New portable device can detect diabetes, kidney failure, chronic anemia, malnutrition

New portable device can detect diabetes, kidney failure, chronic anemia, malnutrition


Bangalore-based PathShodh Healthcare, a startup at the Entrepreneurship Centre of the Indian Institute of Science, has developed a hand-held device to measure eight vital parameters for diabetes, kidney failure, chronic anaemia, and malnutrition.

The device, called anuPath, has been developed by Dr. Vinay Kumar along with Professor Navakanta Bhat of Indian Institute of Science and a friend, Gautam Sharma.

According to a recent International Diabetes Federation (IDF) report, diabetes currently affects over 425 million people worldwide, and the figure is expected to reach 629 million by 2045. With 73 million diabetics, India ranks second in the world after China.

People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing a number of serious health problems. Consistently high blood glucose levels can lead to serious diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, nerves and teeth. In addition, people with diabetes also have a higher risk of developing infections, says the IDF report.

Currently, anuPath can test for hemoglobin, HbA1C, glycated albumin, blood glucose, serum albumin, microalbuminuria, urine ACR, and urine creatinine. It will be extendable to other markers (glycated albumin, serum creatinine, serum bilirubin, etc.) in the future. It works on a non-enzymatic- and non-antibody-based electrochemical biosensing technology. The measurement is done on electrochemical disposable test strips that contain a membrane infused with patented sensing substances. For each biomarker there is a separate disposable strip. When the user places the required sample on the electrochemical disposable test strip, anuPath detects the electrochemical outcomes and the deciphered results are displayed on the digital monitor within a minute. This enables the patient to get a comprehensive report of the status of the disease, which is essential in disease management. Read full research paper.

Presently, it can store one lakh patient reports, making it easier to share with doctors. With one international patent and eight in process, anuPath costs Rs. 50,000. The team is working on a cost effective model of about Rs. 5,000 – Rs. 10,000 for individual users to use it at home. Read more

Charkha Gets Innovative Twist to Produce Hand Spun Colored Yarn

Charkha Gets Innovative Twist to Produce Hand Spun Colored Yarn


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.)