Normally we end up knowing about an innovation only after it becomes a mass commercial product. It is hard to find an idea that is in the making, since ideators are either secretive about their work or they can only showcase it only after it has crossed the feasibility threshold. So where do we find out about various innovations just when are being made or when they take their first pilot project?
Another thing is India is known for its Jugaad innovations where innovators do-it-yourself (DIY) some interesting ideas at home. Is there a place where we see them all together and check out their commercial possibilities?
The Bengaluru Mini Maker Faire 2016 attempted to do just that. Workbench Projects in association with Make magazine brought together a diverse range of Indian inventors who are creating something in their garage and persuaded them to showcase their ideas to public. This event was inspired by the Maker Faire event that was first held in California a decade ago, which has now become a global phenomenon.
Right from a 14 year old school kid to a 65 year old scientist, the vast age difference of some of the innovators was mind boggling! This showed that age is not a barrier for passion and there is a DIY maker culture catching up in our country. Each stall was hugely different from another and seemed like a handpicked assortment of the best maker projects seen around.
Looks like most automotive innovations in India are happening in engineering colleges! Students of Sri Sairam College of Engineering in Bengaluru showcased their prowess in various modes of vehicle transportation. The first was an electric bike completely made from scratch, which won the top prize at the Vishnu E-Moto Championship–2016, a national level e-bike contest. Their autonomous submarine technology demonstrator made from self-made components was truly fascinating since it manages to navigate itself under water and return to surface.
Upcycled Welava Design
Recycling is old fashioned; let’s move to funky upcycling! That’s the message from product designers at Welava Design. Bhawana and Abhishek have created ‘Punahveen’, a range of upcycled home décor products from waste plastic, glass, wood and tyres. Their designs are truly trendy and make upcycling a fun activity. In fact they enroll students for their various design workshops to reuse existing household material that would have been scrapped otherwise. Punahveen’s Tyrochairs made out of worn out tyres were the funkiest of them all!
One of the most appealing innovations on display was the DIY violin and guitar by Vasudev Ramachandra. Coming from a renowned classical musician family background, it was easy for Vasudev to pick music as a hobby. Having an engineering mind, he couldn’t stop at just learning music, but master the instrument he played. He found that while acoustic violins are affordable, electric violins are extremely costly in India. So Vasudev ventured out to create a DIY violin at home and soon tried his hand at producing a guitar as well. Now his company Reverb Instruments regularly takes orders for creating custom-made violins and guitars.
Air Ink is a unique way of tackling the air pollution problem by separating the carbon and using it as ink. Graviky Labs, which was founded by Anirudh Sharma with Nikhil Kaushik and Nitesh Kadyan, thought of this idea of using carbonaceous material as a pigment for coloring by bringing designers, chemists, and automobile experts. Their product Kaalink is retrofitted to vehicle exhaust pipes to capture the soot emitted. Later the soot undergoes chemical processing to remove heavy metals and carcinogens to produce final output of purified carbon pigment – a core ingredient used in making ink and paints.
A bunch of college students surrounded a booth to listen in rapt attention to an old man. Ajoy Raman must be the oldest innovator showcased at Bengaluru Mini Maker Faire. After retiring as a scientist with 37 years of R&D experience at the Aeronautical Development Establishment, Ajoy Raman couldn’t sit idle at home. Being passionate about engineering education, he began working on creating low-cost teaching aids for students. His innovations are – a USB connected student oscilloscope in a matchbox, a failed computer hard-disk converted into a circular chart recorder, an inductance capacitance LC-meter in a soap box!
A young kid named Ajay Gopi from Project DEFY presented an interesting idea – using bamboo as pipes to install interesting home décor lights and chandeliers. The kid had drilled holes through bamboo sticks to pass electric wires and fix lamps. Another kid named Deepika Ram showcased her junk jewelry made from semi-precious stones. When I wondered how these kids had come up with such interesting ideas at such a young age, I was told that they are from Project DEFY, a unique project by Abhijit Sinha of a peer-to-peer learning model for skill development among village kids.
Heard of Origami… then how about Kirigami?! VSS Shastry and SF Huseni presented this unique Japanese art of paper art. VSS Shastry holds the record for the highest units of origami sculpture at Deutsche bank Bangalore in the year 2010 in the Limca book of records. Origami is the art of paper folding to create interesting shapes and forms, but it doesn’t allow us to cut paper with scissors or blade. Kirigami is all about cutting paper to create attractive shapes and designs.
Vinay Kothari, Ahindrila Das and Hemanth Kamath has created a range of eco-friendly pet accessories named Poko Pets. Typically most dog collars and belts are made of plastic or synthetic material. Dogs tend to chew on such collars and tear them. So he ideated on dog tags and belts made from jute and metal, since dogs don’t chew on jute. Jute belts are double stitched with thick cotton threads to ensure strength and durability. Poko Pets also has a range of pet name plates and fridge magnets with cute messages. However, the high cost of ownership could be a hurdle for mass acceptance.