Friday, 29 November 2013

Sting Ring

“The gruesome (December 16) gang-rape in New Delhi last year prompted me to devise a safety ring called‘Sting bee’ that can be worn by women on their right index finger to defend themselves against a potential rapist or killer” says Imran Khan, an innovator from Chitradurga, Karnataka. With his innovation, now Imran Khan has given the custom of wearing and gifting rings a whole new meaning. He believes that, ‘Finding a solution to the problem is innovation’.
Once, Imran’s sister was stung by a honey bee causing her severe pain and distress, but unlike others he did not stop after comforting her. Taking a cue from the honey bee, he wanted all women to carry a ‘sting’ that will help them avoid rogue attacks from marauders and for self protection in hostile situations.
Imran devised the ring ‘Sting bee’ that spews a chemical compound called Capsaicin on ejection causing attacker intense pain, itching and burning sensation. Imran says, “As Capsaicin is four times hotter than BhutJolokia (pepper) and 300 times more spicy than Guntur red chillis (from Andhra Pradesh), it stimulates chemoreceptor nerve endings in skin and causes shooting pain for 45-60 minutes in an offender when injected into his body from the ring's micro tank using a micro pump and a micro needle”.
“We hear a lot about women being attacked or violated these days and the phenomenon is across the country”, says Imran adding, “Women are gods most beautiful creation and its man duty to protect their dignity, hence, I invented the ring that can sting like a bee. Usually in a combat situation, we primarily use our hands, so I thought of using a ring as a weapon”. The Ring is fitted with a cartridge that contains the chemical Capsaicin which protected by a dual lock mechanism to avoid spillage and damage to the system.
Imran explains the use of Capsaicin saying, “Since my sister was stung by a bee I wanted to use Bee venom, but bee venom is not only neurotoxic, it is also expensive. Then I thought of using Formic acid but it is metal corrosive,hence decided to use Capsaicin which is a chilly extract”. The ring is not just a weapon though; the ring has an RFId (Radio Frequency Identification) for detection and a computer chip that can also send the location to emergency numbers provided and alert the police stations in the vicinity.
Presently, Imran has made these rings available in steel, silver, and gold. The rings are aesthetically made and often topped with a jewel or gem.
Apart from being an innovator, Imran is passionately dedicated to doing something for the oppressed sex, hence Imran established ‘Save my Sister Trust’ through which he plans to create awareness, and provide help to victimised women, besides giving 100 sting rings for free. He is now actively working on getting a women’s helpline number that will be common across the country. His ideas for women’s safety includefree legal service for women especially in cases of sexual violence and starting an online portal that can register complains. The portal will also aim to offer counselling/ training on how to deal with sexual assault, and means to bring the culprits to justice.
Imran explains, “Women often refrain from approaching the law as there is a social stigma associated with sexual assault. There are also legal fees which the victim has to pay. In the absence of support, women fail to get the guilty punished. Through ‘Save my Sister Trust’, I plan to raise around 120 crores – that is one rupee by each Indian citizen – to provide for free legal service for victims. This will see 6000 lawyers being hired and working for the cause”.
Professionally by training, Imran is a pharmacist turned entrepreneur and manages a company called India Operating System through which he conducts research and sells other revolutionary innovations. Imran after working with a Pharmaceuticals company for 4 to 5 years in exports realised that medical errors was a growing phenomenon these days. “Presence of over 2000 odd pharmaceutical companies selling over 20 thousand life saving combinations have complicated the lives of Pharmacists and Doctors alike. It is also difficult for them to remember adverse drug combinations and reactions for some many newer molecules” explains Imran adding, “Doctors prescription should be well written and well read as misinterpretation or incorrect combinations can be devastating for the patients. With this in Mind I devised a prescription pad that will reduce the prescription writing time for doctors from 50 seconds to 30 seconds”. The Electronic prescription pad is a genius concept as it will alert the doctor or the pharmacist when an adverse drug combination is detected in the prescription. Similarly there is no margin for misinterpretation as the prescription is in electronic display and from a list of fed in medicine brand names and dosages. The electronic prescription unit also helps the patient with a unique login id and password so he need not carry his prescriptions to where he travels or relocates. The entire medical history is online and can be accessed from anywhere. A soft copy of the prescription is also saved with the pharmacist. The devise will store data that can be used in multiple ways by all sorts of stakeholders. Imran has managed to sell this patented product to another company for a sum though he continues to work on upgrading the system.
Imran did his primary schooling from Chitradurga district and is a resident of Babbur village. While most of us pay our taxes and blame it on the government for not providing us good facilities, Imran believes in the system. Imran narrates, “I come from a not so well to do family. While my parents worked hard to provide for the family the government helped me in a lot many ways. I studied in government funded schools and colleges and then also did my graduation from a government college. During my pre-university and my graduation days, I stayed in a government funded hostel that gave me nice food. Government is doing a lot but most of us exploiting the government like Power theft for example. I am working on an Electronic Prepaid Fuse to help the government dealt with this menace. By working on this meter, and for the society, I am just giving the government back for giving me all these facilities when I needed them”. Imran’s current assignment is the Electronic prepaid fuse which he has been working on for a year now. The Electronic Prepaid fuse (EPF) has features like theft detection, tamper proof, and can be used as a standalone device to detect power fluctuations, being prepaid it will help government tackle defaults.

Imran also has interest in the hospitality industry and there may be an innovation happening there as well. 

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

From Monk to an Innovator



Agriculture is the basic foundation of Human civilization.A primarily agrarian society necessitated invention of various devices that could till large portions of land with minimal efforts. From Henry Blair to Henry ford, many have created super-efficient harvesting machines but the flip side is that all these machines consume huge amount of power. These machines are extremely energy inefficient and hence expensive and not eco-friendly. Thumswamy Joseph David (TJ David)worked on overcoming these inefficiencies and developed a solar powered robotic harvester by redefining the application of Physics and Mechanics.
TJ David,although a school dropout is gifted with an exceptional scientific temperament. Hailing from southern India and born in not so well-to-do family, David had to work to support his family as soon as he hit his teens. David remembers, “My father passed away when I was very young and I had to quit school to support my family.  One day, I saw a sage who was teaching his disciples about atoms in a very religious way and I decided to become his follower. But becoming a yogi was not my karma, I had to do something for the mankind”. David adds “I was always curious about things and how they work and why they work? Since not much information was available around, I would resort to books and teachers but often my teachers drove me away as they themselves didn’t had the answers”.
In an attempt to satiate the never ending zest for finding answers and solutions, David landed at the IIT Delhi campus with Prof. S Swaminathan who not only taught him fundamentals of Mechanical engineering but also played the pivotal role of a mentor.  David’s interest in various forms of energy motivated him to study and understand how the Sun’s energy can be tapped and harnessed.
Not being a conventional student also allowed David to focus on projects that addressed prevalent problems and the break-through outcome of this approach was a unique Robotic Solar Power Harvester that he developed along with his team.In addition to solar power the harvester can be run using grid power and can even be operated remotely using a mobile phone. David says “When we initially presented our solar power harvester concept, people were smug enough to decline the plausible usage but when we actually demonstrated a working model they had to retract their own words and take notice of our work”. David further adds, “Heavy machine like Tractors and harvesters need more power to run themselves than the work they do.All harvesters presently available globally are diesel engine based and are extremely energy inefficient with efficiency levels as low as 15%.Moreover, in case of conventional harvesters, the vehicle engine provides drive to all the attachments which results in power loss, as the engine is continuously running to power one or more components. Hence we decided to completely restructure the basic assembly to achieve energy efficiency. After extensively studying‘Traction Rolling Friction’ principle,we have now developed a highly efficient motor and power transmission system which has successfully help ed reduce energy consumption by 20-30 times as compared to conventional engine. As a result our harvester consumes only 3.0 KW power per acre and harvesting can be completed in just 2 hours. Moreover, as this harvester can completely work on solar energy, the dependency on fossil fuel is completely eliminated”.
After working as a consultant for over 40 companies and travelling across the country handling heavy machinery, David can claim to be a “self-taught” mechanical engineer. He is also the winner of the prestigious ‘Ashoka Fellowship’and ‘Lockheed-Martin India Innovation award’.
Presently, David is working with The Engineering Technology and Innovation Centre (ENTICE) of the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Hyderabad and is in-charge of developing necessity-based mass impact technologies.He has more than 20 low-cost inventions to his credit which include an animal-powered transmission system, a poultry care system, a pump less cooler, etc.   With support from IIT Hyderabad’s ENTICE,Davidhas patented his innovations in over 40 countries.
Recently, David has also received an offer to collaborate with Lockheed-Martin Inc. “They have the best technology for cold-storage and photo voltaic cells while we have the most efficient solar-powered engines. If the two get combined, I am confident that we can develop five to six-seater solar energy based passenger planes against the one-seater presently developed by them” says David.
For some time, David has been busy tackling another social problem in AndraPradesh. He says “The stone tile processing industry in Tandur is suffering from acute grid power shortage. It results in low productivity, loss of business and affects livelihoods for over three lakh people. Now, we have collaborated with Green Urja firm; and are able to save around 8.5 megawatt of power and Rs 22 crore per annum.”

David’s ultimate dream however is to start a research institute for “Innovative minds” where the focus will not be on academic excellence but on innovations that solve real life basic problems through technology. His journey from being a monk to a scientist and then an innovator is surely inspirational.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Forus

Every five seconds, someone, somewhere in the world goes blind. Every minute, one more child goes blind – and 60% of these children die within a year.
There are up to 45 million people already blind across the world. Without effective intervention, this figure is set to rise to 76 million by 2020.  More than 90% are in the developing world. India suffers a worrisome 12%.  Cataract, Diabetic Retina, Glaucoma, Cornea and Refraction problems constitute 90% of blindness.
Most importantly, over 80% of this blindness is needless and can be easily prevented or treated. In rural India, a vicious cycle of poverty and limited resources play havoc with the lives, thus impacting the well-being of the nation as a whole.
Another major challenge in this segment of healthcare is identifying the population that needs treatment. Our current system needs expensive diagnostic devices for screening, requiring separate devices for each problem, coupled with the availability of highly skilled technicians and ophthalmologists during screening. This increases the cost of service substantially and hence limits scalability; this has resulted in a grossly under serving the rural market. Only around 7-10% of people at various stages of blindness are screened and treated as of today.
Dr Shyam Vasudeva Rao from Bangalore decided to crack this problem and after putting 1.5 years of hard work, he and his dynamic group of technocrats at ‘Forus Health’ designed revolutionary device ‘3nethra’ which is world first portable, intelligent, non-invasive, non-mydriatic eye pre-screening headhunt device which is extremely cost effective and can be operated by a minimally trained technician.  3netra can simultaneously detect 5 major and most common ailments; Cataract, Refraction, Diabetic Retina, Glaucoma, Corneal Problems.
Dr. Shyam has a doctorate in Real Time Embedded Systems, specialising in Parallel Computer Architecture from Indian Institute of Science (gold Medal) & has worked for CG Smith, Ericsson & Tata Consultancy Services and Philips. Working as a director of technology in Philips Innovation Campus Bangalore, he established the innovation framework for Consumer Electronics and Medical Systems division. Dr. Shyam is very passionate about offering low cost technological solutions aimed at rural health.
While elaborating the need for 3netra kind of solution Dr. Shyam says “About 8 years back, we had the opportunity of meeting Dr. G.Venkataswamy, founder of the world famous Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai. He helped us realise the seriousness of blindness in India and also explained how Arvind Eye Hospital was using innovative methods to reach the poor. The discussion was overwhelming and we were very fascinated by the kind of service the Arvind Eye hospital was doing by almost serving 2/3rd of its customers for free. We wanted to use our technology background to solve our countries health problems. This made us work on the idea of needless blindness prevention as the first step”.
Using 3nethra, Forus Health aims to increase pre-screening efficiency for eyes related problems in rural India. The initial version of 3netra was aimed at adult and elderly patients but now Dr. Shyam’s team have developed a version with in-build refractometry for screening eye defects in small children. This is huge step forward for preventing needless blindness in young kids.
Dr. Shyam says “another major eye problem which we are currently working on is to detect retinopathy in prematurely born babies as the rate of blindness is extremely high if not diagnosed and treated within 48 hours of birth. We are building a version of 3netra to address this problem which will be available soon.”
In India, 3netra has been very effective in screening population, outside the hospitals, in camps, Kiosks, RTO office, wedding halls, social gathering etc. and the results were quite shocking.  In a year they screened around 300 thousand people but the alarming part was that, among those who were diabetic, 32 % of them had diabetic retina while the world average is 20%. This has major impact on the other organs as well and there is more than 90% correlation between diabetic retina and diabetic nephropathy or Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).
If one does not know that they have CKD, and hence cannot manage this disease, then they could soon get into end stage and the treatment is putting them on dialysis. This looked like a much bigger problem that eye problems. Eye care and Kidney care are two very different things, the competencies are different, the hospitals are different, the market dynamics are different except that both have diabetes in common. And managing diabetes could manage DR as well as CKD.
So now Dr. Shyam and his team are working on project called ‘RenalyX’. It works with screening CKD and those having this problem, they will be put on a disease management and those unlucky ones who have reached end stage renal disease (ESRD) they are put on hemo-dialysis, which can be done in tire 2 and tire 3 towns as well as rural areas. The products and services are just getting developed and too early to count any success.

3netra has won multiple national and international awards for the technological innovation but what is more heartening is that it offers solution which is aimed at masses. Dr. Shyam adds “one of the key differentiator of Forus is that we are working on a problem & the products we develop are only a consequence. Our aim is to see how we can address needless blindness through technology.” Till date, Forus’ 3nethra has been exported and installed in more than 20 countries including France. 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

India develops world’s first engine to run on mix fuel



It all started in the year 1986 in Durgapur(West Bengal). A professor was teaching working of an Internal Combustion (IC)engine at the National Institute of Technology, in a class of Mechanical Engineering. Whilst he was teaching,a student asked the professor if the piston could be used in revolving motion, instead of using in vertical motion.The piston revolving around itself will make the engine small, easy to use and more efficient. After listening to this question a wave of laughter spread in the class and the point got lost as the topic its seriousness. But this inquisitive student, who had asked the question, did not get disheartened. In his quest to find the answer, he made a wooden model of an engine with revolving motion at home and started studying more about it. This proved as a precursor to the making of a revolutionary innovator who developed the RVCR engine technology that can work on any type of fuel. This Innovator was Das ArgiKamat.

This radical innovation by Mr. Kamat can give a new direction to the Global Automobile Industry.This Indian innovation is patented in over 51 countries. America’s research organization - Lockheed Martin Corporation had organized Global 1500 Best Innovationsrecently, where this technology was positioned in first 8 best innovations and on behalf of an organization ICSquare of Texas University, this technology was elected to develop America’s Commercial Schemes. Mr. Kamat can very well be regarded as the first Indian Technologist to achieve this laurel.Besides that, this technology will also be presented in Engine Expo 2013-14to be held in October at Automobile Industry’s alma mater– Detroit. University of Maryland has also proposed to use this RVCR technology in wind energy sector.

RVCR stands for Rotary Variable Compression Ratio. From the efforts put in by Kamat for facilitation and more efficient Engine Manufacturing Processes; he developed the RVCR technology, and while studying it more, he developed new revolutionary innovation i.e. RVCR Multi-fuel Capacity Engine which works on mixed fuel. Kamat got into detail study of the engines based on IC technology working on various fuels. He studied their arrangements, explored for the similarities and differences in their compression ratio and the reason behind it. Every fuel has its fixed compression ratio and engines are also designed as per this fixed compression ratios. IC engines also follow this principle. Moreover once the engine is created, it is impossible to make amends. Considering this Mr. Kamat decided to develop an engine that would be in a separate chamber while compression ratios could be adjusted using external devices. This would facilitate efficient and effective use of any fuel type. Mr. Kamat’s continuous experimentation helped him develop an engine that regulated fuel combustion pressure to aid rotary motion. This provided a breakthrough in the vertical motion technology. Even after dedicating 5 years to achieve the desired engine, his journey did not stop.

 Das ArgiKamat applied for an intellectual property right or patent in the year 1999 and today this technology is patented under his name in 51 technologically developed countries across the globe. According to Mr. Kamat, “Research has been conducted on this technology since 1920 however it was only on the conventional vertical piston engine. RVCR is the first and only researched and developed Indian innovation. Vehicles like Cars, motorcycles, trucks, tractors, as well as power generators, ships, and defense related machineries can use developed using this technology. This not only saves around 30% of the fuel but also reduces the engine size. Engines that can run on petrol, diesel, LPG, CNG, biofuel, etc will offer new dimensions to this field and also support the national economy in a big way”.

Kamat was born in Kerala and was raised in Bhillai, Madhya Pradesh, as his father was posted there for a project. He graduated in Mechanical engineering from Durgapur and joined Merchant Navy. After working there for 13 years, MrKamat quit his job to start a mechanical research and development firm ion Kochi called, GYATK RVCR Operators Private Ltd. He developed his dream RVCR engine in the year 2007. Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation availed him with a venture capital loan of three lakh rupees. Not to mention this invention was more time consuming than anticipated, and there was a point in time when he had shelved all his money and was still working for over 17 hours a day. He was very well supported by his family during this phase. Mr. Kamat reckoned, “Research and Development proved to be very expensive. I have invested more than 6 to 8 crore rupees in the effort and most of it was self financed. I guess I had to jump from being a scientist to an entrepreneur. Twice I was on the verge of Bankruptcy and I learned a lot from the phase… But I never lost focus. I made some really good and intelligent friends during this phase and they are equally credited with this innovation that is all set to revolutionaries the automotive world. A feeling that this innovation will be India’s contribution to the world, kept us motivated”. Mr. Kamat showcased his invention at the International engine expo 2010 in Germany and as expected it garnered praise from all corners. Auto majors like Volkswagon, BMW, requestedKamat for a demonstration while the organizers took special interest in their work. Indian tricolors waved in their full glory at Stuttgart, Germany that day. There never have been such technological advances done in the country since Independence. We have always been a huge market place for the countries world over. Hundreds of vehicles are sold in the country but never with an Indian Engine. On this backdrop, a scientist like Das ArgiKamat independently invented an advanced engine that is giving a new direction to the world’s automotive industry is exceptionally astonishing. An Indian innovator dedicatedly worked to accomplish that no other technologically advanced country in the world could, is certainly something to be proud of. 

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Zimba


Majority of us follow the society’s rule book of studying hard through school and college to get a good job, and eventually working hard to climb up the corporate ladder. Suprio Das from Kolkata was also taught the same rules and he did follow them to his corporate life, only to realise that there is a lot that can be accomplished by working on his own. After many failed and some successful innovations, Suprio Das has successfully created a revolutionary product that will aid ground water purification in the rural areas.

Statistics show that every minute a child dies of waterborne diseases. Educating the masses regarding water purification is one aspect but more importantly making resources available tothem is an uphill task. Mr.Das’ determination to solve this problem, prompted him todesign ‘Zimba’, an automatic chlorine dispenser or water chlorine doser that is proving to be a boon against impure ground water. Zimba is a unique chlorine dispenser that has no moving parts and thus is very low on maintenance. The only thing Zimba needs is regular chlorine replenishment but the cost of water chlorination is only INR 5 – 10 per 10,000 litres, which is very affordable considering the cost of medication for waterborne diseases and associated severe repercussions. It is based on the auto-siphon mechanism, dosing chlorine at a specific water level. According to Mr. Das, “Zimba is substantiallydifferent fromother existing water dosersthat have the ability to disburse chlorine depending upon water level”. Zimba does not consume electricity either and can be fitted to a common water pipe that supplies water to over 60 families.

Born in a middle class family in Shillong, Suprio Das is aware of the problems in obtaining clean drinking water and wanted to do something for the society. He has worked with several NGOs like Aqua Welfare Society, GOAL India and Shipping Health to make safe drinking water available.Shipping Healthhas performed research on arsenic content in water and ways toreduce, if not completely eliminate, the level of arsenic in water. He soon found himself working with IDDS (International Development Design Summit) an MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) initiative to collaborate with ‘like-minded people’ for creating a unique solution. Mr. Das says, “90% of the innovations these days are for only 10% of the people because these are profitable options. IDDS focuses on innovations that are for the underprivileged and for the needy”. Zimba was conceptualised at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) D-Labs in the year 2009 and a working prototype was ready by 2011. Later Zimba was successfully demonstrated at Stanford University, Cornell University and industrial summits in Dhaka, Ghana, and Sudan. To test theon-fieldutility, a pilotstudy was done in Sunderbans, West Bengal where 5 – 7 hand-pumps were fitted with Zimba. While the water quality increased the financial aspects were also encouraging. As of today Mr. Das is working with an entrepreneur who is also a hand-pump mechanic for installing Zimba and charging a sum to cover costs. He has also been approached by various national and international business houses for commercial production of Zimba.

Mr. Suprio Das did his Electrical Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Ranchi, India and has worked on several projects that include generating electricity and water purification. He continues to serve as an advisor to Aqua Welfare Society for the construction of modified dug wells. His other notable innovations include Treadle Pump Electricity, and generating electricity for domestic lighting from Human Powered Vehicles. His work and service to the society had earned him a yearlong grant by MIT-India/IFMR (Institute of Financial Management and Research) Trust Seed Fund besides TePP (Technopreneur Promotion Programme) Fund by the Ministry of Science and Technology, India. His ability to address hard problems of everyday life has been instrumental in hisbeing invited to 4 consecutive International Development Design Summit (organized by MIT) at Boston, Ghana and Colorado. He was also invited as Designer-in-Residence at MIT to work with and mentor students of D-Lab on development design. Mr. Das finds his mentorship at MIT very enriching as there is co-learning with the students which leads to co-creations.


Mr Das always had the desire to do something for the people who are less fortunate than him and he draws inspiration from the problems faced by these to come-up with new innovations. Through the years, he has worked on a hand pump, a hand powered cell phone charger and, more recently, an automated chlorine doser (Zimba) that contains no moving partsand does notrequire electricity.He is determined to channelize his inquisitive mind for the larger section of society that manages on meagre resources. 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

You don’t need eyes to dream big

Human body is wired to crave for sugar. Some studies have even suggested that consuming sugar can enhance uptake of crucial amino acid such as tryptophan from the food which is known to be indirectly associated with the feelings of well-being. But unfortunately, large number of people have to reduce consumption of sugar or give it up completely because of increase in the incidences of diabetes due to rapid urbanization and industrialization in India.
India is gradually emerging as world’s ‘Diabetes Capital’ with over 70 million diabetics reported in the year 2012 by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). Undoubtedly, Diabetes takes away some sweetness from the life but now a revolutionary innovation by Mr. C. K. Nandagopalan (Nandu) can certainly help restore it. Nandu, although visually challenged, is a prolific inventor and is credited for making ‘natural cane sugar diabetic friendly’ for the first time in the world. 
In the year 1987, Nandu established a research foundation called ‘Revolution’ with the aim to study classical Tamil sciences, especially aspects regarding Physiology, Pathology, Medicine and Food & Nutrition. He is also extensively researching on identifying new medicines from traditional knowledge system against auto-immune diseases. After exhaustive and systematic research, Nandu is now successful in making natural cane sugar diabetic friendly by blending it with a unique formulation of herbal extracts. 

According to Nandu, the genesis of diabetic friendly cane sugar is attributed to hassled parents of a young diabetic. Nandu explains, “I was approached by a grieving parent who had difficulty in controlling their child’s blood sugar levels as the child constantly yearned to eat sweets. Although, the parents could strictly monitor and control the child’s diet and glucose intake at home, while away, the child had easy access to candy, ice-cream, and other high sugar food items. Denying access to sweets was also straining the physical and emotional health of the child and the parents were perceived by him as his enemies. I had to do something for the family”. Nandu researched ancient medical system and applied his knowledge to develop a unique formulation of extracts from herbs and spices like Fenugreek, Turmeric, Black Pepper, Dried Ginger, Cinnamon, Gooseberry, Pomegranate, etc. to blend with natural cane sugar for making it diabetic friendly. As per Nandu’s hypothesis, the herbal additive allows glucose present in the blood stream to be effectively absorbed by the body at the cellular level.  

Although, there are other commercially available sugar substitutes like Aspartame, sucrolose, saccharine, etc. they have a bitter after-taste and cause  side-effects like enlarged liver and kidneys, reduced growth rate, decreased Red Blood Cell (RBC) count, etc. These sugar substitutes also have limited usage as they are heat sensitive. On the contrary, herbal treated cane sugar does not have bitter aftertaste and has no side effects. Moreover, this sugar can be used with any type of food and the heat sensitivity is at par with conventional cane sugar.

Nandu has branded his diabetic friendly cane sugar as ‘DiaBliss’ which is currently available in large metros. Nandu adds, “As herbal extract for making DiaBliss is derived from several herbs and spices using water (and no other chemical), the extract is colorless, odorless and tasteless and thereby restores the original taste of cane sugar & derivative products. By blending the herbal solution with sugar as well as carbohydrates and fruit pulp, we are able to provide a complete and integrated system for carbohydrate and fructose management for the first time in the world. Moreover during the preparation of herbal solution, potassium, calcium and antioxidants are extracted without altering the potency. We have also found that DiaBliss sugar addresses typical symptoms of diabetics which include low energy levels, lethargy, itchiness, craving for food and sweets by allowing enhanced absorption and better body metabolism”.
 
Manufacturing DiaBliss is a bit expensive process but by scaling-up the production, Nandu is successful in catering to big chunk of diabetics at an affordable price. He emphatically says, “Feedback for DiaBliss has been more than phenomenal; we have received hundreds of testimonies that boast about DiaBliss as a revolutionary sugar.”
Now Nandu and his team have developed a complete line of products using DiaBliss Sugar which include Sweets, Chocolate, Coffee & Tea Mixes, Multi Grain Porridges, Jams, Ketchup, Milk Shakes, Ice Cream Mixes, etc. Nandu’s DiaBliss, world’s first diabetic-friendly natural cane sugar, has global application and will enable diabetics to consume unlimited choice of foods without compromising on health.

As Nandu is a serial innovator, apart from DiaBliss, he has developed multiple other products such as ‘Heritage Sanjeevi’, ‘Nanneer’, etc. Heritage Sanjeevi is a novel topical medicine and claims to have highest wound healing capabilities. He claims that it can even heal radiation burns.
Another of Nandu’s innovations that is generating excitement is NANNEER which means “Pure water”. NANNEER is an herbal additive and Nandu claims that it has innumerable application in water management and agriculture. The concept of NANNEER is extremely cost efficient and any poor nation in this world can afford to produce NANNEER for a better environment and balance ecology for all the living species survival on land and water. Nandu also claims that NANNEER has proved its worth in handling polluted industrial effluents. NANNEER treated water promises to increase agricultural yield too.

Many ailing older patrons have often blessed Nandu though they say “Had you been a bit older than me I would have touched your feet”. This, as per Nandu is his greatest achievement.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

We can see the world in a grain of sand

One day, a young reporter boldly asked Thomas Edison about his 9000+ failed attempts while inventing a light bulb and whether he thought he should just give up. Perplexed, Edison replied, "Young man, why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitively over 9000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp." And shortly after that, with over 10,000 attempts, Edison invented the light bulb.
With a similar mindset, Biosense Technology’s Myshkin Ingawale from Thane and his friends started working aggressively on a dream medical device. Their focus was on detecting the medical condition ‘anemia’ as more than 2 billion people worldwide suffer from it. According to World Bank estimates anemia causes up to USD 50 Billion in productivity losses worldwide. Moreover most of the 2 billion anemic are in the developing world and tightly linked to nutritional status.
Myshkin says “Children and pregnant women are the most at risk of mortality - more than 1 million women and children die annually from undiagnosed anemia although it is perfectly treatable and can be controlled by changes in diet, iron tablets and folic acid.”
Till date, quantitation of blood hemoglobin levels which is an indicator of anemic condition is done only by using invasive techniques as no non-invasive method is currently available. Briefly, a small volume of blood is collected by pricking the finger or by using needle-syringe which is subsequently processed in laboratory to quantify hemoglobin levels. Hence, for measuring hemoglobin you need a trained technician and a small laboratories setup.   
Myshkin and his team conceptualized a completely non-invasive methodology based on ‘optical principals’ to measure hemoglobin. They hypothesized that by using spectroscopic techniques one should able to quantify blood hemoglobin. Although the idea seemed simple, in practical terms it was highly improbable if not impossible.
Myshkin and his team made more than 32 failed  attempts before they could achieve a breakthrough in building world’s first non-invasive, low-cost, scalable, systemic health care solution ‘ToucHb’ for diagnosing anemia. ToucHb could be a boon for millions of poor as well as old people around the globe, who suffer from undiagnosed and therefore untreated anemia. It is simple, inexpensive and non-invasive detector for anemia, which requires no needles, no pricking, no high tech gadgets and no trained assistants. ToucHb is a real game changer. Apart from blood hemoglobin, Touchb can measure oxygen saturation, body temperature and pulse rate. 
Talking more about the device, Myshkin says “The ToucHb works by shining light of different wavelengths through the tissue of the subject’s finger. Hemoglobin has a characteristic absorbance. Understanding the spectrum, and understanding what signals to filter out, ToucHb is able to determine the concentration of hemoglobin present in tissue.” Discussing about the failures, complexities and challenges faced while working, Myshkin adds “We learnt that every small thing has its own complexities. We can see the world in a grain of sand. We had to learn as we went along –We learnt the hard way – by being wrong!” Myshkin adds “there are hundreds of such ‘fixable’ problems all around us! We’ve learnt quite a bit of what NOT to do in product development thanks to our ToucHb story”.
Now, ToucHb is deployed in few clinics in India for testing and currently the team is planning to scale the production from 30-40 a batch to more than 1000 a batch. Biosense Technologies is also exploring opportunities to partner with different international and national health agencies to create global impact with ToucHb.
Myshkin gets excited by the words ‘non-invasive’ and ‘point of care’ and truly believe that there is a revolution underway in medical technologies which India should lead. He also believes that mobile devices will soon play a major role in preventive healthcare. Hence after the ToucHb’s success, now he and his team are working on another breakthrough project, a smartphone app ‘uCheck’ that helps diagnose and monitor 25 medical conditions. The uCheck app greatly simplifies urine analysis and also dramatically reduces the cost. It uses smartphone camera, color dipstick and the uCheck’s peripheral kit, to measure up to 10 parameters of urine such as glucose, ketone, urobilinogen, pH, bilirubin, etc. The results can be saved, shared, exported and analyzed as a trend over time. Routine urine analysis can help diagnose more than 25 medical conditions including diabetes, problems of kidney, liver and bladder along with common infections like UTIs. 
uCheck is already launched for an Apple device and now Biosense Technologies is working on adapting it for cheaper android devices. The android version of uCheck which will be launch soon will certainly empower primary healthcare workers to perform urine analysis in the remotest part of our country which currently has no access to primary healthcare facilities. 
On a personal front, Myshkin is a big fan of bicycles and working on a project idea for a fabrication system that will enable anyone to design a bicycle for themselves, from frame to finish.
 

Sunday, 22 September 2013

‘My innovations are aimed at improving Rural Healthcare’

WHAT are the majority of Indians working abroad worried about the most? Obviously, their parent’s health back in India! Rajendra Sadhu, founder of Vyzin Electronics was also going through similar emotional dilemma. Whenever his parents had health issues, Rajendra had to rush back to India to look after them. He was worried that medical emergency can strike anytime, hence was desperate for having a monitoring service or device that would help avert any medical disaster with his parents.
 
‘Necessity is mother of all inventions’, although a cliché, again proved right. Rajendra thought of a very innovative solution, which he later named ‘VESAG’, to remotely monitor his parents health. What’s incredible is not that Rajendra thought of this device but what’s more amazing is that no one had thought of it before.
In March 2010, Rajendra conceptualized a remote monitoring device that could be ‘worn like a watch’ and would help track the vitals of the user. Moreover, in case of an emergency, the device would also trigger an emergency response mechanism to avail immediate medical help. The concept was novel, hence, Rajendra patented it and immediately started working on building a prototype.
Rajendra has masters in IT from Vijaywada and MBA from Rutgers University, USA and worked for more than 10 years with Verizon Wireless. He got so fascinated by his remote monitoring device idea, that he decided to quit secure job and invested all his life’s savings into this project. The prototype ‘watch’ was ready within 8 months and the concept was widely appreciated.
Vesag ‘watch’ is a wearable device and works as an information gateway. It interacts with all other Vesag devices such as Oximeter, ECG, heart-rate monitor, blood pressure unit, etc. and sends health parameters using mobile technology. All the information is then integrated and uploaded to the cloud for remote health monitoring. Information can be verified by the primary care doctor remotely and can provide appropriate feedback. It can be also used as a mobile-based personal emergency response system.
In March 2011, Connected World magazine ranked ‘VESAG’ as No 1 Connected Health Devices in the world. Rajendra is also the winner of DST-Lockheed Martin India Innovation Award.
Now, Vesag devices are sold in over 15 countries, Rajendra says "Our solution has received phenomenal response. Every day, we receive multiple emails, especially from caregivers saying Vesag has completely transformed their lives. Our device gives mental comfort especially, to non-working women who can now step out of their house with a belief that their elderly family members are secured and monitored." Rajendra further adds "various people have now found multiple innovative applications of VESAG systems e.g. Parents use these devices to monitor their children while some BPO employees are using Vesag as it offers them a sense of security and access to emergency services when coming home late at night."
Encouraged by the success of VESAG watch systems, Rajendra felt that he should develop a solution especially aimed at pregnant women from remote areas as many of them have hardly any access to primary healthcare and monitoring. Hence, Rajendra conceptualized and developed a very small, portal Fetal Doppler unit intended for detecting and recording the fetal heart rate (FHR). It is applicable for use in clinics and homes, and can be conveniently operated by patients themselves. Rajendra says ‘Often, when pregnant women feel that the baby is not kicking, they visit a nearby clinic or primary doctor, who could be miles away. With our Fetal Doppler, pregnant women can check FHR even at home without visiting the doctor. As the Fetal Doppler can also be integrated with Vesag watch systems, automatic alerts can be set depending on the FHR readings. ‘My innovations are aimed at improving Rural Healthcare’
Moreover, now Vesag has also developed a ‘Fetal Care Plan’. Based on primary information, Vesag portal will calculate the trimester and deliver SMS messages to pregnant women regarding the precautions they have to take during the period of pregnancy thereby decreasing the maternal deaths and perinatal mortality.
 
Although, VESAG solutions are inexpensive, they might still be a bit expensive for rural Indian population. Hence, Rajendra is currently piloting a project whereby individual devices are placed at a Panchayat office or with ASHA workers to check the health of all the villagers with special emphasis on pregnant women. Rajendra says "Innovations at Vesag are aimed at improving rural healthcare. Our watch can be shared by 99,999 patients. Villagers can be given a unique ID number; they can wear the watch after entering their unique ID number. This transmits their health information to doctors and can prove a fantastic diagnostic tool when there aren’t hospitals or doctors in close vicinity. Moreover, even rural hospitals can use one set of watch and Fetal Doppler on multiple patients." says Rajendra.
All innovation by Rajendra are now geared towards remote health monitoring, especially aimed at rural setting. His mission is to target this sector as hardly any innovations are currently happening and requires a totally different approach. Rajendra wishes to ensure that his technology benefits all sections of the society.
 

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Rancho and his School for Innovations

Everyone knows ‘Rancho’, the protagonist from the classic ‘3 Idiots’. Rancho epitomizes out-of-the-box thinking, creativity and positivity by challenging the routine discourse of life. In 3 Idiots, the world watched Rancho (Aamir Khan) and his lady love ride a unique scooter fitted with a flour mill. The movie is full of such small innovations by Rancho but very few know about the real brain behind these simple yet great machines ……. the ‘real life Rancho’. 

The real life Rancho is Sheikh Jahangir Sheikh from Jalgaon, now 52-year-old and a car painter by profession has shown immense ability to innovate since his childhood. As Jalgaon faced huge electricity crises, Jahangir first designed scooter powered spray-painting unit about 25 years back to sustain his business.  Initially, he developed a compressor on a Luna (a moped) but as it did not work properly due to Luna’s low engine power, he experimented with scooter to build mobile spray painting device to get work done faster and easier. Jahangir spent about Rs. 4,000-5,000 for buying second-hand scooter and modified it into spray painting devices. Till date Jahangir has sold about 6 such spray painting machines.
Although, a school dropout, Jahangir considers life as his biggest teacher and firmly believes that mother is the necessity of all inventions. While the reel life Rancho had everything at his disposal, Jahangir supports family of 9 members and lives in a rented 'one room' accommodation.

Despite his poverty and problems, Jahangir enjoys toying with new ideas and doesn’t stop experimenting. Initially, people around him use to call him a 'mad man' but today, much to their surprise his innovations have been appreciated by the high and mighty including President of India.
Jahangir is full of pride to see his scooter in 3 Idiots. Now, he has converted multiple second-hand scooters into super machines like portable front loading washing machines that even saves water, a generator which can power tube-light, TV and fan, automated sugarcane juice making unit, etc. His scooter-powered flour mill is a big hit and of immense help to poor who can only afford to buy grains in very small quantities. Jahangir has even modified bicycles to charge mobiles, run mixer, play FM radio, etc.

National Innovation Foundation (NIF) which works for promoting grass-root innovations has also appreciated work done by Jahangir and because of NIF’s efforts, Jahangir’s innovations were exhibited on multiple platforms including at Rashtrapati Bhavan.  Former president of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam and Smt. Pratibha Patil have personally appreciated Jahangir’s work.

Jahangir says "I wish to develop machines that will help people in solving their problems. Giving back to society is the most satisfying experience and I want to work to make the nation proud. Whatever I have learnt, I try giving back.”
In 2011, while Jahangir was going through a lean patch in his life due to health reasons, he thought on the concept of innovation school and started his ‘Masti Ki Pathshala’ under Jahangir Foundation initially on pavement due to lack of facility and infrastructure. This year, he renamed his school as ‘Rancho Innovation School’ and shifted to a free space allotted by Mr. Hemant Patil.

The primary objective of ‘RANCHO Innovation School’ is to promote creative and out-of the box thinking amongst young students. Jahangir is also keen on imparting practical skills to students that will make them employable. This school is almost free and the enrolled students are only expected to pay Rs. 10 for the entire year. Currently, the school has about 400 students. Jahangir says “Students come to my school to gain practical knowledge and majority of them are from very poor economic background. There is no qualification and economical background bar for taking admission. Even students from good schools or technical and engineering courses are enrolling to get practical knowledge.”
Jahangir is very keen on promoting practical education especially amongst kids from slums that will make them employable. He personally visits slums and rural areas to inspire students to join his school. He is looking to increase the number of students to 1000 soon.

Another key feature of his school is that Jahangir organizes ‘idea competition’ every alternate day. Jahangir adds “till date students have submitted more than 900 unique Ideas which highlight their zeal, creativity and ability to think out-of-the-box”. Now Jahangir dreams of taking this ‘idea competition’ to every nook and corner of Maharashtra to create an idea bank. 
Jahangir is very passionate about his mission to promote innovation but expects suggestions and support from the society to take this initiative forward. Anyone can reach him on 09422282938.

Jahangir says “we need to create many more Ranchos, as only Ranchos can change India”.

Important: National Innovation Foundation (NIF) and Prof. Anil Gupta is working aggressively with Sheikh Jahangir to take his innovations to masses.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Susant Pattnaik: Real Life 'Doremon' or an Innovation Champ?

Nowadays, TV addict Kids in India simply love Japanese cartoon character ‘Doremon’ who always come up with very cool gadgets to help his very average and foolish brother Nobita. Doremon’s gadgets are unreal but still fantastic and innovative and kids always dream of having them. But I wish to take this opportunity to talk about Susant Pattnaik, a real life Indian Doremon.
Susant, son of a veterinarian from Bhubaneswar, is a serial innovator and an entrepreneur, having invented several cool devices since his high school days.  From a wheelchair that operates through breathing to an anti-theft mechanism for cars, the list of his innovations is big and enviable. Moreover, more than ten of his innovations have already made the critical transition from idea to a working prototype. Recently, Susant was also among the top winners of the seventh National Grassroots Innovation Awards, given by the National Innovation Foundation.

One of the most interesting and award winning innovation of Susant is his wheelchair specially designed for paralyzed and which operate just through breathing. This wheelchair prototype uses an innovative battery operated breathing sensor invented by Susant, which is worn as a headphone by the users to navigate the chair by giving commands just with their breath. The sensor acts both on air and heat in the breath. This breathing sensor is attached to a transmitter while the receiver device receives wireless signals in the form of breath. As the user breathes, the transmitter transmits the signal and the receiver receives it for controlling the movement of the wheelchair and performing other tasks. Now, Susant has also designed a novel anti-accident circuit for the wheelchair to avoid any mishaps.   
 
This breathing sensor technology has been recognized and awarded by various organizations like National Innovation Foundation, MIT Technology Review, NASA, Intel, etc. He was also selected as youngest inventor by MIT Technology Review.
Another interesting innovation by Susant is the anti-theft mechanism for cars which is operated through a mobile phone. The anti-theft device uses a mobile SIM card which can be paired with your phone.  The moment anyone breaks into the car and tries to fiddle with ignition, you get a beep on your phone with a call back number. The moment you call back, the mechanism get activated to immediately shutdown the car. This device also enables you to even trace the car via GPS.
Susant claims to have successfully installed this mechanism in over 50 cars in Bhopal. Moreover, variation of the same technology can have wide applications especially in security systems for home, office and shops.
Another innovation by Susant which can have wide application is the Low Cost Voice Operated Electrical and Electronics Appliance system. It works on voice by saying the name of the electrical appliance, for example light bulb or fan by mentioning its proper time of activation or deactivation, through any cell phone.
Presently, Susant is working on a very interesting concept, ‘Super Sense Technology’, a circuit-based device that will remove the need for a keyboard or mouse for a computer.  One can attach it on the wrist and operate any computer by a slight hand movement.  He is also working on an advanced model that has a jacket with an in-built computer.  The jacket and the wrist band together works like a computer.  According to Susant, you can type, draw or even access the internet – without needing a separate computer.
Apart from being a serial innovator and entrepreneur, Susant is also a motivational speaker and regularly addresses large gathering of students, which includes students from premier institutions like IITs. He even has a NGO for supporting innovators like him. Needless to add, he lists Dhirubhai Ambani among his role models.
Important: National Innovation Foundation (NIF) and Prof. Anil Gupta is working aggressively with Susant to take his innovations to masses.