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Kerala students design ‘intelligent wheelchair’

T K Devasia / 6 September 2012

TRIVANDRUM — Physically challenged, dumb or blind people will be able to move freely if the ‘Intelligent Wheelchair’ conceived by a group of engineering students in Kerala becomes technically feasible.

Conceived by five students of Sahrdaya College of Engineering Technology, Kodakara in Trichur district, the ‘intelligent wheelchair’ can be operated through eye movements, voice or a lever. It will also have sensors to detect hazards.

This is among six innovative projects selected for further development after a unique, first ever talent hunt jointly held by Startup Village, India’s first telecom incubator, and the Kerala Chapter of IEEE Communication Society.

‘Smartmotive’, a standing wheelchair that helps a paralysed person to stand up, SMS Vehicle Locating Solution’, which will save passengers from the ordeal of endless waiting to hire a taxi or auto rickshaw, Project Haritha, a hybrid automated remote irrigation technique for agriculture are among other projects selected in the talent hunt.

Startup Village Governing Board chairperson Sanjay Vijayakumar said they had selected these projects not only for their innovativeness but also for their usefulness for the masses. He said that he was hopeful that these ideas would soon translate into successful technologies with proven commercial applications.

The ‘intelligent wheelchair’ is useful to people suffering from any kind of paralysis since its every movement is controlled by retinal movements or facial commands or sound. Similarly the ‘SMS vehicle locating solution’ helps people save valuable time.

The project conceived by a team from College of Engineering, Trivandrum, aims to eliminate the need to wait as commuters can send SMS alerts to auto or taxi drivers pinpointing their location in plain text as well as an identifiable landmark location code to the designated number.

While current solutions require the use of expensive smart phones and global positioning systems, the proposed system is designed to function on basic feature phones that support SMS functionality.

The project Haritha mooted by students of Sree Chitra Thirunal College of Engineering, Trivandrum is a user-friendly automated solar powered irrigation system that can be used for nurturing home gardens.

The talent hunt also brought up a scientifically trained arm-robotic kinesis or STARK, a battery-powered, lightweight exoskeletal framework of an arm to provide support, or to enhance the physical capabilities of the wearer.

STARK conceived by a group of students from Mar Baselius College of Engineering and Technology, Trivandrum, promises applications to people whose work involve lifting heavy weights, people at potentially dangerous workspaces or those who have lost a limb.

Vijayakumar said Startup Village would extend 50 per cent of the total project cost to incubate these ideas. It will also provide technical assistance for groups working on speech recognition by introducing them to Nuance, the world leader in Speech Recognition technologies, and powering solutions like Siri in Iphone.

Those groups working on sensor-based device will be introduced to Wi-finity, a company based in Bangalore, he said.

Sijo Kuruvilla George, Startup Village CEO, said the programme was intended to ignite the passion for technology among the students and also to transform the young talents of Kerala into entrepreneurs.

“We covered all the 164 engineering colleges in the state in this drive to spot the bright minds and novel ideas that can be the game changers tomorrow,” he added.


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