Finding a functional but cheaper alternative will determine the success or failure of an innovation, says Meelind Mandlik

He is the head of technology at Samidha Bhavani which is a young start-up that aims to make a walking stick
Meelind Mandlik is the head of technology at Samidha Bhavani which is a young start up that aims to make a walking stick like no other.(Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)
Meelind Mandlik is the head of technology at Samidha Bhavani which is a young start up that aims to make a walking stick like no other.(Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Nov 24, 2018 03:56 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Pune | By Namita Shibad

Samidha Bhavani is a young start-up that aims to make a walking stick like no other. If the person walking with it falls down, it can send out an audio alarm, flash red lights, send out messages to the five people registered on the app and if the current work is successful, even read the persons blood pressure (BP). This is a product envisioned by Dr Pawan Kohli who is an orthopedic doctor practising in Pune. But like all great ideas, the devil was in the execution.

Finding a functional but cheaper alternative is what will determine the success or failure of an innovation. Samidha Bhavani that is part of the Bhau Institute (an incubator for tech start ups) was in the same space. Says Meelind Mandlik who heads technology at Samidha, “When we looked for components that our walking stick needed we found that the tool, Aurdiono was most commonly used. But unfortunately it is not suitable for a company like ours that wanted to get into manufacturing.”

What Samidha needed was a tool that was small and could multi-task.” says Nikhil Bhaskaran mentor and founder IoTIoT at Bhau centre of excellence . “The tool had to have a chip that could take in various commands like send out light and sound signals, call and message up to five people and so on. Aurdiono can do just one thing at a time. It was simply not suitable for them. Besides even if they did a proof of concept with it, how would they manage the manufacturing? Using this would be so expensive that they would fail in the market”

Initially Mandlik chose a chip manufactured by Texas Instruments called MSP430. He says, “In India we do not have much exposure to the cost of components. We started with MSP430 but Nikhil recommended another one, MTK2503. This was because it is much smaller in size, has Bluetooth, uses much less power and even has a small micro controller in it. Also it is much cheaper than the MSP430.”

Using this made all the difference to Samidha. “we developed a PoC product and did a small survey with some customers. With their feedback, (they wanted the stick to even give them blood pressure and sugar levels) we have brought it back to the drawing board to incorporate these. We plan to begin production by next month end.”

What essentially advice from their mentor did, was to help bring down the cost by Rs 220 per chip. Says Mandlik, “The MTK chip not only costs Rs 220 lesser than MSP430 but also is smaller in size and shape which helps us develop a smart sized stick. We of course had to add an additional micro controller because our program is quite complicated. But all the same, if we are to manufacture a 1000 walking sticks you can imagine the savings.”

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