Published: 10th September 2020
B Tech students invent low-cost tech innovations for visually-impaired and elderly
The two main innovations were entries for a competition organised by IIT Delhi titled Social Innovation Challenge for the Elderly, from which they then got selected
Rajkumari Sharma Tankha, Two B Tech students from Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi have developed tech innovations, one each for the elderly and for the visually-challenged. The innovations, Sahayak-The Smart Walking Stick and E-Vision- the low-cost Electronic Braille Device, were created by Arjun Raj and Raghul PK.
These innovations were their entries for a competition organised by IIT Delhi titled Social Innovation Challenge for the Elderly, which then got selected. "Until now, we have only reached the stage of raw prototyping wherein we use basic items to model the real prototype to exhibit the functionalities but modelling a real prototype will require continuous research and work for at least six months so that we could bring out a highly efficient and user friendly model," says Raj, adding that the pandemic halted their research, which they hope to get back to soon.
Sahayak is a smart stick that comes with a variety of hi-tech features, the most important being a vacuum cup-based gripper at the bottom to prevent slipping on wet surfaces by providing a firm grip. "Also, with Sahayak, the user doesn't have to bend down to pick up an object as the stick has an object grabber to grab small objects from the ground. It will be of great use to people with chronic back pain," says Raj. The other important features include an SOS button accompanied with GSM module, which when pressed sends an SMS alert to the family members and ring an alarm to alert them.
"It also has an object reminder based on RFID technology. The personal belongings can be inserted with an RFID tag while the RFID reader is embedded in the stick. So to find their stuff, the user just have to select its image from a mobile application and then walk around the house with the stick. Whenever you come near the object the beeper will beep and the LED will start glowing," informs Raj, whose ambition is to work for making the life of senior citizens easy.
Just as Sahayak is for the elderly people, E-Vision is sure to make life easy for the over 13 million visually-challenged people across the country for whom access to quality education is still a dream due to the high cost of braille tools (embossers/printers/readers) and little availability of Braille books. "Rather than the individual braille dot actuation using piezo crystals which the modern-day electronic single-line braille displays, E-Vision uses a Single linear electromagnetic array that could raise a row of metallic dots. This electromagnetic array is moved across the screen using a Linear Actuation System, and in each row the required Braille dots are raised up by making the respective electromagnetic coils active. This happens for all the rows in the Braille surface, before the final full-screen image/ text is displayed," says Raghul.
"The cost of this device would be less than Rs 10,000 as compared to multiline braille readers that cost lakhs of rupees, thus making quality education affordable and accessible," he adds, adding that it will help visually challenged user to interact with the data on screen, just like how a person with good eyesight uses his/her smartphone. "Actually, I started working on an accessible device for the visually challenged when I was in class 10. But the idea of E-Vision struck during the Ideathon conducted by our college E-Cell where I presented the idea along with my friends Vijay and Arham. Originally it was meant to be a device that would make images accessible for the visually challenged. But 6-7 versions and 8 months later, I managed to develop the basic prototype that I had envisioned," says Raghul, who aims to become a social inventor.