The Thinking Wheelchair

Chivalrous Humanitarian Ideological Loiter Device. The term may not mean much at first glance but the innovation it stands for, has the power to empower millions of disabled people around the world. 

CHILD is a multiple-utility based system that helps people unable to walk, to move around independently. It consists of a motion control based on Gesture, Strain, IFR Remote and Dual-tone Multi-frequency signalling. A Haptic Arm and Tray has been attached to help the visually impaired avoid obstacles while navigating. The system is also RFID and password enabled to ensure user security. 

Udhay Shanakar, creator of CHILD

The innovation is the result of one boy’s experience of watching his father struggle to live a life of dignity while consigned to the wheelchair. When Udhay Shankar saw his father, a cancer patient, grappling everyday with this inability to be independent he knew he had to do something about it. The experience shaped his entire approach to innovation. 

“The dependency on wheel chairs in India is on the rise,” says the 20-year-old from Coimbatore. “The motto was to help physically challenged people to be as independent as possible. Secondly, to ease human effort and add a comfort factor to their daily lives.” 

Udhay is currently pursuing his Bachelors in Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineering at the PSG College of Technology in Coimbatore and CHILD, which won the Grand Jury Award at Innovation Jockeys this year is merely the beginning of his efforts at empowering those he can.

“Currently my friends and I are trying to set up an NGO called TRY (The Revolutionary Youth), which is aimed at teaching the orphans and underprivileged children Robotics, MS Office, writing mails and using the search engines,” he explains. 

Apart from empathy, the quality that defines Udhay is ambition. Armed with sound technical skills he doesn’t shy away from taking on big projects. Works in the pipeline include an innovation called AGRO which is aimed at reducing the transportation losses incurred in the transportation of fruits and vegetables. Meanwhile, DESTRO is meant to cater to ‘defence and security applications at houses, industries, etc. “It has the ability to attack, detect obstacles within 10m range (Using LASER) and navigate by itself with override options. It can pick objects and carry them and finally attach the target.” Udhay explains. Another one is SENSE which is about ‘home and industry automation.’ The aim is ‘monitoring water, electricity and gas consumption online and so online payment is made easy.’

So where does this appetite for innovation come from? 

“The most important thing is to understand the pain of others and take it up as your own. Believe that every problem has a solution,” says the young engineer. “Spend some time thinking of the possible ways to solve it. Analyze the merits and demerits. The scope of any innovation revolves around cost, performance and utility. The solution’s simplicity is its essence.” 

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