Category: Social innovations


India has some 40 to 80 million persons with various kinds of lower limb disabilities. Wheelchairs are a very common mobility assistance system for people with lower limb disability. However wheelchairs cannot serve people with upper both upper and lower limb disability.

It  is suited for persons with both upper and lower limb disability. It is a battery driven wheelchair, which can be operated through joy stick or using tongue and head movements depending upon the kind of disability the person has. The chair sports sensors attached on the seat at the neck position and these can be operated by the movement of the neck to maneuver the wheelchair. Similarly the tongue may also be used to provide inputs to the wheelchair’s mechatronical system through sensors. It can also be easily elevated to a convenient height. This wheelchair facilitates easy movement for people with spinal injuries, as they can navigate it using their tongue.

The project team received the Gandhian Social innovations award at Gandhian Young Technology Awards 2012

Pratik Gandhi , Chintak Dholakia, Sumit Shatwara, Bhargav Desai, Priyesh Rajnikant, Vanraj Kamliya, LD College of Engineering
Project Guide: Prof BH Parmar 

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Lack of access to clean drinking water is a major problem in India. Jeevan Dhara is an innovative water purification system is a promising idea that aims to solve this problem by making a low cost water purification solution that uses electricity. It is still at a conceptual stage with only minimal testing.

Kirti Ranjan, Sankhya Mohanty, Sushant Sachan, IIT Kharagpur

Wheelchairs are extensively used by disabled people to enhance their personal mobility. One of the basic problems of user on manual wheelchair is overcoming architectural barriers like kerbs,stairs etc. on its way.

Vardaan facilitates climbing up and down the stairs by using an innovative ‘Y’ shaped wheel that provides better grip and optimum braking along with a ratchet and a braking system. The ‘Y’ shaped wheel has been designed to mimic the human gait while climbing up. For climbing up the user pulls and pushes the lever ratchet attached on the axle of the Y shaped wheel. The design makes use of the fact that people with lower limb disability have high upper body strength and therefore pulling/pushing the ratchet lever can be conveniently operated by them. While during the climbing down the user can use brakes to control the motion of the wheelchair as the ‘Y’ shaped wheel rolls down the steps.

The braking system along with the ‘Y’ shaped wheel is likely to make the wheelchair a safe solution for climbing stairs for the user. The initial prototype has been tested under various circumstances like step sizes of stairs, people with different weight (58 kg-89kg) and it has shown satisfactory results. The wheelchair can navigate stairs with 350-230 mm width and step heights from 110-185 mm. As per National Building Code Specifications for step sizes of staircase of public building VARDAAN can climb all the public stairs.

The project received Gandhian Young Technology Awards in April, 2012.

Shanu Sharma, IIT Kanpur
Project Guides: Dr. J Ramkumar, Dr. Satyaki Roy

Agarbatti making is a large industry in India employing 800,000 people. An agarbatti making worker- who are mostly women and children- has to bend down and work on a wooden board for 8 to 10 hours a day in order to roll 5,000 Agarbatti. This kind of hard labor leads to spinal pain, abdominal pain and pain in the hands and legs.

This prototype aims to mitigate this hardship of agarbatti workers through a low cost agarbatti maker which can be used at home also to make agarbattis. This machine is a low-cost, semi-automatic and hand driven machine which may double the production capacity. The machine is ergonomically designed to mitigate back pain and other spinal problems. Using this machine, a woman may be able to roll about 6000 sticks a day.
The prototype consists of a roller mechanism in which dough is fed. In the machine, the black agarbatti paste is flattened using calendar rolling systems. The flat paste is then cut into strips of required width using cutting roller, which is later wrapped around the bamboo stick using wooden roller.

The final assembly consists of rollers made up of wood, rubber conveyor belts, steel pipes. Therefore owing to the simple component and assembly the cost of final machine may be low.

The project received appreciation under the ‘More from less’ category at the Gandhian Young Technology Awards 2013.

Keshav G,IIT Gandhinagar
Project Guide: Prof Murali Damodaran, Prof. K. Sudhakar

Project Hope is an Image, Speech Recognition and Speech Synthesis system. It aims to aid people suffering from hearing and orating /vocal impairments.

Often people suffering from such disability have normal vision and therefore they are able to communicate through sign or gestures. This system through a webcam converts signs into text. The other person who may not know sign language can read this text. It can also be heard through text to speech. Further, when the other person speaks, the system will convert into a text which the deaf and dumb person can read,
Presently the system supports English. The device consists of a wearable camera along with speaker. The vocally disabled person can keep his hand in front of the camera and make gestures using sign language. The camera may capture the gestures and the onboard electronic system will identify and convert the gestures into text. The Onboard voice synthesizer will convert the text into voice. For the hearing disabled the onboard system may record the external voice and convert the same into text that will be displayed for the user.

The device may be lightweight and therefore the user may wear the system on his body. The innovators are also in process of developing a Gestural API, so those using this platform can directly proceed to make use of the platform’s functionality. The team needs support to make the functionalities more smooth, develop viable prototypes and take it to market.

Saurabh Saket and Rahul Ranjan , Bhutta College of Engineering & Technology, Ludhiana
Punjab Technological University

Project Guide: Er Inderdeep Singh Grewal