Ajit Narayanan, 29 , exemplifies the spirit of innovation in India. Toiling for a few years at a startup, Invention Labs Engineering, incubated at the IIT (Indian Institute of Technology ) Madras , Narayanan has developed an alternate communication system for millions of people who remain incommunicado with the society due to their disabilities
Avaz Avaz, (voice in Hindi) is the tool which uses a variety of software and hardware to provide a voice to these muted millions using just their muscle movements. There are an estimated 10 million people in India who suffer from speech impediments. They may not have speech but they have a lot to say. And they can benefit from Narayanan's device. AVAZ is a communication device for people with speech disorders such as cerebral palsy, autism, mental retardation, and aphasia. Avaz works by converting limited muscle movements, such as head or finger movements, into speech. His invention broadly falls under the category of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) technologies. Though speech generating devices are effective, most AAC devices aren't within the reach of the speech-impaired persons in the developing world and they mostly generate speech in English. This is another deterrent which has prevented these devices from becoming as popular in the developing world. "Narayanan's innovation lies in bringing down the cost of the device to one-tenth of the price of similar devices, making it affordable to a wide swath of the Indian disabled population, and making it available in Indian languages," says N Suresh, Editor of Technology Review India who led the TR35 initiative in India for the second year in a row.
Alefia Merchant (32 years) Humanitarian of the Year
Novel method of screening for eye disease in children under the age of five .
An estimated 1.4 million children in the world are blind and 90 percent of them are found in developing countries. In India, these children often face a lifetime of disability.
Poor vision affects every aspect of their lives - economic, social, and psychological. Ultimately, it undermines their function and acceptability in their families and in society.
If children with visual disabilities were detected sufficiently early, approximately 40 percent of such cases could be prevented or treated and the remaining could be rehabilitated to minimize the child's handicap.
In India, there are many hurdles in detecting, diagnosing, and treating such children. There is no organized screening program focused on identifying children under the age of five for sight-threatening eye conditions. The World Health Organization reports the lack of adequate community-based, primary-care screening programs as an important barrier to improvements in current morbidity and mortality rates due to eye-related diseases.
Gautam Kumar (26 years) Social Innovator of the year
System to detect gas leakages - RoboticWares, Bhubaneshwar
Passionate to innovate, Gautam Kumar has developed a system that detects leakage of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and sends warning messages to people connected with the device over their cell phones. He calls the device Suraksha which means "safety" in Hindi.
Kumar along with his cofounder Kushal Nahata got the idea to develop the device when he read about a gas leakage accident in Bhubaneshwar in which a few people lost their lives. "The incident reminded of a similar but bigger accident that occurred near Kushal's parents' house in Chandni Chowk, New Delhi, a few years back," recalls Kumar. The duo immediately felt the need of an alarm system which could warn people in time to save lives or even avoid such hazards before it is too late.
The device from Roboticwares is based on the olfactory kind of sensors which enables an intelligent machine to detect a certain type of smell and based on preset rules perform the actions which are programmed in it. Kumar's Suraksha can be configured to communicate with a maximum of five people by registering their cell phone numbers on the device. It sounds an alarm and sends a short message (SMS) to inform the registered users about the impending danger so that they are warned against starting any kind of fire or lighting a cigarette in the affected area.
The device starts checking the amount of LPG in the air if it reaches greater than or equal to seven parts per million (ppm). The buzzer or the SMS alerts, however, are set off once the amount of LPG reaches greater than or equal to 1000 ppm. The buzzer remains on until the amount of LPG in the air reduces to a safer level. And the SMSes are also sent again once the leakage stops.
The Suraksha device would cost a user approximately Rs 3,000-Rs 4,000 . It also comes in separate variants for industrial and domestic use. The industry-optimised Suraksha is capable of sustaining extreme temperature conditions -from a range of minus 70 degrees centigrade to plus 70 degrees centigrade - as well as large voltage fluctuations. Roboticwares is now looking upto the government for a subsidy to further lower the price for the common man.
Akash Lal (29 years) Improving software quality using automated verification Microsoft Research, Bangalore With software becoming all pervasive in our daily lives, it must become all the more reliable and shouldn't crash or behave unexpectedly. And the way to address this is through automated verification of programs. Though automated verification can significantly improve the quality of software with little manual effort, the available verification tools have been used to test sequential programs. This is a concern as modern software is invariably concurrent.
He has shown how a concurrent program can be efficiently transformed to a sequential one under certain conditions. Lal, along with his colleagues at Microsoft Research Lab in Bangalore, has built a tool called Poirot that is capable of finding bugs in real-world concurrent programs that are missed by conventional testing.
Akash's research has created an opportunity for developing precise and scalable tools for analyzing concurrent software, and many researchers including me are building on top of his work. Using a collection of models of concurrent programs, Lal's approach is 30 times faster than any existing tool for verifying concurrent programs.
Akshay Shah (29 years) iWeb Technology Solutions, Mumbai A business process management generator which can create applications on the fly .
While working in Pune for enterprise resource planning software maintenance and support, Akshay Shah realised that the popular ERPs available in the market were very complex in nature . He felt the need to develop a software which could churn out on-demand and cost effective applications for business process management. He developed a software platform called AgileWiz , a short form of agile wizard.
The Agilewiz technology is based on the concept of platform-as-a-service which can build fully functional application modules by feeding appropriate metadata as input. The Agilewiz has a business rules management system ( BRMS ) which ensures that implementers do not have to repeatedly rely on software principals for critical but necessary customizations of the produc t. Shah says that the platform has been designed from ground up and is technology independent. Any ERP, e-governance, hospital management, or a payroll application can be developed quickly using Agilewiz .
Deepak Ravindran (22 year s) Innoz Technologies, Haryana A mobile based search engine to deliver information on any topic . Deepak Ravindran calls it the " instant cup of knowledge ". His mobile based service, SMSGyan , promises information on almost any topic to the user on his mobile phone without asking him to click on any link . SMSGyan was launched in January 2009, and it currently caters to five million users, answering almost 20,000 queries daily
Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan (29 years) Microsoft Research, Bangalore A hybrid paper, pen, and digital slate solution for a low-cost digital record management system Aishwarya Ratan has come up with a low-cost digital system which lets the users have the convenience of using a normal pen and a plain paper to record data and instantly store it in the digital form. Aishwarya's team chose a low-cost digital slate and pen prototype device that allows handwritten entries, made with the pen on ordinary paper forms placed on the device, to be instantly digitized.
Fahad Azad (29 years) Robosoft Systems, Mumbai Duct cleaning robot to improve quality of the air we breathe The quality of the air that we breathe indoors depends on the air circulating in the air-conditioning ducts in our offices. To maintain the health and quality of this air that is circulated within the premises of an office or a home facility, it is essential that the ducts are cleaned properly at regular intervals. Duct cleaning in enterprises remains a challenge because of the tough accessibility of these narrow metallic passages and the requirement of shutting down the entire system. Fahad Azad with his team at Robosoft Systems has developed a robot, called DuctBot, designed specifically to do this job effectively.
Harit Soni (27 years) Ecolibrium Energy, Ahmedabad Smart grid technology to optimise the use of electricity in India Supported by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy of the Government of India , Ecolibrium is a smart-grid startup aimed at enabling consumers to manage power consumption in real-time The company offers solutions for automated metering which enables consumers to track generation of electricity from any distributed source in real-time
Krishna Gopal Singh (29 years) EnNatura Technology Ventures, Delhi Eco-friendly printing ink that reduces harmful emissions by almost 99 per cent . Krishna Gopal Singh, chief technology officer of Ennatura Technology Ventures, Delhi, has formulated a biodegradable printing ink which is mainly composed of the resin, the solvent which is used to dissolve the resin, the color pigment, and additives The offset printing industry emits 500,000 tons of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) annually into the atmosphere .
Manav Bhatia (32 years) Alcatel-Lucent, Bangalore Securing the Internet service provider's routing network . Routing in the Internet is a very complex task and routing protocols play the key role in ensuring that Internet works in a sane way. And Manav Bhatia's security and authentication algorithms help in making the routing protocols more secure and less susceptible to attacks, such as Denial of Service (DoS) or traffic redirection, so that data transfers happen seamlessly over the Internet.
Mayur M. Sadawana (26 years ) Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai Point-of-Care multianalyte sensor Mayur M. Sadawana, who is pursuing PhD in biomedical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai, has developed a minimally invasive, cost-effective, and accurate system that requires just a drop of blood as sample for the estimation of multianalytes for DKA diagnosis. He uses quantum dots (QDs) as biosensors for sensing analytes. Quantum dots are photo-luminescent nano particles of the size range of 2-10 nanometers. Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a complication of diabetes that occurs when the body cannot use sugar (glucose) as the energy source because it does not have enough insulin. As a result the body breaks down fat for use. His technology promises to reduce the cost of tests to Rs. 100.
Pulkit Gaur (29 years) Gridbots, Ahmedabad Underwater robot to clean tanks and reduce water wastage. Coming from the water scare region of Rajasthan, Pulkit Gaur understood the value of creating a mechanism which could clean water storage tanks without emptying them or wasting water. Passionate about robots, Gaur has developed a smart waterproof robot capable of carrying various underwater operations with ease. He calls his invention SaUsR (smart autonomous underwater service robot).
Sagar Bedmutha (29 years) Optinno Mobitech, Pune An intelligent anti-spamming software for mobile phones Sagar Bedmutha, CEO of Pune-based Optinno Mobitech, has created an intelligent SMS blocker which automatically blocks spam without the need of user intervention. His product smsBlocker also allows users to restore a blocked message
Sameer Jain (21 years) MGV Dental College, Nashik Innovative root canal machine Sameer Jain has designed and developed a root canal obturating machine, called Magik , which could make a root canal treatment failure proof. Jain's invention has the potential to change the way root canal treatment is practiced across the globe, and particularly in India. As compared to similar machines in market which cost between Rs 1- Rs 1.25 lakh, the Magik was developed under Rs 1,000. It decreases the time of treatment by ten-fold, requires no special training and is easy enough to be operated by any dentist
Sanjoy Ghosh (32 years) Product manager, Innovation, Logica India, Bangalore A device that wirelessly monitors and reports vehicular emission in real-time . Sanjoy Ghosh, Logica India, has developed Logica EMO , a device aimed at reducing vehicular pollution. It allows wireless monitoring and reporting of vehicular emissions in real-time. The product also empowers a driver to improve his driving pattern and turn the vehicle more environment-friendly.
Srinivasan Jayaraman (32 years) Tata Consultancy Services, Bangalore Secure system using human ECG to authenticate, identify and diagnose. With research interests in areas like healthcare devices, bio-signal processing, human system interface, biometrics, and ergonomics, Srinivasan Jayaraman has sought new ways of doing things. He has demonstrated application of human electrocardiogram (ECG) as a biometric. Using a collection of ECG waveforms corresponding to different people at different times, he has developed an algorithm to extract relevant morphological features and cluster them with sufficient distance for mapping them to respective people. The technology has the potential to be developed as a secure identification and authentication system based on individual specific ECG signature
Sushant Sinha (30 years) Indian Kanoon, Bangalore A search engine for Indian laws and court judgments . Sushant Sinha has developed Indian Kanoon, a search engine of Indian law. The portal has been designed to provide the most relevant Indian laws and court judgments in response to a query. It enables people to quickly determine the standing law of the land on any issue and empowers them to seek justice. With dual degree in computer science and engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and PhD in the same discipline from University of Michigan, Sinha felt the need to generate awareness of laws among the citizens of India. In May 2007, he started developing the portal and finally launched it on 4 January 2008.