Get email delivery of the Cadence blog featured here
I was cruising through Facebook today and saw a video posted by George Takei Presents about 11 things that younger generations will never understand - basically, things that existed in the 1980’s that today's kids wouldn't get, like the floppy disk, VHS tapes, the Walkman, navigation using a fold-out map, etc.
That got me thinking. While I have some nostalgia for things that are now gone forever – like the excitement of going to the neighborhood video library fervently hoping to find a VHS copy of the movie that I had been waiting for – for the most part I am deeply thankful for the advancements in technology that have made life so much easier.
While it is no secret that technology-infused product evolution has already changed our lives, there are some unique examples from India which I thought The India Circuit readers would find interesting.
The first one is in the field of prosthetics. Indian engineers from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham University, Kollam, Kerala, have developed a lightweight robotic prosthetic prototype using rubber and nickel (picture on the left is from the Amrita University website). The device can be used to lift objects weighing up to 400 grams and perform everyday tasks such as writing and using a mobile phone. Produced using 3D printing technology, it serves as low cost option as well. According to Dr Ganesha Udupa, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Amrita University, “Nearly 50 percent [of differently abled] do not use their prosthetics regularly, due to its heavy weight and low functionality.” The prosthetic developed by his team could be an answer to this problem. While it does look a bit clunky, it is an exciting first step to more advanced prosthetic design.
The second example of how far technology has come is Bengaluru-based Raybaby, launched by a team of women entrepreneurs, which uses ultrasound to “track your baby’s breathing, movement, roll-overs and sleeping”. The product also gives valuable stats about the live respiratory rate without any direct contact with the baby, which until now could only be measured with a battery-powered sensor placed on the body—a concern for many parents. According to their website, the first three batches of Raybaby have been sold out (it seems to be currently available only in the US).
I was fascinated by this product because way back in the late 90's, when my first son was born, I remember waking up in the middle of the night to check that he was breathing. Yes, I was a bit paranoid, but I am sure I am not the only mother to have done this! The baby monitor was not much help because I could hear my son only when he was actually crying or making some noise. Today, sleep time monitoring, “nanny cams” to check on babies when the parents are at work and movement monitors that alert parents when their babies haven’t made a certain number of movements in a set time are just some of the MIS that parents have access to about their baby’s movements.
The last example is one that has been in the news for a while and is not consumer-related like the other two examples, but I am including it anyway because of the scale that the technology has been used.
As you probably know, India conducts the world’s biggest election every five years. Rather than using paper ballots, as is the case in many countries, in the last general (parliamentary) election in 2014, more than half a billion Indians cast their votes using Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) – there were no paper ballots. The election saw 1.4 million EVMs deployed across 930,000 polling stations across the country. The EVMs are touted to be tamper-proof, though there are studies to show that EVMs used in other nations have had security glitches. The government has always maintained that the EVMs are completely fraud-resistant, but nevertheless for the 2019 general election they are going to be using a Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system in addition to the EVMs so that voters can verify that their votes have been cast correctly on the EVM.
No question that exciting times lie ahead as technology continues to enrich life with the redesign of everyday products that work to transform the world and improve human welfare.