Entrepreneurs create an app for farmers and a device to treat epilepsy

  • Rozelle Laha, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 18, 2016 14:26 IST
Three snappy innovations that can make life easier for farmers and doctors. (istock)

There is a solution to every problem and three teams are its firm believers.From creating apps that can alert farmers to crop disease to diagnosing epilepsy, these people have done it all.

These teams emerged as winners in Intel DST – Innovate For Digital India Challenge, held in the Capital recently. Intel plans to put in an equity investment of up to Rs 20 lakh per team and will be providing them additional go-to-market support and engineering support. “Intel believes that opportunities such as these can channelise the capability of Indian citizens in the right direction, and eventually benefit the larger society,” says Debjani Ghosh, VP - sales and marketing group and MD - South Asia, Intel Corporation.

Here’s what inspired them to innovate:

Dealing with crop problems

Having grown up in a farmer’s household in Hagaribommanahalli of Bellary district in Karnataka, Anand Babu was encouraged by his father to use his knowledge and experience to make a difference to the way farmers deal with agricultural problems.

Even after spending 12 years in IT firms in India and abroad, the idea of giving back to the farming community stayed with him. Babu, his cousin and another friend, Hareesh U, together created a mobile app for crops and a device called Agri Pole from which farmers can download these apps.

The team has already created 25 crop-specific apps, taking information from regional journals, in four languages – Kannada, English, Marathi and Telegu. The app contains information on different varieties of crops, plantation methods, calculations of the amount of fertiliser and water to be used for the particular crop, nutrition details, possible diseases and cost management. It operates without an internet connection. A farmer can listen to the audio or watch a video.

The Agri Pole device helps farmers download 25 crop-specific apps that contains information on different varieties of crops, plantation methods, calculations of the amount of fertiliser and water to be used for the particular crop, nutrition details, possible diseases and cost management. (Handout Image)

“Our apps reach one farmer every six minutes. As of today, we have 70,000 users and are expected to touch million by next year,” Babu says.

The team usually installs Agri Pole in rural banks or in gram panchayats. Of late, the banks have put their own banking app in the device to promote net banking among farmers.

“As a farmer uses the app, we collect and analyse the usage patterns of lakhs of farmers under specific crops and regions using advanced analytics tools. For example, if several farmers search for certain pests at a time in a specific location, we can immediately alert farmers in the area and policy makers to send a scientist to take care of it. By measuring on-ground data we can even help agri-input companies decide on what product they need to market in which area. If we are able to generate two to three years’ of data, we can start making predictions for the future. This is true power of analytics,” says Babu.

Diagnosing epilepsy with accuracy

Rajilakshmi Borthakur who has 18 years of experience in IT, wanted doctors to diagnose her son’s epileptic condition. This drove her to invent a device that could help him.

While interacting with doctors she realised that the diagnosis of epilepsy was based on assumptions on drugs that might or might not work on patients. Doctors rely heavily on caregivers’ observations and also on electroencephalogram (EEG) for diagnosis.

Epileptic patients can wear this glove and the portable gateway acts like a mini supercomputer personalised for the patient in a way that it understand his/her epilepsy type. (Handout Image)

The device comprises a wearable hand glove and a small portable gateway device that patients can carry with them. The glove receives signals when it is worn, while the gateway device streams real-time data, when he/she is at work, in school or sleeping. Based on the information collected by this gateway, doctors can customise medicines.

“I wanted to give enough information to doctors to understand what actually was happening to my son in the normal course of a day, with data aggregated over a period of time. This information, I felt, was crucial to help understand his peculiar epilepsy type and customise his treatment plan. I also wanted a predictive mechanism so that I at least have the bare minimum notice to rush my son to hospital before things went out of hand,” says Borthakur. The theoretical research for the project took her three-and-a-half years.

An all-in-one ambulatory care

Sairam Mannar came up with the idea of integrating multiple devices used during emergency situations. Sairam, an electronics engineer, with his sister Dr Sai Sangeetha, and former colleagues B GJayashri and Sai Sruti Akula, a chartered accountant came up with an integrated device comprising a digital stethoscope, pulse oxymeter, thermometer and a blood pressure monitor. It measures blood glucose levels and ECG.

An integrated device to help doctors treat patients during emergency. (Handout Image)

Read more: Innovations with robots, the IIT Bombay way

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