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Overcoming inertia: Children show the way for better safety

Sunday, 2 March 2014 - 7:53pm IST | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA

Most of us in India have seen the city bus drivers driving away even before the passengers have either boarded the bus or alighted. They are in rush to get the passengers before other buses get them. It doesn’t matter if some of the passengers get injured in the process. And what do we do after observing such problems? Nothing. Instead, we crib about it in our drawing rooms or office corridors. But thankfully, our children are not so patient with inefficiency any more. And that is the most redeeming thing we can say about our future.

R. Santhosh of class 11 from Tamil Nadu could not live with this problem any more and sent across his suggestion to the National Innovation Foundation (NIF) under the IGNITE competition. He suggested that a bus should not start when a passenger is trying to get on the bus.

Later, this idea was shared with the former president of the coach building association in Ludhiana. Hopefully, it will become a part of the standards so that no one ever falls just because the driver is in a hurry or the transport authorities do not care.

How would you like the idea if your television or computer screen switches off automatically to correct your sitting posture?

If the idea of Sunvi Agarwal of class 10 from Chandigarh converts this into a practical application, which is not difficult, you will not be able to avoid sitting in the right posture. Ideas from two groups of students have been given with slight variations.

While Sunvi suggest that there should be a sensor on the TV to judge the posture, Kulsoom Rizavi of class 5 from Lucknow, and Tarun Anand of class 10 from Ghaziabad, suggested that sensors should be there in the chair to check whether the person is sitting properly.

We are discussing this matter with a leading company in the field of embedded systems and hope to get working prototypes soon.  The patent applications in the above cases have been filed already by the NIF in the name of the children.  

Recently, 44 children from 17 states reflecting 26 ideas were awarded by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam at the IGNITE function at IIMA, which was organised by the NIF in collaboration with CBSE, the Honey Bee Network and other institutions.

Many of us have old parents or other members at home who may have difficulty in walking. There may be nobody else to look after them in case of an emergency. To solve this problem, Soumya Ranjan Behera of class 7 from Jagatisinghpur, sent an idea that if somebody in such a situation falls down due to a seizure or any other reason, then a device attached to the body should immediately inform the pre-selected person, who can rush to their help.

Who has not lost concentration in the class or in a meeting once in a while? A little effort is required to regain the focus. Sometimes, the detour is longer.  In order to overcome this, Rudra Prasad Goswam of class 11 from Jharkhand has given an idea of a pen that will emit light signals if the hand’s grip gets loosened because of losing concentration. I am sure many teachers and students would love the idea.

Further, Santosh Singh and Khushwant Roy of class 12 from Jalandar, have converted a dot matrix printer into a low cost brail printer. Wouldn’t that help increase the access of blind people to a lot of content which otherwise they are not able to access?  

Numerous examples of this kind are available at www.nifindia.org/ignite. The competition for the current year has been announced and the last date is August 31, 2014, ignite@nifindia.org.  

Meanwhile, the inverted model of innovation promoted by the Honey Bee Network will soon become an important element of the inclusive innovation system worldwide. The model implies that children invent, engineers fabricate and companies commercialise. We can add that the regulators or policy makers will create new standards of designing various products and services taking cues from children. Children, like the informal sector, are not just the pool of resources but are also the source of ideas. It is time we learn to listen to them so that they can shape the world they want to be a leader of. 

Anil gupta
The author is a professor at IIMA




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