How often do you chance upon a cutting-edge invention worked upon by a team of twenty-something-year old innovators while casually browsing through the tech section of your news daily? Every alternate day, perhaps? It makes one ponder on what happens to these avant garde technologies that attempt to revolutionize our everyday experiences. Here’s a quick round-up on the status quo of some inventions that have seen the light of day, contrived by students hailing from the technology powerhouse, the Indian Institute of Technology.
SAFER – is a wearable safety device that allows you to a send an SOS alert during a crisis. The actual safety device is concealed in a pendant or bracelet which on being pressed twice sends a message alert to the user’s guardians. Its USP lies in the fact that the clients are able to discreetly send out a message during an emergency without fumbling for their smartphones. Another important feature is ‘SAFER Walks’ that allows the client’s guardian to track him/her by sharing the former’s location as s/he ventures out by themselves. “The company’s mission is to make one million families safer by 2017”, according to reports.
Founded by: Leaf Wearables, an Indian startup, by five IIT Delhi graduates in 2015.
Status Update: They have sold up to 6000 units so far and haven’t encountered a potentially dangerous situation yet.
Current Client Base: Everyone who seeks security in style.
Cost: INR 1499
NETRA – It is a user-friendly, portable quad – copter UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) which can be made to fly over a specified area up to a height of 400 m while it sends continuous real-time videos of every activity occurring within a radius of 8 km. “The UAV is capable of operating in all the conflict theatres, including urban quarters, in a situation similar to that of the 26/11 terror attacks,” says DRDO scientist Dr. Alok Mukherjee according to reports.
Founded by: ideaForge, a team of IIT - Mumbai graduates in 2007.
Status Update: It is used for border and traffic monitoring besides counter-insurgency operations. It has been utilized in various search and rescue operations during Uttarakhand landslide, Nepal earthquake, Pathankot terror attack besides being employed during Ardh Kumbh Mela in Haridwar, Maha Kumbh Mela in Ujjain, Sabrimala Temple and South Asian games in Assam.
Current Client Base: Indian Defense Forces & Labs, Central Armed Police Forces, State Police Forces
SmartCane – This device is an electronic travel aid which fits on the top fold of the white cane used by visually impaired individuals. It serves as an enhancement to the white cane and overcomes its limitations by detecting above-knee obstacles that are suspended from mid-air, such as protruding air conditioners, tree branches. These obstacles can often cause serious upper body injuries to the visually challenged. The cane has other uses as a spatial awareness device as it can detect the presence of objects in the vicinity. Reportedly, “It uses ultrasonic technology used in radars to identify the objects and obstacles around the person.”
Founded by: IIT Delhi, which began working on the technology in 2005 and launched the product in April 2014. Company name is Assistive Technologies Group (Assistech).
Status Update: They have sold up to 15,000 – 20,000 units of the product, both nationally as well as internationally (Japan, Thailand, Mauritius, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka and Iran)
Current Client Base: End users, donors to organizations and institutions of the visually impaired and government bodies that donate these devices to the needy under security schemes.
Cost: INR 3000
TrueHb Hemometer – The device is meant to be used for the quantitative measurement of haemoglobin in blood samples and its USP is its pocket-friendly size as compared to the bulkier complete blood count (CBC) machines. The device has been validated by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences for its efficacy. "It will be very useful on the field for health workers, blood banks, primary health centres, the school health scheme of the government, and all point of care use, including for use at home," says a report.
Founded by: Ambar Srivastava of Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi in March 2014.
Current Client Base: A crucial purpose of this device is to test people for anaemia. It is helpful for pregnant and menstruating women, thalassemic people and chemotherapy patients.
Cost: INR 25,000 as compared to the CBC machine at INR 2-10 lakh
Ather S340 – India’s first smart electric two-wheeler. The Ather-S340 is a connected vehicle powered by a lithium-ion battery pack, and features a digital touchscreen dashboard, a lightweight aluminium chassis. It can reach speeds of 72 kmph and the vehicle charges up to 80 per cent in less than an hour. Its touchscreen dashboard contains a Vehicle Control Unit (diagnostic system) that constantly monitors the rider’s behavior, a GPS, and an indicator showing how much distance can be travelled on the remaining charge. The inbuilt navigation uses data to not only predict the time taken to reach a destination but to also analyze the road conditions.
Founded by: IIT Madras alumni Tarun Mehta and Swapnil Jain in 2013. Company name is Ather Energy.
Current Client Base: Soon to hit the market. The founders claim that their early buyers would be technology enthusiasts as per a report.
Cost: INR 1 Lakh