Technology Innovations

Archive for the ‘2015’ Category


Bulbh1

Bulbh: A micro-USB powered light

Bangalore-based Aditya Agarwal (23) has created a coin-sized micro-USB powered 1.2 watt white LED bulb, called Bulbh, that emits twice the light than a one watt compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb.

Created and designed at Aditya’s startup My Dream Bird, the Bulbh is a small, slim, micro-USB powered light that has a light emitting capacity of 120-130 lumens as compared to 60 lumens per watt of a CFL and 12-17 lumens per watt of an incandescent lamp. It can be used as an emergency light, a cycle light, night light, in wardrobes, for photography, or as a helmet light.

This September Aditya plans to launch Bulbh in a ‘buy one, donate one’ model where every Bulbh that is sold online, one unit will get donated in India to the communities that are still using incandescent bulbs to reduce their cost of living.

Why it matters

The traditional incandescent yellow light bulbs are much less efficient than other types of electric lighting; they use less than five percent of energy into visible light, converting the rest into heat. Though the manufacturing cost of incandescent bulbs is less, its low light emitting capacity and high power consumption factors have led the European Union, China, Canada and United States to consider phasing it out. India too is slowly moving towards banishing the incandescent bulbs.

As incandescent lamps phase out, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that are being assembled into a light bulb. Like incandescent lamps, and unlike CFL lamps, LEDs come to full brightness without the need for a warm-up time. They have a lifespan and electrical efficiency that is significantly better than the rest.

The LED lamp market is projected to grow multi-fold over the next decade, to $25 billion by 2023 (see source). Aditya’s Bulbh taps into this emerging market.

Speaking of the micro-USB powered light, he says, “The Bulbh can be powered by any micro-USB chord that can be connected to a power source such as a mobile device adapter, a power bank, a personal computer or a laptop. It has been ergonomically designed for use in various conditions and emits bright light. It is specifically targeted for mobile phone users of the world who already have micro-USB adapters.” This is a large user base. According to a report, the number of mobile phone users in the world is likely to reach almost 5.3 billion by 2017.

The Bulbh

The Bulbh: Inside out

The Bulbh: Inside out

To make Bulbh emit light uniformly in all directions, the product has been given a custom casing of silicon and thermoplastic alloy. The casing also prevents Bulbh from heating up, even after 24 hours of continuous use. A tiny circuit of LEDs lies inside the enclosure.

To achieve the color rendering index (CRI) of 80, which is equivalent to any CFL, and twice the lumens per watt than a CFL, Aditya has created Bulbh by using six 0.2 watt Everlight LEDs, each with a capacity of emitting 24 lumens of light. All LEDs have been placed in a series on an aluminum-core printed circuit board that maintains the circuit temperature uniformly.

The circuit comprises a dedicated high-frequency DC-DC converter that operates as a constant-current source. There is provision for high switching frequency that regulates the amount of inrush current and prepares the circuit for a soft start. This also prevents the circuit from over-voltage, short-circuit and over-temperature incidents.

On the outside, each Bulbh is fitted with a neodymium magnetic base so that the users can stick it on any metal surface. Initially, My Dream Bird plans to provide two extra magnetic stickers with the product so users can stick it to metal, stone wall, wood, ceramic or glass.

With its coin-sized smooth form factor, Bulbh looks sleek. The tiny lamp, with a rounded shape similar to that of an Indian sweet called ‘batasha’, is just 0.6 inches in height and 1.3 inches in width, and weighs between 30-35 grams.

Buy One, Donate One

As Bulbh finds its users in the market, Aditya plans to execute his ‘buy one, donate one’ campaign simultaneously. “The idea of donating Bulbh occurred to me when I saw hawkers in Kolkata selling their goods under candle light. I found out that they do not buy incandescent bulbs or CFLs as they get heated up and they cannot afford LED lights. Hence, for each Bulbh that is sold online, I plan to donate one to such communities and users in India,” explains Aditya. Initially, he plans to sell Bulbh through popular e-commerce channels in the U.S. and the European Union countries.

 

 

My Dream Bird has collaborated with non-governmental organizations such as Goonj, Smile Foundation, Round Table India, and HelpAge India to ensure donated Bulbh lamps reach hawkers, students, underprivileged children and the elderly communities in India.

Next Step

Bulbh will be launched in the U.S. and European markets by September 2015. Once he is able to raise $400,000 funding, Aditya plans to open-source the project.

For more details, contact Aditya at aa@mydreambird.com or visit the Bulbh website.


The Colored Yarn prototype

The Colored Yarn prototype

In an attempt to give an innovative twist to the age-old spinning wheel (charkha), students at the MIT Media Lab India Design Innovation Workshop have created a prototype that can color the yarn on the fly!

The project, Colored Yarn, has been created to provide technology advantage to the weaver community of India.

The Spinning Wheel

Charkha is one of the oldest known forms of the spinning wheel. It works with a drive wheel being turned by hand, while the yarn is spun off the tip of the spindle. It is a small, portable, hand-cranked wheel that is ideal for spinning cotton and other fine fibers. Mostly, the charkha is used for spinning cotton and the hand spun cloth is called Khadi in the Indian peninsula.

According to the Handloom Census of India 2009-10, India has about 29 lakh handloom workforce working on 23.77 lakh looms across household and non-household handloom units. About seven percent of the 20.91 lakh working household looms continue to use the hand spun yarn, supporting the Khadi programme. The most extensive use has been observed in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka where 30.1 percent and 24.4 percent looms operate with hand spun yarn, respectively.

It is for the community of weavers who provide hand spun yarn for the looms that the young innovators wanted to change the traditional way the charkha works.

The Colored Yarn

Team 2GB students Monica and Lavanya with Mentor Artem Dementyev

Team 2GB students Monica and Lavanya with Mentor Artem Dementyev

Attendra Sharma (20) of the Institute of Hotel Management, Gandhinagar along with Monica J. (21) of PESIT University, Bangalore, and Lavanya Gupta (20) of Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology, Gandhinagar, have developed an innovative prototype of the charkha that allows for the yarn to be colored on the fly.

The trio developed the project as part of the ‘Sensors Across Scale’ track at the 2015 MIT Media Lab India Design Innovation Workshop that was held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, in January. While the track focused on building new sensor systems working across scales, it also encouraged innovations that “affect human relationships and social problems”.

The 2GB team (two girls and a boy), as they called it, focused on innovating with the spinning wheel not with the sensors but by using basic components such as the box charkha, a pulley, a coloring unit, and a spool.

The team used a briefcase charkha that weighs just about 1.4 kilograms. Here’s how it works:

  • A tightly rolled tube of cotton, called pooni, is one of the ways to fine and even spinning. Weavers can make poonis from pre-carded cotton by laying a thin layer of cotton on a flat surface and rolling it around a thin stick and compressing it with hands.
  • For proper tension, the spindle support post must be positioned far enough so that the spindle drive cord holds it vertical. Also, the post base should be angled so that, when the spindle is spinning freely, its pulley rotates midway between the post arms, not touching either one.
  • For the first time, a leader is added to each spindle to help start the spinning process. The drive wheels turn together smoothly and the tension of the thread gets adjusted by moving the small wheel.
  • A spinner begins on this apparatus by drawing out the yarn to arm’s length with one hand while turning the big wheel clockwise with the other hand. The trick is to coordinate the speed of the draw with the speed of wheel turning, so that the yarn holds together but not too much twist travels up into the cotton in one’s hand. (Source: http://www.markshep.com/peace/Charkha.html.)

The 2GB team introduced a coloring unit as an attachment to the briefcase charkha. As a spinner spins, the plain thread passes through the unit where color is dropped on the thread through a funnel, producing a clean, dry, dyed hand spun yarn.

“This is a new and unique use of technology on a traditional product. The process of spinning the yarn and then dyeing it in a color of choice is a five-day process. Our prototype not only allows the weavers to color the yarn within a few seconds, but also provides them the freedom to experiment with different colors of their choice for the hand spun fabric, without much dependency on the dyeing process. By making minimal changes in the charkha, we have tried to retain the authenticity of the product and yet modernize it enough to save the art,” said Lavanya and Attendra who conceptualized and engineered the prototype.

The team plans to improve upon the design and function of the coloring unit to create a final product.

To know more about the Colored Yarn prototype, write to lavanya181194@gmail.com or attendra.ihma@gmail.com.

(This article is part of a series on innovations presented at the 2015 MIT Media Lab India Design Innovation Workshop.)


BloodBag_470At the 2015 MIT Design Innovation workshop, a MIT Media Lab India initiative, a group of students and professionals has created a mobile application called Blood Collective that allows those in need of blood to search for voluntary blood donors available in the vicinity.  

The team developed the application prototype at the 2015 MIT Design Innovation Workshop in Gandhinagar as part of the Civic Innovation track which focused on building “the tools that help change the world together”and “a better technological infrastructure to support the engaged citizens who are already acting to make their communities better, and inspire others to join them”.

The home screen of Blood Collective app

The home screen of Blood Collective app

Combining different skills, each team member contributed differently to create the alpha version of the app and test it during the workshop. While IT industry professional Pragnendra Rahevar (32) floated the idea and shared the concept, National Institute of Design graduate Akshah Ish (27) designed the complete user interface of the application. The core development of the app has been done by Ayush Sharma (20) of Arya College of Engineering and IT, Jaipur, with necessary research and support provided by Abhimanyu Kumar (20) of Haldia Institute of Technology, West Bengal. 

Bridging the Gap

Voluntary blood donation is considered the highest form of humanitarian service as it is done without the expectation of knowing who it will eventually help. Each unit of blood donation helps many patients as blood is usually segregated into RBCs, Platelets, WBCs and Plasma and given away as per requirement. But then there are yet not enough people who opt to donate blood. 

In India there is constant shortage of blood. According to a 2012 World Health Organization (WHO), every country needs at least a one percent blood reserve. India, with its 1.2 billion population, needs 12 million units of blood annually but collects only nine million of which 70 percent is from voluntary blood donors while the remaining 30 percent is from family/replacement donors.  

Even though most blood collection is done from voluntary donors, the voluntary blood donors network remains fragmented and inaccessible to a large community at the time of need. The Blood Collective smartphone application aims to tap into this existing network of blood donors and bring them at your fingertips. 

“In India it is just a chance that you will get blood when you need it. Some people do not want to donate blood, while some who are willing to do it find it frustrating to go to the blood banks criteria, fill forms and donate. Tapping into the community of voluntary blood donors therefore remains a challenge. The current gap between the demand for blood and its supply also leaves scope for touts, agents and illegal, unsafe blood donation. Paid blood donation is illegal in India.  Our application targets the problem in a simple manner – if you need blood, connect directly with multiple blood donors close by and see if any of them is willing to offer help,” explains Ayush.

How it works

During the workshop the alpha version of the Indian-centric app was hosted on local servers and directly uploaded to a few mobile phones. However, based on the feedback from mentors and users, with the help of a few volunteers the team is now developing the beta version of the app. 

The app is expected to function like this: The first time the user accesses the application, she will be requested to select from the two categories “I want blood” or “I want to volunteer”. Once a voluntary blood donor selects the latter option, her name and number gets registered in the database. However, for safety reasons, the name and number of the donor is not shared with the requester. Rather, when the requester searches for a donor in the vicinity, she can view profile icons of the available donors and can send a request to them through the app. The requester’s number is sent to the donor and the decision to respond entirely rests with the donor.

The map feature shows the requester available blood donors in the vicinity

The map feature shows the requester available blood donors in the vicinity

The volunteer category also enables the voluntary blood donors to see all requests, allowing the user to contact the requester directly and offer blood donation. 

“The most important aspect of the app is to generate awareness about safety of blood donation and encourage volunteering. Currently, whenever people need blood, they either opt to call, send SMS or post on social networking websites. The wait for a response is stressful. At blood banks, if you have donated blood in past six months, you may be charged around Rs. 1,400 per unit. If you haven’t, the chances of getting blood are dismal. The solution to all this is volunteered blood donation. Bringing volunteer blood donors closer to the needy therefore could be very helpful and that is the focus of the Blood Collective app. Using the app, both a volunteer and a requester can save lives,” explains Pragnendra who has been volunteering with a non-profit organization for over three years, organizing blood donation camps across the country. 

Next Steps

The team is developing the beta version of the app and improving its user interface, adding more features to it, and carrying out basic user testing. It is expected to be available on the Web and on Google Play store by May 2015. The group is looking for more volunteers with specialized skills to develop the application for the iOS and Windows platforms. 

The Blood Collective mobile app has a huge social potential to connect and build a large network of voluntary blood donors with the requesters, allowing the common man to save lives and be human. However, it needs to build on its unique aspects that will differentiate it from the existing apps. 

To know more about Blood Collective, contact pragnendra@gmail.com.

(This article is part of a series on innovations presented at the 2015 MIT Media Lab India Design Innovation Workshop.)


Series: MIT Design Innovation Workshop 2015

A team of three students, Shreyas Kapur (16) of Modern School, New Delhi, Kaustubh Shivdikar (20) of Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute, Mumbai, and International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore alumnus Nitesh Kadyan (25), recently created a three-dimensional (3-D) printer that can print using fabric.

As part of the Smart Textiles track at the recent 2015 MIT Design Innovation Workshop, the team has developed a prototype of the 3-D fabric printer using the RepRap open-source hardware and software.

Prototype of 3-D Fabric Printer by Team Squeeshy

Prototype of 3-D Fabric Printer by         Team Squeeshy

3-D Printing

3-D printing is primarily a process that is used to make a three-dimensional object. The printer uses additive manufacturing over the traditional subtractive manufacturing.

In subtractive manufacturing, the excess material is milled or subtracted using a milling machine to get the desired shape. In additive manufacturing, however, the 3-D printer produces successive layers of the desired material under computer control until the entire object is created, preventing wastage of material. The objects printed by a 3-D printer, therefore, can be of almost any shape or geometry.

The Prototype

The focus of the Smart Textiles track at the MIT Workshop was to reimagine “the seamless integration of textiles with electronic elements like micro-controllers, sensors, and actuators”. Even though the use of 3-D printers is now being explored in several areas such as healthcare, automobiles, manufacturing, food, and consumer goods, using the technique to print fabric samples is a less explored area as of today.

With the prototype, the trio explore a mix of 3-D printing and conductive thread that can allow users to print circuits inside wearable fabric. On a simpler and lighter note, the 3-D fabric printer could allow users to print soft toys at home!

How It Works

The process of 3-D printing comprises three stages:

  1. Creating the 3-D printable design model of the desired object with a computer aided design (CAD) software.
  2. The file of the model is converted into a .STL or .OBJ format that is readable to the printing software.
  3. The converted file is processed by a software called Slicer which converts the 3-D model into multiple thin 2-D layers and produces a G-code that contains instructions tailored to a 3-D printer.

Once the G-code is generated, the 3-D printer lays down successive 2-D layers of the input material (plastic, resin and even food pastes like chocolate) to create the 3-D model from a series of cross sections. This laying down happens in different ways for different materials. For example, plastic requires a heating extruder to melt it and extrude, while resin requires a laser beam to cure it. The layers, which correspond to the virtual cross sections from the CAD model, are joined or automatically fused to create the final shape.

 

Nitesh Kadyan at the 2015 MIT Design Innovation Workshop

Nitesh Kadyan at the 2015 MIT Design  Innovation Workshop

To create the 3-D fabric printer prototype, the team has followed a similar process but instead of using the hot extruder that is used in plastic printing, it used a felting needle which moved up and down through a thick foam base. Here is how the prototype works: the felting needle is connected to wool and the up-down movement pushes the wool inside the foam base. The movement of the base in the 2-D space provides shape to a layer and the process continues til the final object is created. To do this, the team used an old 3-D printer and custom-made a felting needle which used wool as the primary input.

There are multiple use cases for the prototype. “Just imagine if you can print soft toys for your kids at your home. Imagine if you have a washable sensor-based circuit inside your t-shirt which is connected to LEDs to tell you if it’s going to rain or not in your area. Another example could be a health monitoring shirt which can read our pulse rate. All this could be possible if we have a 3-D printer that prints with soft materials like wool or with conductive thread. Possibilities are endless,” says Nitesh.

Next Steps
A similar experiment has been done by students at Carnegie Mellon University and by the Walt Disney Company. However, both were proprietary experiments. Team Squeeshy aims to contact the RepRap team and work with them to build the prototype further, improve its felting mechanism, performance and design, and make the project open source.

To contact the innovators, write to niteshkadyan@gmail.com.

This article is part of a series on innovations presented at the 2015 MIT Design Innovation Workshop.


A team of three students, Bisman Deu, Rayvin Thingnam, and Ekambir Singh, has invented “Green Wood” made out of recycled rice husks and straw that could be used an as alternative building material. 

Majority of the world’s population eat rice as a staple food, and the crop dominates cereal production in many developing countries. The threshing of rice produces unwanted husks and straw, and the options for disposal are limited: burning, composting or feeding to animals on the farm. The residues have no commercial value and therefore the farmers end up burning the rice waste – causing air pollution, killing crop-friendly insects and making the topmost layer of soil partially infertile due to loss of nutrients.

As a cost-effective solution to this, the three-member team used rice husks and straw as the raw material, mixed the waste with a resin, and pressed the mixture into particle boards. The new particle boards are fungi- and mould-proof, waterproof, and affordable.

The innovation addresses many challenges such as reducing deforestation and pollution, providing extra source of income for farmers, and providing an environment-friendly, low-cost alternative material for building houses and furniture. Read more

Source: Guardian and Unicef 


Bangalore-based RightCloudz Technologies has developed a new evaluation methodology that offers comparison and evaluation of cloud vendors based on the enterprise customer’s specific business needs.

With the increasing number of cloud services and vendors, enterprises find it challenging to not only purchase the right type of cloud for their specific requirements, but also to identify a suitable vendor that can offer better returns on investment. Scientific and rational comparison of vendors and their services can therefore become a daunting task for cloud consumers.

RightCloudz Technologies, a cloud intelligence startup by four cloud professionals of the city’s IT industry, has developed a proprietary software based on its evaluation methodology called RankCloudz. The application offers comparison and evaluation of cloud vendors based on the customer’s specific business needs. RankCloudz incorporates static and dynamic information about the world’s major cloud vendors and their services. Using this information, the software application enables comparison and evaluation of cloud vendors based on the enterprise’s business and technical priorities.

Vikas Mathur, Sreehari Narasipur and Subhranshu Banerjee co-founded RightCloudz Technologies in early 2013 with Archana Nukal joining the team in mid-2014. In November 2014, the company launched the first online beta version of RankCloudz for enterprises. In the beta phase, the startup has released Web-based, customized cloud recommendations reports comprising detailed analysis of cloud vendors along with qualitative information on each listed vendor. The reports capture the results of online interactive visualizations which help enterprises in evaluating major cloud vendors for a wide range of business scenarios. Read full report on page 2

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