How to improve the quality of crops? How to avoid road accidents? How to manage water resources in a village, so that the women don’t have to travel long distances to fetch water? These were some of the questions faced by students participating in a competition, held at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay’s (IIT-B) annual TechFest, demanding the use of technology to solve everyday problems.
While a group of students came up with a system to monitor farms from home, another team developed shoes for children and women that send off emergency alerts. One of the winners was a group of city school students for a project to keep train compartments and railway tracks clean.
The projects were on display at TechFest during the weekend.
The competition, named ‘Ideate’, was divided into three segments: The first part required participants to employ the concept of Internet of Things (IoT), which is about providing network connectivity to everyday objects. The second segment dealt with improving the lives of rural women using technology, and the third was about coming up with innovative solutions for various sectors. “The objective of the competition was to compel young minds towards deep thinking, by challenging them with real life problems,” said Pushkaraj Dhake, the coordinator for Ideate.
Dhake added that they received more than 600 entries across segments. In the first round, the participants had to submit an abstract of their idea. Once approved, the participating teams were assigned expert mentors to help develop their projects. On Saturday, three participants from each of the categories were chosen as winners. Apart from cash prizes of Rs2.4 lakh, the winners may also get funding from investors to implement their ideas.
Sanket College of Engineering in Karjat, for instance, who were one of the winners in the IoT category, designed a system which will allow people in urban areas to keep a tab on their agricultural farms. As part of the system, the scarecrow in the farm will have an electronic chip on both the hands. These chips will record the temperature and humidity of the farm, which will be displayed in real time on a mobile application.
Shirish Patil, one of the mentors for the group, said that the app can also be used to pump water in the farm. “A set of cameras will provide real time pictures of the crops, so that the owner will know if the crop is suffering from any disease,” he added.
Another innovation on display was a pair of shoes which come with an electronic circuit. Whenever a person senses danger, they can move their feet to alert a friend or a family member about their location through an SMS.
The winner of the innovation challenge was a team of school children from the city, who designed a mechanism to keep train compartments clean. They have proposed installing a 5100 litre dustbin below each compartment. Whenever a passenger wishes to throw garbage, he will have to press a foot pedal and a door to the bin will open up. The compartment can be cleaned using automatic blowers and brushes.