Tuesday, August 26, 2014

India Proud On These Young Peoples_Part 1

Arunachalam Muruganantham: The sanitary napkin man:

Arunachalam Muruganantham, a workshop helper - from being rejected by the same women whose lives he wanted to change, designed, created, tested and implemented a sanitary napkin-making machine that operates on a small scale, now gearing up to create jobs for a million women.

The boy who created the thinking wheelchair:

Chivalrous Humanitarian Ideological Loiter Device. The term may not mean much at first glance but the innovation it stands for, has the power to empower millions of disabled people around the world.

CHILD is a multiple-utility based system that helps people unable to walk, to move around independently. It consists of a motion control based on Gesture, Strain, IFR Remote and Dual-tone Multi-frequency signalling. A Haptic Arm and Tray has been attached to help the visually impaired avoid obstacles while navigating. The system is also RFID and password enabled to ensure user security. 
The innovation is the result of one boy’s experience of watching his father struggle to live a life of dignity while consigned to the wheelchair. When Udhay Shankar saw his father, a cancer patient, grappling everyday with this inability to be independent he knew he had to do something about it. The experience shaped his entire approach to innovation. 

“The dependency on wheel chairs in India is on the rise,” says the 20-year-old from Coimbatore. “The motto was to help physically challenged people to be as independent as possible. Secondly, to ease human effort and add a comfort factor to their daily lives.” 
Udhay is currently pursuing his Bachelors in Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineering at the PSG College of Technology in Coimbatore and CHILD, which won the Grand Jury Award at Innovation Jockeys this year is merely the beginning of his efforts at empowering those he can.
“Currently my friends and I are trying to set up an NGO called TRY (The Revolutionary Youth), which is aimed at teaching the orphans and underprivileged children Robotics, MS Office, writing mails and using the search engines,” he explains. 

Apart from empathy, the quality that defines Udhay is ambition. Armed with sound technical skills he doesn’t shy away from taking on big projects. Works in the pipeline include an innovation called AGRO which is aimed at reducing the transportation losses incurred in the transportation of fruits and vegetables. Meanwhile, DESTRO is meant to cater to ‘defence and security applications at houses, industries, etc. “It has the ability to attack, detect obstacles within 10m range (Using LASER) and navigate by itself with override options. It can pick objects and carry them and finally attach the target.” Udhay explains. Another one is SENSE which is about ‘home and industry automation.’ The aim is ‘monitoring water, electricity and gas consumption online and so online payment is made easy.’

So where does this appetite for innovation come from? 
“The most important thing is to understand the pain of others and take it up as your own. Believe that every problem has a solution,” says the young engineer. “Spend some time thinking of the possible ways to solve it. Analyze the merits and demerits. The scope of any innovation revolves around cost, performance and utility. The solution’s simplicity is its essence.”

Students fought against milk adulteration:

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) made a shocking revelation in 2011. In a first-of-its kind survey on milk adulteration the authority found that 70 percent of the milk in India is contaminated. Most Indians are consuming detergent and other contaminants along with milk without even realising it and consumers are largely helpless. How do you tell whether the milk you’re drinking is fit for consumption or not? For all you know you could be drinking poison in the name of nutrition.

This horrified two students at IIT Bhubaneshwar enough to do something about it. Pravir Singh Gupta and Partha Ghosh decided that it was time one stopped relying on government authorities and found a way to empower consumers instead. This led them to create Drink Pure - a device that would allow consumers to detect impurities in milk for themselves.

"Frequent reports of adulteration of milk with harmful chemicals, associated health hazards and lack of government surveillance for such incidents - inspired us to come up with the idea of Drink Pure – a simple take-at-home test to check milk for adulteration," says Pravir.

How Drink Pure works
Most home based methods to test adulteration check only for water and are more often than not, time consuming. The tests to detect chemical based adulteration use chemicals themselves and can only test for a limited number of contaminants at a time. Each chemical requires a different test and busy householders decide to forgo these entirely to save on time. This is where Drink Pure comes in.
"Drink Pure is a handheld device that uses semiconductor based sensors to detect adulteration in milk," explains Partha. "It does not require any chemical reagents to detect adulteration."
Pravir chimes in with the philosophy that has led the two of them to develop Drink Pure in the first place. "I strongly feel innovators need to focus on empowering consumers," he says. "This is because in developing countries consumers are more likely to be cheated as producers take advantage of lax government agencies that fail to prevent it."

However, the project has run into a familiar roadblock known to all budding inventors - shortage of funding.
"The design of the product is ready," says Pravir. "However, currently we are trying to procure equipment to manufacture sensors. Some equipment we have managed to get but the rest is pending. Shortage of funding is the major challenge we are facing. We need an industry collaboration to help us manufacture a prototype."
In their final year of B-tech at IIT Bhubaneshwar, the two hope to see their project come to fruition in the next couple of years. While, Pravir dreams of making it big as an entrepreneur, Partha wants to become a scientist and this – their respective areas of expertise and interests – they say is what makes them such a great innovating team.

The two 22-year-olds are currently working on a 'surveillance system for smart cities’ and have filed for a few patents together. When asked will the partnership survive graduation, both insist in unison "Of course!"

Helping the visually impaired get digital:

Who knew a trip to a blind school would have the potential of completely changing the future of blind technology. When 23 year old Rakshith visited an institution for the blind in his city of Bangalore,he was shocked at how difficult learning was for the visually impaired, specially the beginners for whom each lesson was torturous.

“They had to punch holes in order to write in Braille with the help of a sharp object. They told me it was sometimes painful to keep punching holes at a fast rate,” he says. “It was then that a few of my friends and I decided to develop a Braille pad to open up the digital world to them.”

The team devised a way to convert text in digital books to Braille with the help of what they now call a Universal Digital Braille Book. Until now, learning for the visually impaired has been limited to whatever books are available in Braille.They are largely unable to access the vast amounts of data on the internet that rest of us take for granted. The Digital Braille Book makes this tremendous reserve of digital knowledge as easily available to them as to anybody else. For the blind students that Rakshith shared his idea with, his concept was the equivalent of an ‘open sesame’ into a world where they could learn on an equal footing with their sighted counterparts.

How the Digital Braille Pad works“Universal Digital Braille Book is designed using the principles of embedded systems. It converts any document on computer to Braille instantly,” explains Rakshith.“The data is sent serially from the computer to the micro-controller where it actuates a sequence of vibrators thus impressing upon paper to form corresponding Braille letter of the received English alphabet. This way any text document on the computer can be converted into Braille text with ease.”

However,Rakshith and his friends have taken the concept even further to create a Digital Braille Pad. This will allow visually impaired students to take their exams without assistance. Currently in most schools they depend on other students to write for them while they dictate. The Digital Braille Pad would free them of this necessity. The pad simply reverses what the Digital Braille Book does.

“The Digital Braille Pad uses a micro-controller to enter Braille codes into the computer just as any other normal keyboard,” explains an excited Rakshith.“This will then convert the Braille code into English alphabets or any other language depending upon the code conversion”. They have already developed a prototype for both the Digital Braille Book and the pad and successfully tested each of them on blind students. However Rakshith points out, “We are trying to improve the design by reducing the size of the models and increasing the number of cells in the Braille Book so that many letters can be displayed simultaneously.”

Meanwhile, Rakshith continues to innovate furiously in the field of assistive technology. Going beyond the classroom he has come up ASHWA, an autonomous vehicle for the visually impaired. And it’s not just the visually challenged he intends to help. Rakshith and his friends are working to develop a device that converts sign language into speech with the help of image processing. Other projects include an Unmanned Fire-fighting Robot, an online health care solutions provider, and a process that helps generate electricity from traffic on roads.

Having completed his bachelors in Electronics and Communication from RV College of Engineering, Bangalore, Rakshith is currently employed as a software engineer in the research wing of a multinational conglomerate. However the Nicola Tesla disciple intends to return to his true calling pretty soon - a rebel and a social innovator with an entire list of causes. 

The students who took on car thieves:

You used them for shopping until now, but QR codes could soon help you in securing your vehicles.
At least that’s what Arun Balaji, Dhanraj. J and Dhanaraj. S, collectively called the Beta Adroits, are trying to accomplish with their innovative solution to on-campus security. “There were a number of cases in our college where our college mates had their bikes stolen,” says Balaji. “It was during the same period we were also extensively exposed to the brand new smartphone technology and found out how it could be used to scan QR codes. It was then that an idea dawned on us. Why not create sophisticated QR codes and fix them on vehicles. They can be scanned using smartphones and also webcams,” he adds.

The three, who are all pursuing their masters degree in Computer Applications from Sona College of Technology, Salem, Tamil Nadu have already completed 75 per cent of the source code and are almost ready to implement the security system on their campus.

The reception to the idea has been tremendous with both college professors and students eager to see their mechanism in action. They soon plan on introducing the system in other college campuses across Chennai. Indeed, if successful, their security system using QR codes would not just effectively curb vehicle theft on college campuses, it would also make screening vehicles easier in housing societies, office campuses and parking lots. With the number of car thefts rising every day the Beta Adroits Security System answers a very immediate need.

Their ingeniously simple solution, they say is the product of simply expanding one’s mental horizons and rethinking the way we use existing technology. Are we using the available technology  to its full potential? The answer, they say, may surprise us. “The scope of other technologies can be increased as well. There are lots of students thinking that way, who have come up with similar innovations. We are constantly looking at how to innovatively use what we have,” explains an excited Arun.

Automation is another thing that interests this group of young innovators. Tired of getting into trouble every time they forget their driving license or insurance papers, they are looking to collectively come up with a system that will automate the verification of vehicle documents. Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention and even innovation.

The three are currently working on various individual projects as a part of their internships. 24 year old Arun Balaji is working on a ‘Data Integration Hub’, while Dhanraj S is working to create a ‘Developer portal’. And Dhanaraj J is helping a company create a system to combat money laundering.However, each is aiming to use their unique brand of innovation to get started on their own. Their approach can be condensed in their own words. According to the Beta Adroits, “An innovator is someone who takes a different perspective on things from others. He/she might attract ridicule in the beginning but success is never out of reach."

The student who created a mobile classroom:

“A classroom is generally a box with 4 walls and a blackboard on one side,” says budding architect Jayshil Patel, “I came up with the whole idea of modifying the same box in a different version making it modular and mobile”. The result is Baksha, a modular moveable classroom that can be transported to remote places and villages devoid of any educational infrastructure. Thus, bringing education literally to the doorstep of disadvantaged communities.

Having been forced to go to boarding school because there was no quality senior-secondary school nearby, Jayshil says he couldn't help but think of those students who had absolutely no access to any form of education and had to travel miles just to get to a classroom. “Due to the sheer scale of the population in India, education is a luxury not a right; especially for the poor and down trodden” he says. This made him rethink the whole concept of school and classroom, and sparked off the idea for a moveable classroom that would bring education to children, particularly in the rural areas, instead of forcing them away from their homes. The concept of Baksha was thus, born. While examples are rife, across the world, of mobile vans being used to provide books and other educational materials to people on the go, there are several unique features that set Jayshil's innovation apart.

Although, it functions primarily as a classroom, Baksha’s flexible nature allows it to be used for other purposes as well. “The modular classroom with an area of 21 square metres is equipped with the latest teaching techniques, storage space, modular furniture and public utility services. As the furniture is modular it aligns itself with the floor” Jayshil explains. “Fusing a few of the Baksha units together, it can be utilized for performing various other activities. It can be converted into a relief camp, clinic, polio booth centre, etc”
Besides being multi-purpose  and versatile Baksha is also environmentally friendly. Built using Medium-Density Fibreboard (MDF) it uses solar panels for electricity and is economical in the long run. It is also relatively easy to transport. Jayshil’s ‘box of life’ can easily be attached to a truck, train or a helicopter depending on where it needs to be transported.

He further adds, “The structure is transparent so it gives an eye for natural light and ventilation. Sound-proofing materials are also used. It can also be raised on stilts which protects it from rain.” However, despite the overwhelming positives, the 22-year-old graduate of Sardar Vallabhai Patel Institute of Technology is finding it extremely difficult to get adequate resources for his project. As a result he is yet to create a prototype. He is currently looking at government and corporate backing to help get his idea off the ground.

Innovation Jockey’s, he says has given a great platform and the confidence to pursue other ideas and innovations. And he doesn’t intend to stop. A conscientious architect he wants to innovate in the field of sustainable buildings. “I am working on a concept home, which would be the first Lead and Griha certified” says an excited Jayshil.

However, early challenges and hurdles have already made the 22 year old wise beyond his years. An innovator he says, like his idol Steve Jobs needs to have tremendous belief in himself and his ideas in order to fully succeed. For that one has to be willing to put up with the occasional failure.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Health Tips...


1. Don’t skip breakfast: Studies show that eating a proper breakfast is one of the most positive things you can do if you are trying to lose weight. Breakfast skippers tend to gain weight. A balanced breakfast includes fresh fruit or fruit juice, a high-fibre breakfast cereal, low-fat milk or yoghurt, wholewheat toast, and a boiled egg.

2. Bone up daily: Get your daily calcium by popping a tab, chugging milk or eating yoghurt. It’ll keep your bones strong. Remember that your bone density declines after the age of 30. You need at least 200 milligrams daily, which you should combine with magnesium, or it simply won’t be absorbed.

3. Eat your stress away: Prevent low blood sugar as it stresses you out. Eat regular and small healthy meals and keep fruit and veggies handy. Herbal teas will also soothe your frazzled nerves.

4. Pure water: Don’t have soft drinks or energy drinks while you're exercising. Stay properly hydrated by drinking enough water during your workout (just don't overdo things, as drinking too much water can also be dangerous).

5. Burn fat during intervals: To improve your fitness quickly and lose weight, harness the joys of interval training. Set the treadmill or step machine on the interval programme, where your speed and workload varies from minute to minute. Build up gradually, every minute and return to the starting speed. Repeat this routine. Not only will it be less monotonous, but you can train for a shorter time and achieve greater results.

6. Do self-checks: Do regular self-examinations of your breasts. Most partners are more than happy to help, not just because breast cancer is the most common cancer among SA women. The best time to examine your breasts is in the week after your period.

7. Asthma-friendly sports: Swimming is the most asthma-friendly sport of all, but cycling, canoeing, fishing, sailing and walking are also good, according to the experts.

8. Laugh and cry: Having a good sob is reputed to be good for you. So is laughter, which has been shown to help heal bodies, as well as broken hearts. Studies in Japan indicate that laughter boosts the immune system and helps the body shake off allergic reactions.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Indian leaders Unforgettable Speeches:

Lately, the country's seat of power and its hallowed portals are more in the news for lawmakers' disorderly behaviour, constant disruption of proceedings, shouting matches, near-brawls and, on the odd occasion, members even catching up with their sleep while laws are being made.

But it wasn't always so.

India's Parliament, from the time the country breathed free on August 15, 1947, has seen many an upheaval, echoed many a laugh, reverberated with applause, and seen remarkable exchange of ideas.

Things were not always unparliamentary. Manners were impeccable, debates decent, and speeches sparkling. To be fair, though, every now and then, members surprise us with their friendly, gentle demeanour and also with their enlightening discourses.

There have been some remarkable speeches made on the floor of the House through the ages. Many of these speeches will continue to enthrall successive generations. From the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, our leaders have held us spellbound on numerous issues -- ranging from national interest, security, unity, and everything in between.

Here are ten select speeches by Indian leaders in Parliament and elsewhere: these are memorable because of the message of patriotism, spirituality and honesty they dwell on. They also underscore the sacrifice of the founding fathers of this great nation. Check them out.

Father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi's speech recorded in Kingsley Hall, London in 1931. 

Father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi's speech recorded in Kingsley Hall, London in 1931.

Dr. BR Ambedkar, the principal architect of the Indian Constitution, addressing the Constituent Assembly in the Parliament in 1946.

Former PM Indira Gandhi's last speech, addressing a rally in Orissa in 1984.

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose addressing India and East Asia. (Location unknown)

Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s address to the nation on the first anniversary of Independence on August 16, 1948.

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