Ever hurt your ankles trying to squat on Indian toilets? Meet this Pune student who designed a new ‘pain-free’ version
Satyajit Mittal, a 25-year-old student from the MIT school of Design, has redesigned the age old toilet model with changes at the footrest, which in the past, had never attracted attention from the design point of view.
The project undertaken by Mittal, is currently in the prototype phase and has received the Nidhi Prayas Innovation Grant worth Rs 10 lakh by Nidhi Prayas Centre, Science and Technology Park, Pune, promoted by National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), government of India. It is the first ever unidirectional toilet in the world and also has a universal demarcation to help the visually impaired use the product, said Mittal.
According to Mittal, his squat toilet design has an angle of elevation, which is easier to squat on. It can be seen as an ergonomic design development on a given design, he said.
“This new design, called SquatEase, will help those can’t squat well and those who are often seen squatting on toes, and don’t touch their heels to balance themselves on a toilet, putting more pressure on their the back, knees and ankles. It is a very uncomfortable situation and to aid them, I have included the squat toilet with an angle of elevation, more surface area to keep heel and the toes so that the centre of gravity is maintained constantly. This will help them balance better. Due to the added surface, the weight distribution in the back, toes and knees is equal, reducing pain and making it easier to squat,” Mittal added.
It was while designing a problem-solving product at MIT Institute of Design in a course called Special Needs that he came up with this idea and was at the time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had started the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and the introduction of toilets. “I started researching about India’s state of sanitation and was intrigued by the different problems associated to the sector that did not have a solution to. I began with a design for a toilet for women. I started clicking photographs of persons squatting from an inclined angle and also started observing their behavioural patterns. I found that most people squat on their toes with their heels in the air. I spoke to physiotherapy centres and they too validated the problem. Following this, I designed a new footrest for squat toilets,” he stated.
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