Kaviraj Prithvi, a Bengaluru resident and IIT-Guwahati student, was looking for an idea to help the disabled for a college project about a year ago. When he visited one of his city’s blind schools and interacted with the students and teachers, the 20-year-old realised what the institute lacks: a cost-effective mechanism for printing texts.
“Even the basic braille printers, which are mostly imported, cost between $2,000 – $3,000 (~Rs 1,50,000 – 2,50,000). The majority of special schools in India run on a tight budget which makes it impossible for them to import printers. After the school visit, I felt an urge to fill this gap and help the students in any possible way,” says Kaviraj, the final year Physics student.
Kaviraj was always enthusiastic about new ideas. He discovered this talent in high school and nurtured it throughout his life. Being on an IIT campus inspired him to do more, which led to the formation of a company called ‘Prithvi Systems and Innovations,’ which he founded with some of his friends.
Kaviraj says that it was a coincidence that he visited a blind school while searching for new ideas of innovation. “While being there, I felt like doing something useful for the students and I started asking them some random questions. Even the teachers were not fully able to articulate their need to have easy access to braille printed texts which would benefit the students a lot. Reaching back to the hostel, I put together everything they said and arrived at a low-budget braille printer idea,” he explains.
According to the founder, Prithvi Innovations’ braille printer will “cost 20 to 30 times less than an imported one.” “The innovation is currently in the prototype stage.” Once completed, it could run for 8 to 12 months,” he adds.
It is a mouse-sized portable printer called ‘Tactall.’ It receives data from computer devices, converts it to braille, and then prints it on paper using solenoids. Another unique feature of Kavin’s invention is that it can print on pages of any size, whereas standard braille printers can only print on A4 sheets.
The youngsters’ invention has already received interest for trials from the same school Kaviraj visited last year and from an NGO in Guwahati. “We are happy that our innovation is going to help hundreds of students all over the country. We consider making their lives easy as our responsibility,” he adds.
The innovation was named the Best Social Impact Business Idea at the SmartIDEAthon 2022, a nationwide pitch competition organised by Startup India in collaboration with several Indian universities. Kaviraj’s team was one of 1,200 groups shortlisted for the festival.
The team’s new inventions – a blood pressure monitor and a unique wheelchair – are under construction. Speaking about the inventions, he says, “The monitor is a non-invasive blood pressure monitoring system. The wheelchair, on the other hand, is not a conventional wheelchair but a suspension system designed specifically for wheelchairs. It can be used in other support vehicles as well. A rotor system for
helicopters which will allow easier rescue operations by lessening troubles while transporting patients is another one on our list.”
After course completion, Kaviraj hopes to continue with his innovations and run his company more efficiently. “I would employ more young brains and we would collectively work to make the lives of the disabled a bit easier,” he says.