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A great innovation to help the visually challenged

November 19, 2008 12:58 IST
Technology has travelled through many barriers, breaking them and this time around an innovator from Tumkur district of Karnataka has worked out a solution for the visually challenged- in the form of a stick.

And the innovation is likely to gain more popularity in overseas markets with as many as three Australian and some US firms evincing interest in commercialising it.

The innovation called 'blind man's stick' aspires to make life easy for the visually challenged by alerting them if they are stepping on water or into a pit through a multi-lingual voice recorded system.

"The innovation is a major breakthrough in technology as the product indicates the visually challenged of water, potholes or any other obstructions on the road. The attachments have voice recorders in different languages.

Also, if there is any object approaching say vehicles, then the person can be alerted through vibrations in the stick. It is very easy to carry and a battery charge of just one hour gives a back up of 50 hours," says Wazeer, the man behind the innovation.

Available at Rs 950 per piece, Wazeer has already sold 250 pieces in India. The stick has been developed with infra red Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), infra red sensors, moisture sensors and a wireless headphone. The infra red light from the stick is reflected back on the sensors from any obstruction and the alarm is sounded.

If the obstruction is on the left, the alarm is sounded in left headphone speaker and likewise for the right side. Both the alarms go off if the obstruction is in the front. What's more, the alarm also goes off if there is water on the road.

While the innovator is looking for some financial assistance to take the product further, Ahmedabad-based Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions (SRISTI), a non-government organisation (NGO) has supported the innovation financially and made it commercially viable so far.

"As part of its objective to develop grassroot innovations and provide intellectual property rights protection to the innovators, SRISTI supported and encouraged Wazeer in patenting the product and making it commercially available. We helped the innovator refine the product, approach the right people, sign agreements and sell the product. Besides creating technological backup for further innovation in this product, currently, we are looking for someone who can help the innovation with a working capital of Rs 1-1.5 lakh," says Vijaya Vittala, mentor of independent innovators at SRISTI.

Chitra Unnithan in Mumbai/Ahmedabad