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Big ideas from the young
Young scientists display their inventions prior to Infocom 2006

Can you imagine drinking drain water' Even it was purified a thousand times through a meticulous process, you would probably still recoil in horror. What about harnessing electricity from the vibration of bridges caused by the movement of vehicles' Or creating a three-dimensional image out of thin air' Or better still, what about doing away with your cleaning maid and using a robotic vacuum cleaner'

All this might sound way out to you, but this is what the future looks like to the brightest students from the best colleges in the country.

Outstanding innovators are bred, not born. That is especially true with industrial techniques that make their way from conception to production on a mass scale for the consumer. The National Council of Science Museums scoured the country’s best colleges and engineering institutes to find out what was on the minds of budding scientists of the future. They also received thousands of entries from students from every nook and corner of the country. Experts then sat down and sifted through the mountains of entries and short listed around 30 of the best innovations.

These inspired ideas will be on display at The Telegraph KnowHow Innovation Hub of Infocom 2006 to be held in Calcutta’s Salt Lake Stadium from December 6 to 10. Infocom has become the largest IT exposition in the country with participation by top companies worldwide. Over four days, corporate stalwarts will address conferences and share ideas with the thousands of participants. The parallel exhibition has become a top business event for the digital world. Companies showcase their IT and digital solutions for the workplace, home and leisure.

In an effort to pull in youngsters to the exhibition, Birla Industrial and Technological Museum (BITM) will show how dramatic changes through scientific innovations and discoveries have enhanced the quality of life. These “Agents of Change”, which are a culmination of thousands of years of human determination, have taught us to fly, communicate instantly over great distances, image our inner organs, produce electricity, harness nuclear energy and subdue the most vicious of diseases.

The National Council of Science Museums, the parent body of BITM, will also have a series of Fun Science exhibits in association with 26 science museums of the country. But it is their Innovation Hub which is likely to draw the largest crowd. Here are some of the interesting ideas conjured up by the bright students.

How it works: This is a small contribution to the water treatment methods in vogue. It is an indigenous bio-filter that can solve the problem of water contamination to a certain extent. The filter is designed to cut bacterial contamination by about two times and is expected to reduce (tests yet to be done) the presence of heavy metals like arsenic from public as well as private water sources. The participants have used Chlorella as a bio-film to absorb large amounts of toxic metals from water.

Team: Mainak Bose, Devika Srivastava, Angshumala Goswami, Khusbu Thapa

Micro Biology Department (2nd Year),
St Xavier’s College, Calcutta

How it works: This uses a computer-controlled camera with the aid of an image processing toolbox to photograph intruders trespassing into a protected zone. Any intrusion will set off an automatic alarm, obviating the need for security guards to keep staring at video monitors.

Team: Pramit Ghosh and Abirlal Biswas

Department of Computer Science & Engineering,
University of Calcutta

How it works: This is a new technology to assist organic waste treatment, conforming to strict environmental regulations. Using micro-organisms to deal with kitchen waste results in a higher decomposition of organic matter. This produces high quality organic fertiliser, which contributes towards sustainable development.

Team: Paramita Ghosh

Global Environment Research Foundation,
Kalyani, Nadia

How it works: This device converts magnetic energy into kinetic and then to electrical energy. It can be used to power scooters, motorbikes and cars. The researcher says that with this device, a new generation of environment-friendly cars and bikes can be built that will not require any fuel.

Team: Parbesh Mandal

S.E.S. Research Institute, Dhankhetti,
Garden Reach, Calcutta

How it works: The process of converting drain water into drinking water is quite laborious. It encompasses a wide range of purification processes but, more importantly, faith has to be generated in common people that the purified drain water is 100 per cent safe and potable. The student will reveal more only at the exhibition.

Team: Sulalit Banerjee

Chemical Engineering (1st year),
Jadavpur University

How it works: This is a mathematical software that helps students minimise their effort in solving a problem. Different numerical methods are used to find solutions to mathematical problems, such as integration, differentiation, matrix operations, curve drawing and solutions to equations.

Team: Avishek Patra and Subhasish Dutta

Computer Science & Engineering, Calcutta Institute of Technology,
Banitabla, Uluberia, Howrah

How it works: Using the basic ideas in physics, energy is extracted from the vibration of a bridge caused by the movement of vehicles. It is converted into electrical energy without using any external power supply.

Team: Padmesh Sewda

Automobile Engineering,
MCKV Institute of Engineering.

How it works: The project aims at making a transparent online state or district ranking list by taking data solely from state government sources. This web-based system simplifies the exhaustive task of data gathering, which is then analysed using statistical ranking methodology. Since the online merit list serves as a reference to those in administrative and financial planning, such a system will be highly useful to industrialists, financers, investors and even tourists.

Team: Alok Patnaik , Harish Surana, Vinay Kuruvilla
MNIT, Jaipur

How it works: Nicknamed Pratham, this Humanoid Robotic Arm is aimed at developing a fully automated, intelligent system, which can interact with its surroundings and perform jobs like a normal human arm . Electro-mechanical components like DC motors, metal wires and gears have been used for different physical movements. The robotic arm comprises the shoulder, forearm, back arm, hand, wrist and fingers. A computerised control unit has the relay, processing and command modules, along with the power supply.

Team: Vineet Nagrath

Computer Science & Engineering (3rdyear),
Bharati Vidyapeeth’s College of Engineering, New Delhi

How it works: The device consists of a traffic signal with a transmitter and a receiver in the car. As the car approaches a traffic signal, the receiver picks up the radio frequency signal from the transmitter and limits the car’s speed to 10 or 20 kmph with the help of an embedded microprocessor. This can be useful in preventing accidents with all traffic signals fitted with a radio frequency transmitter.

Team: Gagandeep Kaur Saini, Parmeesh Kaur, Ravinder Kaur

Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College,
Ludhiana

How it works: The device creates a real image (one, two or three-dimensional) on 3D space, say, air or vacuum, instead of on a screen. It uses gas emitters for producing different colours, and beam emitters, which emit high-energy light beam. A computer with custom-built software is used to analyse and choose the coordinates of the image, gas emitter, beam emitter, best angle of emission, type of gas for colours and concentrations. Owing to interference, a coloured dot or pixel is created in the 3D space. The computer is programmed to set a time delay in the case of a continuous image, thus forming a real image in thin air.

Team: Ghanisht Yasu

BSc. (Hons.), Physics,
Hindu College, Delhi

How it works: This is a low-cost household device that can be used as a butter chiller, juice mixer and stirrer. It is very simple and easy to operate. The device consumes less electrical power and would cost only Rs 200, compared with those available in the market for any thing between Rs 600 and Rs 900.

Team: S. Vinay, S. Chakravarthi Varma, S.Vikram

S.R.K.R. Engineering College,
AndhraPradesh.

How it works: The c ontroller area networking (CAN) can be used to connect controller units with sensors and actuators in industrial plants where extensive data system are employed to measure, collect, transmit and display information. It uses a master controller to communicate with three slave devices. The innovators explained that the master and slave devices are used to monitor parameters like temperature and humidity. The CAN serial communication bus is popular in automotive, manufacturing and aerospace industries.

Team: Mythili M.S., Praveen M.V., Radhika C.A.

Instrumentation Technology,
MSR Institute of Technology, Bangalore

How it works:This is a robotic vehicle which carries a vacuum cleaner on board. The vehicle is controlled by the user through a PC. The PC is interfaced to the vehicle through a radio frequency transmitter-receiver. An on-board switching circuit controls the forward/backward movement and left/right motion of the vehicle.

Team: Vabhishek K. Rajpal, Abhishek P, Ajay Anthony,

MSR Institute of Technology,
Bangalore

How it works: The programmable nut driver consists of an actuator that can screw and unscrew a bolt or tighten and loosen a nut. The actuator can be programmed for tightening the bolt or nut to the right extent to avoid excess torque and thus prevent failures, the young scientists said elaborating on their invention.

Team: Kumar Dilip B.R., Zoheb Kareem C., Shantidoot Navadge, Projjal Gupta,

MSR Institute of Technology,
Bangalore

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