‘Exhibition of Innovations' attempts to link inventors, end-users

The hardship faced by disabled persons while manoeuvring their wheelchairs, and the difficulty with which the speech-and hearing-impaired convey their needs inspired Susant Patnaik, a 17-year-old school boy from Orissa, to build a breathing sensor device to assist the differently-abled.

Resembling a plastic toy-chair mounted on a maze of wires with sensors, the device could well be a fanciful gizmo designed by school boys. But for its innovator, it is a means of empowering disabled people.

Based on breathing

“The super-brain modulator is based on the principle that breathing is something that everybody does. And the device relies on breathing for getting across the thoughts of the disabled and converts them into actions,” says Susant, who is awaiting a world patent for his innovation.

Two years went into designing the device, which will help physically challenged people perform tasks like switching on lights, reaching for a remote or communicating their needs.

Susant's innovation is among several others that are on display at the Rashtrapati Bhavan as part of an ‘Exhibition of Innovations,' inaugurated by President Pratibha Patil on Wednesday.

The first of its kind in the Rashtrapati Bhavan precincts, the exhibition is an attempt to forge a relationship between innovators and end-users.

Annasaheb Udgavi (76) from Karnataka — with his water gun christened ‘Chandraprabha' — has had no formal education, but the farmer, who is also a sculptor, persevered and came up with a rotor sprinkler that can irrigate large tracts of land with less water.

“One spray of the water gun is enough to irrigate one acre of land, and it takes just an hour,” Mr. Udgavi says, adding, “The cost of the equipment is a little over Rs. 4,000.”

From a sugarcane bud chipper from Madhya Pradesh to new varieties of rice, wheat and pigeon pea from Uttar Pradesh, to the two-wheeler-mounted utility device designed by Sheikh Jehangir of Maharashtra — which was included in the movie 3 Idiots — the exhibition has innovators from across the country showcasing their best.

C. Mallesham from Andhra Pradesh has come with a device that helps weavers, mostly women, spin a traditional Pochampalli silk sari in an hour and 30 minutes as against the usual four hours.

Also on display are a low-cost bamboo windmill designed by brothers Mohd. Mehtar and Mushtaq Ahmad from Assam, a herbal cocktail for pest control by Ishwar Singh of Haryana, and a sanitary napkin-making machine designed by A. Murruganathan from Tamil Nadu.

“We are trying to link up the entrepreneurs and the innovators to pave way for conversion of knowledge into products and services. We may also seek the assistance of the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises,” said Christy Fernandez, secretary to the President.

`Think innovatively'

Referring to the idea behind the exhibition, Mr. Fernandez said: “The President has always maintained that a business-as-usual approach is not enough. We will have to think and act differently and innovatively.

In her address to both Houses of Parliament recently, she announced the period from 2010-20 as the decade of innovation. And when she gave away the prizes at the National Innovation Foundation, she directed that the Rashtrapati Bhavan should “promote innovation in the country.”

The National Innovation Foundation and the Indian Agricultural Research Institute are participating in the exhibition, which will be open for public viewing from March 10 to March 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Entry is from Gate No.35 near North Avenue.

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