Organisation. Thanks to my habit of reading newspaper daily, I saw an advertisement by the same organisation in a corner of a page. I wrote to the correspondent and wrote to the organisation. As a screening process, engineers from the organisation came to my home and chose me for an award nomination.
Abdul was nominated for President’s award in 2009 and in 2014 for his grassroots innovations. One of the several devices he made was ‘Flowering pot watering system’ that would water plants automatically at regular intervals.
This system had a censor-controlled device that would automatically switch a motor on and off depending upon the moisture content in the pot. This would let people go on vacations without worrying about their plants. This remains special to me since I received an award for it from Mr. Abdul Kalam. Meeting him is something I will never forget.
Abdul had his name inscribed in India book records in 2011 for a short circuit alarm system.
I remember my first electric shock because the motor didn’t have proper wiring. This system can send an alert to the user if he or she inserts a faulty device into a power plug.
Abdul is currently working on several projects with National Innovation Organisation.
I’ve recently worked on an automatic-flood informer system, that notifies not just the government but also people living in susceptible area that could be hit by the flood. It uses GSM-based transmitting towers in any nearby river with sensors at different heights.
Abdul is building his own startup, Ecotronics Private Limited, which works which works on domestic solar lighting and on other agricultural technology and innovations. The startup is funded and mentored by G.K. Sinha.
My first meeting with G.K. Sinha was in Taj and he took me around in BMW. I told him that I am a simple man. He told me I’d have to get used to this.
Of several projects Abdul is tied up with, is a mobile weather prediction station for farmers in collaborative project. The technology works through cloud computing and automatic data updates. The idea is to help farmers take smarter decisions in the times when freak weather patterns have become a usual.
Farmers in India still follow traditional patterns where sowing is done in particular months because the weather is expected to behave a certain way. This system would help them track real-time weather patterns so that the farmers can change the way they farm. We are working on making it affordable for farmers from weak financial conditions.
Abdul’s latest stint is a Ground Water Sensor that notifies farmers when the ground water level goes below a certain point so that necessary steps can be taken to avoid the crop damage.
Whatever I work on, is essentially focused on solving problems of rural India since I come from that background and sort of understand it in & out. It is also the largest yet the most ignored segment of India.
More power to innovators like Abdul who are brewing the story of a better India 🙂
A story by Shruti Chaturvedi.
I walk into SIBM Pune’s entrepreneurship summit, charged with 100s of aspiring entrepreneurs, looking to find fuel to their ideas. I am introduced to Ashish Sharma, a 20 something, fine, young and confident man, beaming with his idea.
Ashish Sharma comes from a small hill station in Darjeeling.
“I did my schooling in Darjeeling before I moved to MIT – Pune. So far, life has been a complete roller coaster”, he says, coyly mentioning how he is currently also involved with someone he met at his college.
Ashish comes from a humble family background.
“My mother is a housewife and my father is engaged in our traditional family business of wool manufacturing in Darjeeling. He is slso equipped in a side business I have a twin brother who he is currently placed in Pune too“, he says.
Of course, making it to MIT-Pune, one of the very reputed technology institute was an achievement in itself.
“I was delighted when I secured an admission in MIT. I fell in love with technology since a very young age and I was sure being here would only facilitate me in making something that could make human lives even better”, he says.
However not everything goes as planned. By the time Ashish reached third year of his engineering, he realized it wasn’t really helping him do what he wanted to.
“I always wanted to be a part of a system which would facilitate my growth. But being in MIT for two years, didn’t help at all. The education process came out to be a total failure for my dreams. I used to even discuss this with my professors, all in vain. I realized how this simply holding me back! “
Hence, after a lot of contemplation, Ashish finally took the dreaded step of dropping out. This was around end of 2012. Letting parents knows about the decision wasn’t an option.
“I stopped going to college in my 3rd year and never appeared for my finals. There was nothing for me at MIT, no push, no motivation!”
Letting parents knows about the decision wasn’t an option.
“Like any other Indian family who wants their son to be well educated, well placed and well settled, my family was no different.”
Interestingly, Ashish broke the news in public. He invited his parents at one of the seminars he was conducting and when the host asked him about his BTech plans, he broke the news.
Here, you can safely say assume, Ashish beer hai.
A passionate maker, Ashish was always creating something or the other. And all of them had a common pattern – they were a fine tuned combination of art and technology.
“I was very active in practical learning. I used to conduct workshops based on entrepreneurship and hardware technology, specifically on microprocessor Arduino. To be honest, often workshops ended up being more of a motivational lecture than the educational one”, he grins.
But wait! Who allowed him to conduct workshops without even being a graduate? And for that matter, an entrepreneur!
“After quitting engineering, I approached many places where he can conduct a workshop. It was really tough to beat without any qualification or experience. But I became a complete ‘chep’ during that time and would keep on meeting people asking for the opportunity. One chance and bam! I never stopped.”
It was a morning after ‘an eventful’ night.
“I had such bad hangover that couldn’t even get up and turn the fan off. That’s when I realized how I could use my knowledge that I had gathered so far to create something.”
This gave birth to Phynart. Though the idea of making such technology that can make human life comfortable came up out of the blue, the challenges to execute it was something this first-time-entrepreneur had no clue about.
“No one took me serious right from the bank employee, to mentors, the investors. Infact people were not even ready to come and work with us since it seem a big risk in digging their hands in a hardware based company. In India, major companies are just software.”
However, like they say, with every problem, comes a solution.
“Challenges could never hold me back. They just gave me a more intense kick every time. I knew I wanted to make my place, something am still striving for.”
Ashish shares a small video of his current office which is fully automated:
This crazy, young brain amusingly recalls how even opening a bank account was a task.
“This was the first time I was applying for a bank account. Ek toh clueless tha, dusra sab ignore aur marte the. I had to make innumerable visits to banks for an account without even being given a convincing reason! So one day, I walked straight to the manager’s cabin, pulled off an argument and that was the very first effort I had put to assert that I am important. Since then, there have been many such incidents. I think it is my age”, he points.
Remember ‘gunde nahi hai…entrepreneur hai b*******?’ 😉
Ashish has bootstrapped Phynart so far.
“I’ve worked in call centers and small companies to earn some money that I invest into Phynart. I also conduct workshops here and there to make some extra cash”, he says adding how he conducted 300 interviews till he could build a team of 7.
For a team to be successful, everything has to be clean, collaborative and coordinated, he mentions. Ashish and his 7 team members for whom he uses the term family include Mangesh – android developer, Prasann- the software designer, Ajit- hardware and R&D, Vishwajeet and Ajinkya- both designers.
“We are also blessed by 2 mentors – Mr. Dilip Ittyerah, the Ex CTO of Zensar who helps us with business and product development and Mr. Vikram Mehmi, the Ex CEO of Idea Cellular, Birla Sunlife Insuarance and Suzlon Green Power who guides us in building up strategies as well as the financial model”
Team Phynart constantly works and re-works on creating smart products that are also aesthetically sound.
“We want our products to be good enough that anyone would love to place in their living room. The only catch is, this showpiece is your best friend – it will monitor your activities, learn your habits and listen to your commands. It will do everything it can to make your life easier”, he says.
Phynart has already received a huge support of 1500+ people with 1000s of people curious to join along with added 2285 members. For a company in its beta, the numbers are pretty convincing.
India, which ranks 24th in the world with only 0.6 IoT devices online per 100 inhabitants according to OECD in 2015.
The company has come up with a prototype of their product named U.F.O which can control and monitor various home appliances including lights, fans, curtains, air conditioner, led lights and presence sensor from anywhere in the world without any physical presence required. They have already invested 5 to 7 lacs for prototyping and are looking for their very first customers in the form of Beta-testers.
“Apart from exporting the majority of raw material from countries like Japan, China and US, the product is completely manufactured in India. The final launching of U.F.O will be in next couple of months and we are planning to hit the markets with 200 pieces at a tentative price of 25 to 30k each.”
The market research about current home automation devices in the market shows how complex designs take away the product’s charm.
“Our target customers are upper middle-class people from between 18-24 in age. Since this technology is very new for the people it will take some time to solidify its place in every household. In most families now-a-days, the decision made to invest into such technologies is often influenced by the teenagers who are therein well-acquainted by the usage of technology.”
Any final words for the readers?
“Be unique. Think differently. Do what you like. It is the time that we all give something back to the society which has served the very existence of us – right from the food grown by some farmer, to chair made by some person and clothes stitched by some other” he says, signing off.
A story by Komal Bansal.
Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, hosted one of its biggest science and technology fair recently. The India International Science Fair (IISF) commenced on 4th December and brought on board 4000 delegates including students, entrepreneurs and industry experts, who showcased over 500 projects. The fair was inaugurated by the Minister of Science and Technology Dr Harsh Vardhan.
We bring you a set of interesting projects straight from the heart of the expo.
Students from Jharkhand’s Deoghar district showcased a hydraulic crane they designed using syringes. When asked what inspired them to build this, one student answered: “It was there in a book of experiments.”
Pupils from Society for Environment and Development exhibited the importance and uses of vermi-composting that has wide uses in agriculture, gardens and nurseries, forests, and soil and water conservation.
Students from Pragati Vigyan Sanstha exhibited a simple kitchen experiment that turns a normal potato silver. The process works in three steps: put a potato on a flame till it turns black. Next, place it in a glass of water and then watch it turn silver.
For safety purposes, students weren’t allowed to light a flame. But I tried the experiment at home and it worked!
An interesting application of the property of ellipses, every time we hit at one end, it will always hit the striker on the other. The striker will always be reflected by elliptic boundary to the striker placed opposite to it.
Another highly exciting experiment was that of ‘Is Light Visible?’. Press the switch and see if the light inside the tube turns on. As the next step, put your hand inside and keep the switch pressed. You will see your hand get brightly illuminated.
Light is not visible in space. It’s only when it’s reflected off solid surfaces that we really get to see it.
Students from Rajiv Gandhi Center for Biotechnology, Trivandrum, showcased the application of modern science to further the benefits of Ayurveda.
Students from the Biogas Development & Training Center at IIT-Delhi have developed the following technologies related to biogas – such as water scrubbing-based Biogas Enrichment and bottling for vehicular application, and Biogas production optimization from de-oiled cakes, to name a few.
BDTC, IIT Delhi also provides support to nodal agencies across Delhi, UP, Haryana and Uttarakhand.
These are just some of the projects that showcase a peep into India’s future. And as I sign off, here is a group of schoolchildren who set a perfect example of how excited we need to be when our country makes giant strides forward.
The post has appeared on Humans of Delhi & Indiatimes and is written by Anjali Bisaria.
Stan Herd, an abstract expressionist painter turned fields into his sprawling canvas, on which he makes art of his own. The medium of his painting is earth itself, his palette consists of soil, wheat, sunflowers, and corn; his brush is a tractor; and his images can be seen only from an airplane. The artwork is nothing but stunning!
[vimeo 139016244 w=500 h=281]
Commissioned by the Minneapolis Institute of Art, this earthwork features a rendering of an “Olive Tree” painting that Van Gogh completed as part of a larger series of Olive Tree paintings created while living in an asylum in Saint-Rémy in 1889.
“We were four couples on a road trip from Delhi to Jaipur, sometime in 2014. The ladies made the trip a hell by complaining about unclean toilets. One of them said that she wished she was in Europe where they could get reusable devices to urinate in dirty toilets”, says Deep Bajaj.
Deep couldn’t mute the resonating comment. “We laughed it off in that moment. However, I couldn’t rule the idea out. I decided to build a similar product in India, however a re-usable one, catering to Indian mindset”, he explains. Pee-Buddy is a very helpful product for women who are pregnant or are suffering from arthritis.