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


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.