Innovations galore at IISc design fest

From a flight simulator controlled by eye gaze to a device to help one-handed women to put on sanitary napkins on their own, the annual design festival of the Centre for Product Design and Manufacturing (CPDM), Indian Institute of Science, began on Friday by showcasing simple, elegant solutions to societal problems.

The students who presented their work at the event — Ripples 2017 — are undergoing Master of Design (M. Des.) or M. Tech by Research and PhD at CPDM.

“Although the focus of the course has been on form and functionality, it is to the credit of our students that they often choose to work on problems that exist in society,” said B. Gurumoorthy, professor at CPDM. “Many of the prototypes developed are in the field of assistive technology, improving farm productivity, water conservation and mobility,” he said.

Amaresh Chakrabarti, professor and chairman, CPDM, said, “We tell the students to find a problem, solve it, show that it works, and take it to society. A third of our products gets patented and about 10 % of students go on to incubate and work as startups.”

Eye control

Imagine you are a pilot on a mission or a commercial pilot with the lives of a hundred passengers in your hands. The three seconds it takes to take your eyes off the screen to push a control stick can be a matter of life or death.

A laboratory with CPDM has developed an idea that could reduce this time by half. They’ve developed a flight simulator setup which can respond to the eye’s gaze to control the cursor on screen.

J. Rajesh, a research student with CPDM, said this technology could improve accuracy and response time. “While using a joystick would take two to three seconds, eye control can quicken response time to as little as 1.5 seconds,” he said.

Personalised cooling

A tabletop cooler designed by Lopamudra Choudhury and Kavya Gandhe, second-year M.Des. students, uses ice packed in bottles and a low RPM fan to cool the immediate surroundings. “It makes more sense to cool the immediate environment than the whole room,” said Ms. Gandhe.

Another project by two former students uses a similar method to make a ‘cooling blanket’. “We found that while most households do not have an air conditioner, most have refrigerators which could be used to freeze ice,” said prototype designer Samrat Sankhya of the 2016 batch. The blanket also has a sensor to sense ambient temperature and maintain an optimum cooling level.

Helping hand

M. Des. students Suyog Dhanwade and Shubham Pudke have tried to make a device that would help women with only one hand put on sanitary napkins on their own.

“During our initial survey, we asked women to try putting on sanitary napkins with one hand and tell us the problems they faced,” said Shubham. Difficulty in proper alignment and support were the main issues. “We made a platform that can be kept under the legs, and using its support, the napkin could be placed in position,” he said. The idea was presented at the NordDesign competition in Norway last year.

Among the displays was a self-raising chair that would help elders to get up without putting pressure on their knees. The seat of the chair rises to an inclination with the press of a button.

Other projects included a portable vaccine carrier, a self-rocking cradle, mechanical pepper picker, an electric lamp that changes shape, and a stretcher-cum-wheelchair that can be used to navigate small spaces.

(Originally published here.)

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