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Big beetle in bonnet for youth power

Are phone votes a reliable barometer for talent?

Originally from Ranchi, 19-year-old Suvayan Nandi had in November sought phone votes for his green, clean energy innovation to win Mahindra’s Spark the Rise, an online contest for change-makers.

Alumnus of DAV-Hehal and JVM-Shyamali, now a second-year mechatronics student at Manipal Institute of Technology, Karnataka, Suvayan got only 1,109 votes and missed a grant of Rs 2 lakh as he fell short by nearly 400 votes.

The innovator from Lalpur Chowk had presented a technical yet engaging presentation on piezoelectric energy harvesting — converting mechanical strain into electric current or voltage — before an expert jury, including 1996 Nobel-winning physicist Douglas D. Osheroff.

But his idea caught the antenna of two non-conventional energy firms, one from Chennai and the other from Kerala.

They’ve asked him to build a working model.

What Suvayan proposed was this.

If piezoelectric tiles are installed on the gates of Delhi station with a daily footfall of over four lakh, the vibrations will generate enough power for 10,500 tube lights to glow for 24 hours.

Basically, Suvayan wanted to leverage overcrowded India into powerful India.

“Four lakh footsteps on 270sqft of piezoelectric tiles generate 1,400KW power. Tiles cost Rs 1,500 per sqft,” he said.

Osheroff loved it. Phone voters didn’t share his enthusiasm. Industry interest helped Suvayan get over the vote debacle.

He has not given up on the voting talent platform either.

He and four friends from Manipal floated a grand idea for the Mahindra contest that got selected as the December “spark”.

“Cyborg spy beetle,” Suvayan said enthusiastically when asked about the new brainwave. “If we insert a 10gm micro-control recorder in a 10-cm African beetle, it can be a useful spy on enemy territory. The microchip will control the beetle’s flight. We’ll get to know data from inaccessible areas.”

Piezoelectric power harvesting is something that western scientists are mulling over. Suvayan had added his own pragmatic inputs to the idea.

But the African beetle with a light chip fitted on its brain is worthy of a spy thriller.

Phone voters will get a number soon. If James Bond could vote, he would have. And convinced M and all the M16 guys to chip in.