Museum kindles spirit of innovation

New ideas showcased in Rashtrapati Bhavan

Museum kindles spirit of innovation
Robo dog Clumsy developed by Haryana teenager steals the thunder

Arsh Shah Dilbagi from Haryana, who has just finished his Class XII  from DAV Public School in Panipat, is a roboticist, ideator and creative technologist. He is a rising star since he developed a unique device that can convert breath into speech and help people who have lost their ability to speak for reasons like paralysis stroke communicate.

This innovative device, called “Talk”, won Dilbagi an award of 1,000  US dollars at Google’s World Science Fair in 2014. It later fetched him other international honours, including an award of 1,000 US dollars as first prize from the American Intellectual Property Law Association and Third Grand Award of 1000 US dollars at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.   Well-known in science circles today, Dilbagi is not the only wonder teen who has broken the barriers of rote learning to turn his innovative ideas into reality, despite the old system of education still persisting in most of the schools in the country.

Visit “Navachara (new idea)”, a science and innovation museum at Rashtrapati Bhavan, to see many more young Indian innovators who have earned international recognition for their science and engineering projects over the past few years.

The museum, first-of-its-kind in the country showcasing the innovative projects of these young scientists, was recently inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee and thrown open for visitors to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Set up in collaboration with the Intel, Navachara projects these high school achievers as examples of excellence, seeking to inspire and encourage other youngsters to take up the path of scientific innovation and discovery.

“I am sure this will go a long way in encouraging experiential learning among children and inspire them to innovate.  The smart devices on display in the gallery will help kindle the spirit of exploration and inculcate a scientific temper in tomorrow's innovators,” Mukherjee said at the inauguration. 

Mukherjee’s confidence had its reasons. A close look at the works of the young innovators, displayed at the museum, would make anyone wonder if it was possible for a school boy to conceive and develop such a highly technical and intricate idea.  

Imagine a drum that can be played without even touching it! Three high school students Rushi Mistry, Dhrumil Bhandari and Jairaj Mehra from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, have developed an exactly same thing—a virtual tabla.

Kept on display at the museum, this unique item has become quite popular among the young visitors. Infrared sensors and a development micro-processor of Intel have been used to create this wonder instrument. Then, on the other side of the room, visitors have a stringless piano to play. Similar to the virtual tabla, it is also a sensor activated musical instrument that can be played without touching its keys. It has a wireless touch-sensitive electric sound producer that responds to action mechanisms to play the instrument in thin air like a regular piano. 

 “These musical instruments have drawn much curiosity among children visiting the museum,” senior scholar and guide at Rashtrapati Bhavan Rosy Gupta told Deccan Herald.

At the museum, there is also a 3D printer placed at one corner to stir up the imagination of young visitors as it produces four different plastic-made objects with just one command.

Developed by Creatorbot, a joint venture of Varun Sivaram and Krishna Teja in Bengaluru, this 3D printer is pre-programmed for producing a three-dimensional solid objects from a digital file by laying out successive layers of plastic material until the entire object is created.

However, the centre of attraction at the museum is robo dog Clumsy, which resembles a real dog and does yoga besides playing around all day. It also barks and says good night before going to sleep!   Clumsy walks, squats and jumps with the help of 16 servo motors which work as its muscles. It can listen, see and sense its surroundings with help of various sensors installed in its body. A big microcontroller has been installed in the Clumsy’s body to enable it to “think”. A computer programme has been stored in this microcontroller take inputs from different sensors and allows Clumsy to function. “I always loved dogs and wanted to have one at my home too. After my dad did not agree for it, I ended up making the robo dog,” Dilbagi said wittingly when asked what inspired him to develop Clumsy.

Though the museum is set up in a small room, it literally has the world of big ideas on display. It prominently showcases pictures and details of 19 young Indian science wizards who have minor planets named after them, a rare honour, shared by the likes of CV Raman, Homi Bhabha, Vikram Sarabhai and MGK Menon. The Lincoln Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has mortalised these young minds in recognition to their innovative ideas. 

 “I am grateful to the government for recognising my efforts,” Daksh Dua, a resident of Delhi, who has a minor planet 31431 named after him. Teeming up with his schoolmate in Delhi Abhishek Verma, Dua had worked on a project that showcased how use of a common herb Rubus Ellipticus could more effectively treat Giardiasis, a gastrointestinal disease, compared to the available medicines.

A first year engineering student in electronics and communication at Christ University Bengaluru, Dua says he aspires to combine technology with medicine in future.    The museum also has “talking wall” and a “planet wall” to arouse curiosity among visitors about various discoveries and the mechanics of innovations through an interactive audio-visual display. 

And, then its time for fun near the exit as a one can take selfie with the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the backdrop and instantly get it via mail using the Intel RealSense 3D camera installed on the wall.      “You could be the next,” a message prominently left on an empty photo frame at the museum, however, will remain a reminder to the young visitors that they too can dare to imagine the impossible.

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