Atul Modi, a textile factory worker in Gujarat’s Jamnagar, lost his voice to throat cancer, but not his hope.
Atul had to undergo laryngectomy – removal of the voice box or larynx – to get rid of the cancer.
However, simple artificial speaking valve developed by a Bengaluru-based start-up Innaumation helped Modi restore his voice and return to regale his friends with jokes and anecdotes with renewed vigour.
Developed by Vishal US Rao and Shashank Mahesh, the Aum Voice Prosthesis is a low cost speaking device inserted into the small opening in the throat called stoma.
“When pressure is applied on the prosthesis using the thumb, the air from the windpipe passes through the food pipe and starts vibrating to produce voice,” said Rao, the co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Innaumation.
Rao and Mahesh developed the voice prosthesis device as an Indian alternative to the similar expensive devices sourced from foreign countries.
The high costs of the imported prosthesis made restoration of voice for patients undergoing laryngectomy out of reach of those from the economically weaker sections.
“The Aum Voice Prosthesis costs Rs 8,000 and comes with a bunch of accessories,” said Mahesh, the co-founder and Director of Innaumation.
He said that imported devices were available in the range of Rs 35,000-40,000 without any complementary accessories.
Since it was set up in 2016, the Aum Voice Prosthesis has helped restore the voice of more than 700 patients, mostly from economically weaker sections of the society.
Mahesh and Rao now plan to take their innovation to foreign shores and aim to create the ‘Aum Voice Chain’.
The innovator duo received help to scale up their invention from AssisTech Foundation’s (ATF) Enable Acceleration Programme.
“ATF was able to help Innaumation team on operating plan to increase the reach of their product, formulate innovative distribution methods, provide opportunity to partner with Karnataka government and help it get selected in the Tamil Nadu’s Start Up-to-Government initiative,” Prateek Madhav, co-founder and CEO of AssisTech Foundation said.