(May 31, 2022) “Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.” These words of Theodore Levitt stand true for the brigade of Indian teen innovators who are helping solve the biggest issues, one problem at a time. From saving the earth to creating social impact, these new generation of precocious youth is solving the problems of today with ambitious, ground-breaking tech.
Global Indian turns the spotlight on five such teen techies, who are breaking the glass ceilings with their innovations.
His trip to Delhi at the age of seven was his first tryst with air pollution. Finding hard to breathe in the capital, Satyam resolved to find a solution. This drive made him spent years researching, before he hit the jackpot with clay pots in 2019. Understanding that chemicals present in clay pots make them good absorbents of particle matter in pollutants, the teen innovator found a way to make a cheap filter out of broken clay pots that could be fitted over car exhausts or even upscaled to cover the factory chimneys.
“This filter is highly eco-friendly. After the absorption of the pollutants the filter could be converted into a brick causing no harm to the environment. I made use of the broken clay pots that purify the water and make it drinkable and this filter can also be used in several other polluting endings like the one in vehicles,” says the Bengaluru-resident teen innovator who is currently pursuing bachelor’s degree in information sciences.
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“We have every reason to be angry. But I have no time for anger. I want to act. I am not just a girl from India. I am a girl from Earth and I am proud to be so.” These words of the 15-year-old innovator and environmentalist Vinisha Umashankar received a thunderous standing ovation at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in 2021. The teen from Tamil Nadu, who was the only school student to earn a spot among the finalists for The Earthshot Prize 2021, was invited by Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, to speak at the World Leaders’ Summit at the COP26 in November 2021.
At 12, the teen innovator started the idea of inventing a solar-powered ironing cart while accompanying her mother to deliver ironing clothes. Seeing six ironing vendors in her neighbourhood, she realised how charcoal burning is a threat to the environment. She found her eureka in solar power which effectively substitutes charcoal. The innovation won her the Children’s Climate Prize in 2020 helped her get a slot as a finalist at The Earthshot Prize in the Clean Our Air category in 2021. “I was happy that environmental innovations like a solar ironing cart got due recognition. It can play a crucial role in reducing environmental damage and climate change. I hope my innovation motivates students to innovate on products that could help protect the environment for future generations. I am happy that the solar ironing cart is my little contribution towards an ambitious goal,” she told Global Indian.
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A chance encounter with a blind woman on his way back home in Nirjuli village of Papum Pare in Arunachal Pradesh, made Anang think deep about the challenges faced by visually-impaired people. This led the teen innovator to develop a device – Goggle for Blind, a smart goggle fitted with modern electronics and sensor which is capable of detecting the obstacles lying in front of the wearer. Based on the principle of echolocation – used by the bats – it alerts the wearer in advance of any obstacle in front of them. Moreover, it helps them to easily navigate around their environment without the worry of bumping into things or people.
“I did many testing with my prototypes in real life with blind people and they were very impressed with the product and they want the product to be available to them very soon. Right now, I am in the phase of developing the prototype into a final product. UNICEF, among the others, has assured help and support to my invention,” the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Ignite Awardee said in an interview.
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At 13, Manoj lost his grandfather to a silent heart attack. That’s when he began research in the space, and after three years of working in varied government and private labs, he came up with a skin patch that can detect a silent heart attack six hours before it happens. His innovation – which could revolutionise healthcare – has received clinical validation from the Tokyo University of Science, London’s Royal Society of Medicine and Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
The patch work emits a small amount of positive charge, which attracts the negatively-charged FABP3 protein, a biomarker for heart attacks. If analysis shows an increased level of the protein, a heart attack is underway.
“It is a watch-like device that you wear around your wrist and place a patch near your chest. The non-invasive device will identify the alarm signal your heart is sending through a unique bio-electric system that I have developed so you don’t need a blood test at all,” Akash, who is the President’s Gold Medal recipient, had told in an interview. Akash is currently studying at a medical school in Prague, Czech Republic.
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He was only 14 when he signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) worth ₹5 crore with Gujarat government for finding a smart solution to diffusing landmines through drones. Outfitted with an infrared sensor, thermal meter and an RGB sensor with a 21-megapixel built-in camera, the drone can survey minefields, pick up the location of landmines, submit their findings to the base-station remotely and can also bomb landmines they spot.
His device – EAGLE A7 (Escort for Attacking on Ground and buried Landmines as Enemy by Aerobotics7) — was tested at an army test field, achieving an accuracy rate of 89-93 percent. The teenager was also invited to visit the Google and Facebook offices as part of a private fellowship. The CEO of Aerobotics, the teen innovator is on a mission to make the “world a safe place.”
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