These are not the whimsical ideas of crazy minds. On the contrary, these are among the six innovative projects coming straight from some of the brightest engineering students in Kerala.
The projects were selected for further development after a unique, first ever talent hunt jointly held by Kochi-based Startup Village, India's first telecom incubator, and the Kerala Chapter of IEEE Communication Society (ComSoc) to identify innovative projects in communication technologies and applications by the engineering students of the state and pitch them on the growth orbit.
"We selected these projects not only for their innovativeness but also for their usefulness for the masses," Mr. Sanjay Vijayakumar, chairperson of the Governing Board of Startup Village, said. "We are sure that these ideas would soon translate into successful technologies with proven commercial applications."
Conceived by five students of Sahrdaya College of Engineering Technology, Kodakara in Thrissur, the ‘Intelligent Wheelchair' can be operated through eye movements, voice or a lever so that even a physically challenged, dumb or blind person can operate it. Sensors to detect hazards, SMS alerts to get connected with the patient, and a device to monitor physiological conditions and inform the doctor will be other smart options of this wheelchair.
‘Smartmotive', developed by students of Government Engineering College, Thrissur, is a standing wheelchair that helps a paralyzed person to stand up from the seating position. Since its every movement is controlled by retinal movements or facial commands or sound, it can be operated by people suffering from any kind of paralysis.
Another interesting project is the ‘SMS Vehicle Locating Solution', which will save passengers from the ordeal of endless waiting to hire an auto-rickshaw. In many cases, a vacant auto might be roaming around just around the corner unaware of a commuter's presence. The solution by a team from College of Engineering, Thiruvanantahpuram, aims to eliminate the need to wait as commuters can send SMS alerts to auto drivers pinpointing their location in plain text as well as an identifiable landmark location code to the designated number. All auto rickshaw drivers operating in the area will be notified with the fare details.
While current solutions require the use of expensive smart phones and Global Positioning Systems, the proposed system is designed to function on basic feature phones that support SMS functionality.
S.T.A.R.K (Scientifically Trained Arm-Robotic Kinesis), proposed by a group of students of Mar Baselios College of Engineering and Technology, is a battery-powered, lightweight exoskeletal framework of an arm to provide support, or to enhance the physical capabilities of the wearer. It promises applications to people whose work involve lifting heavy weights, people at potentially dangerous workspaces or those who have lost a limb.
Project Haritha (hybrid automated remote irrigation technique for agriculture), is a user-friendly automated solar powered irrigation system for home gardens. The idea for the project was mooted by the students of Sree Chitra Thirunal College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram.
Another shortlisted project is ‘Tarang', which is a technique to convert mechanical effort of any sort into electrical energy. Developed by the students of SCMS School of Engineering and Technology, Karukutty in Ernakulam, it is a compact device which allows users to convert any 'weird' mechanical energy source into electrical energy without any modifications to the apparatus.
The system is as compact as a water bottle and as light as a book. It is expected to be more efficient than the conventional ones.Mr. Vijayakumar said Startup Village would extend 50 per cent of the total project cost of Rs. 254,000 to incubate these ideas.
"We will also provide technical assistance for groups working on speech recognition by introducing them to Nuance, the world leader in Speech Recognition technologies, and powering solutions like Siri in Iphone. Those groups working on sensor-based device will be introduced to Wi-finity, a company based in Bengaluru," he pointed out.
Mr. Sijo Kuruvilla George, Startup Village CEO, said the programme was intended to ignite the passion for technology among the students and also to transform the young talents of Kerala into entrepreneurs. "We covered all the 164 engineering colleges in the state in this drive to spot the bright minds and novel ideas that can be the game changers tomorrow,'' he added.
Besides partial funding, Startup Village will also provide a slew of perks like platform to incubate the idea and an opportunity to showcase the projects before Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan.
"The Kerala Chapter of ComSoc is committed to provide technical and funding support to innovative projects in the area of communication. All the six projects selected this year are innovative and would benefit the masses," said Mr. Sasi PM, spokesman of ComSoc.
"Our collaboration with Startup Village will give a cutting edge not only to such projects but also kindle entrepreneurial instincts among young professionals," he added.Last year, ComSoc had provided support to eight innovative projects of the Kerala students.