Category Archives: Science & Technology

Kerala startup finds robotic solution to end sewer cleaning deaths

A municipal workers attempts to unblock a sewer overflowing with human excreta in New Delhi. (HT File Photo )

Manual scavenging, an abominable practice that claims several lives across the country every year, could soon be a thing of the past with a group of young engineers from Kerala developing a robot to do the sewage cleaning job.

The Kerala Water Authority that manages the sewage department in the state has already placed orders for 50 robots, christened as Bandicoot.

To market their invention, the young engineers have started a startup called ‘Genrobotics’. After receiving patent for the robot from India, the company has now applied for the world patent, applicable in 150 countries.

Manual scavenging is a caste-based occupation mainly involving cleaning septic tanks, sewers and gutters.

Despite legal bans, the dehumanising practice continues in the country. According to one estimate more than 1200 people died from manual scavenging related activities between 2014 and 2016 in the country.

The start-up claims the Bandicoot is the tech solution to the social malaise. Genrobotics says it will go global only after “fixing the country’s nagging problem.”

Apart from sewer lines the robots can also be pressed into service for other under-water activities.

Death of three sewage workers on the outskirts of Bangalure two years ago prompted the young techies to think something out of the box to tackle the problem, which is often being called India’s shame, said Vimal Govind, the 24-year-old CEO of Genrobotics. Govind is a mechanical engineer.

“I worked more than one year in the TCS to earn some money to fund the stage one of the project. We all nine classmates of MES Engineering College in Kuttipuram came around quickly and developed the first prototype in six months,” added Rashid K, a software engineer.

Initially they struggled to find fund for the project, but now they say money is pouring in from different sources.

Manufacturing cost of the machine is somewhere between Rs 3lakh and Rs 5 lakh, Rashid said. Their machine weighs 80kg but the main operating part that goes into the hole weighs only 30 kg.

Once installed atop a clogged sewage line, a wire carrying camera goes inside the hole and beams pictures of the problem on the screen atop.

After gauging the problem, the robot dismantles itself from the main machine and goes into the hole taking tools such as a shovel or a jet pipe, depending on the magnitude of the problem, and cleans the system.

Young scientists claim a robot can manage three workers’ three-hour schedule in 30 minutes.

To operate the machine, the Genrobotics wants to engage manual scavengers so that they don’t become jobless.

“Even a small boy can operate our system. We will train these workers. It is their product. We are planning to move a proposal under the Prime Minister’s flagship Swachh Bharat scheme to train them,” said Govind, who recently visited Taiwan for a presentation.

“Our guiding spirit is our former President A P J Abdul Kalam. He always used to say dream, dream. The young India is committed to fulfil his dream of becoming a fully developed nation sans hunger and strife,” said Jaleesh, another member of the team.

He said talks are on to produce these machines commercially.

Kerala’s IT department, which is the first in the country to formulate a start-up policy is upbeat over the achievement of the youngsters.

“The noble product shows social commitment of these youngsters. Many firms including the BPCL promised help to take their innovation to the next stage,” said state IT Secretary M Sivasankar.

In an international conference conducted recently by the American Society of Research, out of 13 papers submitted, a paper on Bandicoot was selected as the best.

The paper was published in the International Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics Research.

source: / HIndustan Times / Home> India / by Ramesh Babu, Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram / January 06th, 2018

Young scientist awards announced

The Kerala State Council for Science, Technology, and Environment (KSCSTE) has announced the State awards for outstanding young scientists.

V.B. Kiran Kumar, CUSAT (Mathematics); Ajay Venugopal, IISER, Thiruvananthapuram (Chemistry); Sasidharan B.S., NIIST (Chemical Science and Technology); Sumod S.G., Sacred Heart College, Kochi (Physics); Kumaravel S., NIT, Kozhikode (Electrical Engineering); and Pradeepan Periyat, University of Calicut (Chemistry); have been chosen for the award, an official pressnote issued here said.

The award comprises a purse of ₹50,000, the Chief Minister’s gold medal, and a project assistance up to ₹50 lakh as well as financial support to participate in an international science conference. The awards will given away at the Kerala Science Congress to be held at Government Brennen College, Thalassery, on January 28.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Kerala / by Special Correspondent – Thiruvananthapuram / January 04th, 2018

A professor becomes a successful caregiver for cancer patients


Prof. Ramani Tharayil has been able to empathize with the pain of the patients ever since she was the principal of Kottayam BCM College.

When she retired from service 17 years ago, she told her husband Dr. K. C. Joseph that she wanted to do something to help cancer patients during her retirement life. He did not raise any objection and she began her service.

Prof. Ramani created beautiful craftworks using the waste pieces of clothes from tailoring shops and sold them to her acquaintances.

Knowing her intention of charity, her friends and relatives accepted her idea with open heart. People flowed to her house at Kaniyamkudil near BCM  College, asking for the creative pieces she made. After 3 years her husband died, which turned her complete attention to tailoring.

More of her creations are useful for household purposes, like beautiful kitchen towels or fridge handle cover. The money collected from sales is handed over to the cancer palliative care units every month. All the craftworks are made of eco-friendly materials.

Prof. Ramani said that the sales have increased, since she started trying new designs and crafts from internet. “I feel the same happiness I used to feel as a principal, when my students win or maybe a lot more,” said Prof. Ramani.

Her daughter Priya Mohan, who is a computer science graduate from Calicut Regional Engineering College, offers full support for her mother’s endeavour..

Priya’s husband Mohan Thomas, who is an engineer, also support her activities.

source: / Mathrubhumi / Home> News / December 12th, 2017

Navy’s operational sea training organisation turns 25 years

C​hief of the Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba ​delivering the keynote address at the silver jubilee seminar​ of Flag Officer Sea Training organisation. ​

Seminar today to mark the occasion will have 18 foreign delegates taking part

A two-day seminar on “Operational sea training and safety on board” got under way at the Southern Naval Command (SNC) here on Wednesday with the Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba, as the chief guest to mark the silver jubilee off the Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) – an organisation within the Navy headquartered in Kochi and is responsible for the conduct of operational sea training of all Indian naval ships through its ‘work up’ teams located in Kochi, Mumbai and Visakhapatnam.

Operational sea training involves comprehensive training of a ship and its crew, to prepare it as a team to perform its full range of tasks during peace and war.

Vice Admiral A.R. Karve, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the SNC, inaugurated the seminar, while Admiral Lanba delivered the keynote address. The first day of the seminar witnessed presentation of papers by speakers from the Indian Navy on the themes, “Combat efficiency through operational sea training” and “Promoting safety on board”.

The seminar will have an international flavour on Thursday with the participation of 18 overseas delegates, from Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Oman, UAE and Mauritius.

The Indian naval work-up team, headed by FOST, has been undertaking sea training service for not just the Indian Navy, but also for the Coast Guard and foreign navy ships since 1992. Over the past 25 years, the organisation has trained the crew of over 1,075 ships and submarines from the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and friendly foreign countries. Training for 16 foreign ships and regular interaction with foreign navies/coast guards has helped exchange best practices, while strengthening bonds of maritime cooperation, a defence media release said.

source: / The Hindu / Home News> Cities> Kochi / by Special Correspondent / Kochi – December 20th, 2017

IT department, Austrian academy join hands to develop assistive tools for paraplegics

Thiruvananthapuram :

In its effort to provide assistive technology  to people with motor disabilities, International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS), an organization under state IT department, will collaborate with AsTeRICS Academy in  Austria.

The European academy will support ICFOSS in developing its capabilities in a range of assistive tools to support individuals with motor disorders for using computers and other electronic equipment.

An Austrian group consisting of two technologists from the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien is currently in the city in connection with Swatantra 2017, the two-day triennial free software conference being organized by ICFOSS. The team will lead a workshop from Monday at ICFOSS in Technopark for assembling and production of various products they have developed.

“This will be a milestone in Kerala’s efforts in using assistive technology for the welfare of the masses, especially marginalized sections of the society,” said IT secretary M Shivasankar. “ICFOSS is poised to take a lead in this regard and it has already established a research facility jointly with College of Engineering Trivandrum,” he added.

One of such technologies is FlipMouse that acts as an alternative input device for challenged people who prefer or need other input variants than a standard computer mouse or keyboard. Using a FlipMouse, keyboard and mouse activities can be created via slightest finger or mouth interaction. This enables precise control of computer mouse or keyboard actions. Click activities can be created via sip and puff activities, or by attaching external switches to the device. This can be used to control wheelchairs, play games on computers and other activities.

“These technologies and products will be offered to ICFOSS as a do-it-yourself construction kit,” said ICFOSS director Jayashankar Prasad. “This will help us in the production of the equipment at very low cost,” he added.

source: / The Times of India . News> City News> Thiruvananthapuram News / TNN / December 18th, 2017

Kasaragod’s online radio, State’s first

District panchayat president A.G.C. Basheer releasing the logo of the internet radio services to be launched by the district administration in the presence of Collector K. Jeevababu and Superintendent of Police K.G. Simon in Kasaragod on Tuesday. | Photo Credit: K. Vinaya Kumar

The venture is district administration’s effort to disseminate info on government projects

An Internet radio service, to be launched here from December 23, is the State’s first effort by a district administration for dissemination of information on government-initiated programmes and schemes to the public.

The online radio service would be inaugurated at 11 a.m. by Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekharan in Neeleshwaram, Collector K. Jeevanbabu told a press conference here on Tuesday.

The new generation radio service that could be accessed by visiting would help a person get acquainted with various services and schemes offered by the district administration as well as the local bodies and other institutions like schools, hospitals and other government and utility establishments.

“Usually, the public come to learn about any government-initiated schemes through newspapers. The situation needed to be addressed by putting in place a mechanism so that the people are informed about the schemes well in advance,” Mr. Jeevanbabu said.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Kerala / by Staff Reporter / Kasaragod – December 20th, 2017

‘Missile woman’ receives award

Tessy Thomas receiving the Dr. Pinnamaneni and Smt Seethadevi Foundation Award in Vijayawada on Saturday. | Photo Credit: CH_VIJAYA BHASKAR

Advises students to draw inspiration from Abdul Kalam at a college here

‘Missile Woman of India’ and Director of Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL) Tessy Thomas was presented the Dr Pinnamaneni and Smt. Seethadevi Foundation award here on Saturday. Foundation Managing Trustee C Nageswara Rao and trust member and daughter of Pinnamaneni Venkateswara Rao after whom the awarded is named, Ch Sudha, presented the award.

The Missile Woman now shares the award with distinguished scientists like A.P.J.Abdul Kalam— who was also her mentor, M.S.Swaminathan and Prof C.N.R. Rao.

Prof V Ramalingaswami and Sribhashyam Appalacharyalu were the first to be conferred the award in 1989. The other eminent persons who received the award include V Kurien, Lata Mangeshkar, S.P.Balasubramanyam, R.K Laxman, K.J.Jesudas, Karan Singh, B.G.Verghese, Ramanand Sagar, Sudha Murty, E.Sreedharan, Zakir Hussain, Y.V.Reddy and Changati Koteswara Rao.

The Gramapragathi Puraskaram was presented to the Swacha Sundara Challapalli Udyamam represented by doctor couple D R K Prasad and Padmavati.

Earlier the Missile woman spoke to the students of the V.R. Siddhartha Engineering College, Kanuru.

She asked the students to ensure a strong hold on the basics of engineering, mathematics and physics to be successful in any area.

Sharing her experiences of working along with former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on the missile technologies, she urged the students to take Abdul Kalam as their role model and work hard for the overall growth of the nation.

She stressed on the need to be skilful in the latest technologies such as cloud computing, big data analytics, Internet of Things and cyber security as there were many opportunities across the nation in both public and private sectors.

Space technologies

Students were all charged up after listening to her talk and actively participated in the interaction that primarily centred around missile and space technologies.

President of the Siddhartha Academy N. Venkateswarulu, vice-president C. Nageswara Rao, Principal A.V. Ratna Prasad, CSE HoD V. Srinivasa Rao and heads of other departments M. Suneetha and PVRL Narasimham were present.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Andhra Pradesh / by Special Correspondent / Vijayawada – December 16th, 2017

Get ready for a rich viewing experience at Nishagandhi

The new Barco Lazer Projector installed at Nishagandhi theater which would be used to screen films during IFFK, in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday / Rakesh Nair

Thiruvananthapuram :

The 22nd edition of IFFK will create history by introducing laser projection for the first time in the state.

Nishagandhi Auditorium has been installed with the most advanced Barco laser cinema projector designed to provide a great viewing experience.

“Normally projectors use Xenon lamps, which can run only for 1,000 to 1,500 hours. Laser projection gives the purest white colour because the colour depth is so great resulting in stunning cinema viewing experience. Besides we don’t have to go for replacements as in Xenon lamps which need to be replaced after 1,000 hours. Laser projectors could run movies for as long as 30,000 hours,” explains Litto Tom, manager, technical services, at Qube Cinemas, who is in the city co-ordinating screening in theatres as part of IFFK.

The reduced operating expense and simplified operations have added to the growing popularity of laser projectors across the world “The brightness levels and image quality are going to be incomparable when we use laser projector. It not only does away with lamp-related expense but installation and operation are also easier,” says Noby P, senior engineer, Qube Cinemas.

Some major films, which have been critically acclaimed, are scheduled to be screened at Nishagandhi. The new laser projector will also add to the effects of the much anticipated midnight screening of the Indonesian horror film ‘Satan’s slave’ on the fourth day of the fest.

The projector room of Nishagandhi has been slightly decked up to welcome the prestigious new projector. The room has been fully air conditioned in addition to a pre-installed chiller that comes with laser projector. Aneesh Kumar, the projectionist who has been associated with IFFK for the last few years, can’t conceal his excitement. “It is one of the most advanced projectors. To operate it for our viewers and that too at an event like IFFK is really thrilling for any operator,” says Aneesh Kumar.

Meanwhile, an IFFK flex erected at Vazhuthacaud invited protest as it blocked traffic signals for commuters coming from the Bakery Junction side. Following protest, the traffic police removed the flex board.

source: / The Times of India / Home> City News> Thiruvananthapuram News / by Aswin J. Kumar / TNN  / December 08th, 2017

World record? 191 tumours removed from Omani woman’s uterus at Kerala hospital

A doctor at the hospital said they performed the operation in four hours without removing the patient’s ovaries or uterus. The previous record was held by an Egyptian woman, who had 186 tumours removed from her body last December.

Mediapersons interview the medical team that conducted the surgical procedure. (HT Photo)

As many as 191 benign tumours were removed from the uterus of an Omani woman at a private hospital in Kozhikode, north Kerala, on Saturday.

Doctors at the city’s Starcare Hospital claimed this was a new world record. They said the previous one was held by an Egyptian woman, who had 186 tumours removed from her body last December.

Dr Abdul Rashid, the hospital’s chief gynaecologist, told Hindustan Times they performed the operation in four hours without removing the patient’s ovaries or uterus. “We blended keyhole and traditional mechanisms to do it. We were expecting 80-odd tumours, not so many,” he said, adding that the woman was now recuperating from the procedure.

The existing record in the country is 84 tumours.

Dr Rashid said the hospital will soon update Guinness World Records authorities on the development. “We did not operate on the 34-year-old woman to break any record. We had initially considered laparoscopic surgery, but decided against it when we realised that the tumour was really big,” he added.

A team of three doctors had performed the surgery.

The chief gynaecologist said a leading medical body has already confirmed that this was a unique case. “The woman seemed to be in an advanced stage of pregnancy when she first came here, but we were keen on protecting her ovaries and uterus. She can now lead a normal life, and even conceive after a couple of years,” he added.

According to Dr Rashid, there has been a significant rise in middle-eastern patients visiting super-specialty hospitals in the state lately. “Our facilities are economical when compared to hospitals in the West, while keeping with similar standards. Kerala has always been a leading tourist destination, but it may soon become a medical hub too,” he said.

source: / Hindustan  Times / Home> India / by Ramesh Babu – Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram / November 19th, 2017

Kerala start-up makes it to top 10

Infopark-based Inntot Technologies chosen for Industrial Innovation Awards 2017 instituted by CII

Thiruvananthapuram :

Inntot Technologies, a media entertainment start-up incubated at the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM), has been chosen as one of the Top 10 Promising Start-ups of India for the Industrial Innovation Awards 2017 instituted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Inntot has also bagged the CII Industrial Innovation Award for the best service start-up.

Based at Infopark, Kochi, Inntot Technologies specialises in providing cost-effective radio digital solutions and offers software solutions and services in consumer electronics, Internet of Things, and the mobile sector.

The company was founded by Rajith Nair and Prasanth Thankappan at Kakkanad in 2014. It was shifted to Infopark this year.

Inntot is also working on other technologies including a communication facility that enables safe and comfortable vehicular traffic. It participated in the 26th edition of the IT Week held in Japan recently.

Infosys co-founder and CII Startup Council chairman S. Gopalakrishnan was the chairman of the jury.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States / by Special Correspondent / October 29th, 2017