Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mangalyaan 'tweets' first image from Mars:

Barely 12 hours after India's Mars Orbiter mission, Mangalyaan, entered the red planet's orbit, the spacecraft sent the first image from the neighbouring planet.

According to a CNN IBN report, the Mangalyaan sent five photographs of Mars, tweeted from ISRO's Mars Orbiter Twitter account (@MarsOrbiter).  The caption of the image read, "The view is nice up here."

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) confirmed receiving initial data from the MOM.

India's mission to Mars entered the orbit on Wednesday, making it the first Asian nation to reach the Red Planet, and the first country to achieve the feat in its maiden attempt.

The cost of the mission was less than the budget of the Hollywood space blockbuster "Gravity".

The Mars Orbiter Mission, or MOM, cost $74 million (45.29 million pounds), a fraction of the $671 million the U.S. space agency NASA spent on its newly arrived MAVEN Mars mission.

With this success, India joined the United States, Russia and Europe in successfully sending probes to orbit or land on Mars.

In 2011 a Chinese spacecraft destined for Mars failed to leave Earth's orbit after a botched Russian launch.

ISRO successfully ignited the main engine and eight small thrusters, which fired for 24 minutes, trimming the speed of the craft so it could be captured by Mars's gravity and slide into orbit. 


Nervous flight controllers received confirmation of the successful manoeuvre around 8 a.m. India time when the spacecraft, nicknamed MOM, emerged from behind the planet and transmitted a signal.

After completing the 666 million km (414 million mile) journey in more than 10 months, the spacecraft, also known as Mangalyaan -- Hindi for "Mars craft" -- will now study the Red Planet's surface and scan its atmosphere for chemical methane.

ISRO scientists will operate five scientific instruments on the spacecraft to gather data, said ISRO's scientific secretary, V. Koteswara Rao.

The expected life of the craft is six months, after which it will run out of fuel and be unable to maintain its orbit.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said he wants to expand India's five-decade-old space programme. The technological triumph is fortuitously timed for him - he will be able to flaunt it on a trip to the United States starting on Friday.

Modi is also India's minister of space, and noted with satisfaction that the project had cost less than "Gravity", whose budget the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) estimates at $100 million.

Mangalyaan and NASA's MAVEN join two other NASA orbiters, Europe's Mars Express orbiter and two NASA rovers currently exploring Mars.

MAVEN, which arrived on Sunday, is an acronym for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution. It is designed to study the planet's thin atmosphere in attempt to learn what happened to Mars's water. (With inputs from agencies)


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

India Proud On These Young Peoples_Part 3

NRI creates headsets that will help you meditate:

Rohan Dixit's innovation may not seem like much at first glance but his brainwave headset that helps you meditate aided by technology might be twenty first century's most revolutionary innovation in preventive healthcare.

Child prodigy to Innovation Jockey:

“My innovation – the app Sales Desk is developed with a mission to lead in the retail industry.”
Coming from anyone else this would sound like an idle boast, but Yuvraj Singh is no ordinary 18 year old. The Jalandhar boy was computer literate before he had even learned how to read, a fact that led him to be nominated for the Guinness and Limca books of world record, and made him the local media darling at the tender age of four. He would also go on to launch his first website at 12 years old and followed that up by starting his own company Devil’s Infotech in 2010. He names his parents, both software engineers, as his inspiration.

Sales Desk, a mobile app to help retailers keep track of their sales records is the result of his interaction with his father’s clients, mostly retailers who he says were constantly exasperated by current methods of tracking sales. The innovation helped him get shortlisted from among four and a half thousand hopefuls for Innovation Jockeys season 2. “Sales Desk filters data in four categories that are daily sale, weekly sale, monthly sale and yearly sale. The user can view the total sale and generate tax and email reports very easily using my application,” Yuvraj explains. The app aggregates sales data in a way that also allows the retailer to monitor sales data at multiple venues.

Yuvraj is currently pursuing his Integrated B.Tech – M. Tech Diploma in Computer Science Engineering from Lovely Professional University, Jalandhar. When asked about his hobbies and passions the 18 year old innovator says there is little outside the world of computers that interests him. His current obsession with mobile platforms ensures that he spends most of his time ‘exploring different parts of upcoming apps and technologies’ to inspire and improve his own creations. He is currently working on an Instant Messaging Application which he promises will be worlds apart from existing apps. 

So what inspires him to keep innovating?
“I am constantly inspired by Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. They achieved so much at a young age. I may not have the platform and access to resources they did but that will never stop me,” is the quick reply.
Next on agenda for the wildly ambitious teen whiz is expanding his company to start an R&D centre with a focus on mobile platforms. He hopes one day to branch out internationally. Innovation in itself, Yuvraj says, is not that difficult but to keep innovating is a challenge. And one needs to constantly innovate to stay in the game.

Boy wonder creates a system that makes car keys redundant:


Imagine using your smartphone to access and control your vehicle. If 22 year old Arvind Sanjeev had his way that is exactly what we would all be doing. His Remote Vehicle Activation System using the Android operating system allows you to switch on the air conditioning, turn off the headlights, open the boot of the car and even have the engine running, all without leaving your bedroom. He intends to make the smartphone smarter and do away with bulky car keys in the process.

“This application gives the user all the features that he would like to access without even entering the car. The phone along with the custom hardware module installed within the car enables the driver to access features like air conditioning, engine Start, parking lights, central locking, power windows, music players, boot access, etc all from within a distance of about a 100m (ideal) from the car,” explains Arvind.
However, convenience, Arvind says, is secondary. The primary objective of his remote vehicle activation system is to offer a more enhanced security to vehicles. The number of vehicles on the Indian roads is on a rise and so are car thefts. The current remote locking system is inadequate and in desperate need of an upgrade. Well Arvind is here to provide one.

According to Arvind, “These systems apart from being overpriced, provide only one basic feature that is central locking and that works only within a distance of 10-20 m. The system operates at 300-600 MHZ frequencies and can easily be hacked or may get triggered accidentally as it is at lower frequencies. The conventional system also has only one function which is to lock and unlock doors and has a limited range of control of about 10-15m.” He further adds, “The system is also costly and maintenance is required.” In contrast his product “does not demand any additional service charges or maintenance. It is a onetime fit and forget system.”

The response to the Remote Vehicle Activation System has been huge. Given an opportunity to present it at the Blackberry 10 launch in Mumbai early this year, Arvind has been floored by the positive reception his system has generated. Although still in the prototyping stage he soon hopes to be able to tie up with an industrial original equipment manufacturer to commercialize his invention.

However, the remote vehicle activation system numbers only one amongst a dazzling inventory of innovations. The born and raised Cochin boy who is currently pursuing his engineering bachelors in Electronics and Telecommunications from the TocH Institute of Science and Technology is a prolific innovator to put it mildly. Fanatical about robotics and electronic system design, Arvind already possesses an exhaustive stockpile of inventions and creations, all of which are testimony to his budding genius. Some of his projects integrate mobility and robotics and include an Android operated miniature robot car, an Android controlled Honda dio scooter and an autonomous line following robot. His work with GPS technology has yielded a portable GPS navigation module, a glove controlled Hovercraft, a digital speedometer for scooters based on GPS and a keypad protection and anti-theft system for vehicles. He also continues to experiment in related fields creating an Auto-stabilization system for quad-rotor helicopter, an interactive voice response systems and finally an Electric ignition based rocket using his own solid fuel mixture. An innovator truly worthy of the name.

So what drives the 22 year old to invent so furiously?
Arvind's answer is simple - passion. 
Arvind is also Innovation Jockeys' biggest success story. He is a part of the jury for Innovation Jockeys Season 3. 

From failing in engineering to co-founding a million-dollar company:

In a world where everyone around us want us to "think" and follow the conventional route to success, Varun Agarwal shares a very different mantra of success -- "Don't think." Varun shares his fascinating story of starting India's largest college merchandise company and becoming a bestselling author, while braving a certain 'Anu Aunty'.

A low-cost speed controller:

India has the world’s worst record in road safety. More people die in road accidents in India than anywhere else in the world. Recognising the desperate need for a solution, R Keerthivasan an engineering student from Coimbatore, set to work on a device that would prevent drivers, specially those of public vehicles from driving rash. The result is his version of a low-cost speed controller, which when fitted into any automobile would prevent the vehicle from going beyond a certain speed limit.“Basically, when the user rotates/presses the throttle in an automobile, the force is used to open a valve proportional to the throttle movement. More the throttle is pressed, more the valve opens, and more power is given to the engine.” Keerthi explains, “In the proposed design, when the speed of the automobile exceeds a desired limit, then the force applied by the driver to the throttle is isolated. So even if he gives force to press the throttle of the automobile, this will not be passed on to the valve.”

Force isolation, he says is the USP of this design. That and the fact that its 40 per cent cheaper than any existing speed control systems. While various state governments have tried to make speed controllers mandatory in public transport vehicles, the prohibitive cost of installing these speed control systems has made implementation tough. It takes as much as 15 to 20,000 rupees for each installation and modifications have to be made to the fuel supply system. This makes it uneconomical specially for small time contract vehicle owners.

This is where Keerthivasan's speed controller comes in. “Other products manipulate the fuel supply system, while I do it by manipulating the throttle wire movement,” points out Keerthivasan. “Also, other products are dependent on the type of fuel used, while my design is fuel - independent. It can be fitted to any vehicle that has a throttle.”

Keerthi, as he’s fondly called, has already created a prototype and fitted it in his bike. He now wants to turn his model into a product but the challenges are tremendous for this budding entrepreneur. The first hurdle is getting your idea patented. Having applied for a patent in 2011 he might have to wait for as long as five years for it to come through.

However, this has not deterred the 22-year-old innovator from continuing with his quest of making technology affordable. He is currently working on a charger for electronic devices that cuts off power after a specified time. There is already a similar product in the market that costs 2200 rupees but his will be a cheaper design.

Still in his final year at college in PSG Institute of Technology, Coimbatore, Keerthi already has big plans for the future. He dreams of running his own innovative solutions enterprise. The Steve Jobs fan says, anticipating the wants and needs of a consumer before he/she recognizes it, sets successful innovators and entrepreneurs apart from the rest of the crowd. A quality that makes him stand out from the rest of his contemporaries. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

India Proud On These Young Peoples_Part 2

The boy who created a washable notebook:

When 21 year old engineering student Indrajeet Ghorpade saw waste paper bins at his college hostel overflowing with used notebooks at the end of every semester, he was horrified. If this was the waste generated by a single institution, he could only imagine the scenario at schools, colleges and universities across the country at the end of every academic cycle. Thousands of tonnes of paper wasted each year just on rough-work and calculations. Considering that India recycles only 26% of its paper,this amounted to shocking misuse of a non-renewable resource. Something needed to be done and fast.

The first step for Indrajeet, was admitting that despite technology providing us with paperless alternatives like laptops, tablets etc, the conventional paper notebook at least in the Indian context was here to stay. Although, access to technology is rapidly increasing, it remains out of reach for the poor student. Besides, writing and learning is still the most popular method of studying in India across the economic spectrum.
The question that kept doing the rounds in his mind was how did one come up with an environment-friendly alternative that was affordable and yet did not disrupt the preferred method of studying? At last it dawned upon him. A reusable notebook that uses washable synthetic sheets instead of paper. So simple.
"These sheets can be washed, dried,re-bound and used again,” says an enthusiastic Indrajeet. “Thus you end up saving electricity and trees that go into the manufacturing of the conventional paper notebooks as well as the money that goes into buying new books”.

"Since stationery can be very expensive," he says. "This is an attractive alternative for the students. One does not fill all the pages of a book in a day, so you don't have to wash it everyday. Most likely you'll only need to do it once a month and its as simple as doing your laundry.” When showcased at the Innovation Jockeys contest last year, the reusable notebook became an instant hit. Buoyed by the positive response generated by his product, its proud creator says it’s only a matter of time before the reusable notebook hits the market.

“I have presented my idea to few of the leading stationery manufactures and organizations that support eco-friendly innovations and have received a positive response. With efforts channeled in the right direction along with smart marketing strategies, we should be able to see the product being used in every household, school and college in near future.”

In his final year in engineering at the Vellore Institute of Technology, Indrajeet has already landed a cushy job with a prestigious internet company. However, he dreams of striking it big on his own someday. First on his agenda is creating an “educational Institution where teaching will happen in an unconventional way with a complete emphasis on gaining practical skills, encouraging creativity and innovation.” Other dream projects include, turning his house and eventually the entire neighbourhood into an eco-friendly zone. A beach-side café also happens to be on the list.

However, the die-hard fan of Vint Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee insists that innovators today have a more difficult challenge ahead of them. Environmental sustainability must be a part of every solution. For him,a true trailblazer is one who can think diversely and “come up with a technique that is efficient, cost effective and supports sustainable development.” Much like the reusable notebook.

They made shopping easy:

Don’t you hate it when half your time is spent trying to locate products in the super market rather than purchasing them? 
Two students from Nagpur may have the solution.

Sudhanshu Shekhar and Tanmay Agrawal, both students at Shri Ramdeobaba College of Engineering and Management, Nagpur have developed a mobile application for smart phones that automatically syncs your shopping list with the network of the mall. The program on the network server then locates each product from your list, in the mall and finds the shortest path to avail these products. This app even alerts you when a product that was previously out of stock is available or not.

“The project consists of two phases. Phase I is creating the shopping list on the handheld device (designed for Android and Windows based smartphones) through a unique user ID and password,” explains 25- year old Sudhanshu who’s currently pursuing his Masters in Computer Applications. “Phase II will have a pop-up on the screen as soon as the user logs on to the application. The pop- up will contain current offers at different stores. The manager can also manage the inventory simply by seeing the database stock list and getting a pop-up on the screen when the quantity of a product is below a certain a level.”

According to 21- year old Tanmay, who’s currently in his final year of studying Electronics Engineering at SRCOEM, the main purpose behind the innovation was  to develop retail businesses at superstores and malls in such a way that it both provided ‘a rich shopping experience’ to the consumers and generated superb profits for the retailers. The innovation called Smart Shop was among the shortlisted ten innovations for the Innovation Jockeys 2013 Awards.

When you talk to the two, you quickly realize that while they maybe a team, their approaches to innovation couldn’t be more different. Where Sudhanshu, the older of the two and obviously the dreamer, talks of revolutionizing the retail industry, Tanmay prefers to focus on convenience and practicality. Smart Shop is the result of this perfect marriage between ambition and a workman-like attitude.

According to Sudhanshu, “To be an innovator you must have an ability to think and to mould your dreams into reality.” Meanwhile, Tanmay who regards Pranav Mistry as the greatest innovator of our times, uses his example to tell us what he thinks ought to be the prime objective of any innovator. ‘His (Mistry’s) innovations make things simple and that is what matters.”

A helmet that saves lives:


Over 32,000 people died in motorcycle accidents last year in India. When three students from Manav Rachna College of Engineering in Faridabad looked deeper into the statistics, they were shocked to learn that difference between life and death in most cases was the time it took for medical help to arrive. Mayank Dawar, Chaitanya Chhabra and Mohit Bahl sat together and pondered over how an SOS for a motorist who lay critically injured possibly unconscious could be sent out as soon as possible. In general an ambulance is supposed to reach the site within 10 minutes, but the Indian average is about 18 minutes. A further delay struck as unconscionable to the three engineers.

What would emerge from this intensive brainstorming is an innovation called Smart Skull. “We were shocked to find out that the most of the patients were unable to get immediate health care after an accident because of which the fatality rate has been increasing,” explains Mayank. “The idea is to deploy a wireless device in the helmet of the rider that measures the impact on the head. The device is paired with the rider’s Smartphone (loaded with a cloud integrated application) that analyses the data from the device and informs the relatives, nearest hospital and emergency centers about the intensity and location of the trauma.” 

Smart Skull has a mobile application (for Android and Windows) that is connected to a sensor within the helmet via bluetooth that makes the call to ICE (In Case of Emergency) numbers immediately from the driver’s phone after the motorist meets with an accident. Smart Skull beat out over 4000 entries to be among the 10 shortlisted innovations for the Innovation Jockeys finals this year.

The three 20-somethings from Delhi credit Technoplanet labs, a student initiated lab at their institution for providing a sound technical platform where they can convert their ideas into working innovations. Hesitant about revealing anything about projects they are currently working on, before filing for a patent, the three nonetheless hint at something big in the pipeline. 

So what does it take to keep coming up with new ideas and innovations? 
“A fresh mind, and peace”, is the heartening answer we’re given.

Indian student creates futuristic shopping trolley:


Tired of long queues at cash counters? Thanks to an engineering student from Bangalore, that may soon be history. “When I recently went to a supermarket to buy groceries, I had to stand in a long queue for billing, which resulted in an unpleasant shopping experience. Searching the products across the floor and remembering my shopping list was also a problem. I also realised that there was a tremendous possibility for In-store marketing and advertisements. KART was born as a solution to these,” explains KART creator Bhargav Sridhar.

KART, according to Bhargav is an intelligent shopping trolley designed to provide a seamless shopping experience by implementing an RFID reader, an Interactive Display System and a weighing console. The Display System provides an effective user interface that syncs shopping lists from the user’s phone, displays product information, offers and best-buys and even shows bill information. Product codes are scanned by the RFID reader and syncs them to the display system while the weighing console takes information for perishable products (fruits and vegetables).

Impressive? The jury at Innovation Jockeys 2013 thought so as well. KART won the Retail Category at the Innovation Jockeys Awards Night on 30th August, 2013. 21 year old Bhargav comes from a family of engineers and is currently in his final year at Visveswaraya Technological University, Bangalore studying Computer Science Engineering. 

“My father being a Mechanical Engineer and my mother a Telecommunications Engineer, I was inspired with machines and technology right from my childhood,” says Bhargav. “Innovation for me is like an adrenaline rush. The value it creates, the lives it affects are a source of immense satisfaction.” 

Apart from KART, he is working on ‘developing a search engine that produces Info-graphic and flow-diagrammed results for user queries.’

Photography is another passion of Bhargav’s. He shoots officially for Apex Racing, Bangalore and is also an accomplished table tennis player having represented his school at national level competitions. 
So what keeps him motivated? 

“I focus on developing solutions that ease or solve existing problems and when I succeed, the user satisfaction makes me happier and that is what I work for,” is the answer.

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