I was recently selected for a bootcamp at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
It’s a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) summer boot camp named ‘Change.Makers’ for high schoolers where the students of classes 11th and 12th use the Institute’s state-of-the-art facilities to convert their impactful ideas to reality.
I submitted my project IRRIGO as a project proposal for the selection round, and was glad I got in.
The first week was mostly introductions and project proposals. All 30 of us who were selected had to pitch their ideas for innovative projects. The first day of the camp, it rained quite heavily. I saw a man topple over at the metro station due to a strong gust of wind. But, the weather calmed down enough.
Since the temperature dropped a fair bit, our whole cohort was taken to Sanjay Van, a nearby park. Here we had the introductions and some of the project proposals. Our mentors and teachers are some of the most educated and qualified people in India. It was amazing just listening to them talk. One mentor of ours wrote a play on the two halves of the brain. How people even think of stuff like this is beyond me.
The skill sets amongst my peers are also inspiring. I’ve never been among such like-minded and creative people ever, so, the opportunities to learn have been limitless.
The next couple of days were spent on proper project proposals. We had individual proposals first. Following this, was a day of free discussion. We were asked to spend that day asking each other and our mentors questions related to different projects and eventually form groups. In all honesty, IRRIGO just did not seem on par with the other projects that were presented, so I came up with some other ideas as well. One was an autonomous wheelchair for controlled environments. The concept was that I would create a wheelchair with an internal positioning system (IPS) for environments such as airports, hospitals, metro stations etc. The wheelchair would pickup a wheelchair bound user at the gate and manoeuvre them through key destinations like the security check and check in (in case of an airport). It would have exceptional applications in hospitals as well, for such a wheelchair would eliminate the need of escorts and nurses who operate the wheelchairs.
This project would have had two parts: development of an IPS, and development of a cheap electrical wheelchair. However, this was out of the scope of the time, resources and skills we would have, or be able to gain in the following 4 weeks.
Another idea was a window opacity control. This project would be designed for home and car windows. Basically, some sensors would register the light coming into the window, and based on these values, the opacity of the window would change. This was to be done using PDLC sheets. All the components weren’t available in India, so this idea was slashed too.
My third idea was a real time text to braille converter. All equipment that currently exists requires one to first save the given text and later convert it into braille or requires the text to be printed in braille in the first place. This creates a lack of available, usable and affordable technology that can convert written text into braille text in real time. I wanted to create something that can take any piece of printed text- a newspaper, book, magazine, whatever- and convert it into braille. This project would have three major parts- developing an OCR system, a refreshable braille display. This was the project that ended up being selected for prototyping.
The IIT campus is beautiful. Some of us have formed a steady group and use our breaks to check out various places to eat and visit.
The campus has so many cats.
On the first Saturday, we were left off a bit early, so a couple of us got on YULUs and toured the campus. Since the campus is so huge, everybody either cycles or uses YULUs. YULUs are basically electrical cycles. You just scan and ride them.
We rode to the other side of campus and ate ice cream. We were laughing, making awful jokes and riding around with ice cream dripping down our hands. The sense of independence I’ve felt these past few days- checking places out and travelling on my own- is refreshing. I just hope I won’t get tired of it.
Week 1 was relaxed. From week 2, things picked up some speed. More about it in the upcoming blog.