Twenty-one year old Shrey Fadia from Gujarat State, India, a recent graduate from one of the most reputable engineering colleges in India (L.D. College of Engineering) a self-professed entrepreneur had a vision which began in his college days. To make a product that can be helpful to the physically challenged and elderly by providing them with independence. When asked how he came up with the initial idea, he said:
‘Being an engineering student, I always talked with my friends about making something amazing as every engineering student thinks about. I have a passion for doing something and that drove me to make this product. When deciding on which product to make, we had a discussion to suggest some innovative ideas, products that would be useful, various ideas began pouring in! Finally we decided upon the Smart Wheelchair as the market in India is in need of such products. The idea about the wheelchair stuck in my mind after seeing several challenged and disabled children at the Blind People Association, struggling to move about from their current position. They either seek the help of someone or need to be hard and careful when starting off. Meanwhile, there were some wheelchairs (manual) placed there and I got to an idea to make it ‘smart’ and hence the name Smart Wheelchair. Many thoughts were running through my head at this point, about features and how to make it practical in particular.’
So what is this Smart Wheelchair? As in the product description, the Smart Wheelchair aims to eliminate the need for another person to push the wheelchair as well as removing the physical effort one needs to operate their chair by installing a gesture control and obstacle avoidance system.
In order to do this he created a project on Collaborizm asking for help from within the community and for advice on areas that he wasn’t so skilled at. With Shrey leading the project and help and advice coming in from other Collaborizm users, it wasn’t long before a prototype was in development.
‘I got to know about Collaborizm through Facebook. There were many advertisements about Collaborizm and I saw that many people liked them. So I opened one to see why people were interested and what exactly it is. Then I saw many likeminded people on the platform. Many enthusiastic people were posting their projects and so I made up my mind to post mine too. Eventually, by showing progress on my work, I was fortunate enough to receive some funding from the Collaborizm team. I am so grateful for this.’
‘I would like to share one that on one occasion, while analysing the problems the children and adults were facing, we noticed them performing some unbelievable tasks and we were all stunned seeing how these people were managing to do so by overcoming many difficulties. We all became so emotional seeing a guy who was climbing a slope with a board wheel by putting his hand down on the ground at regular intervals so that he could stop the opposing force and climb it further to reach the end.’
The project began initially by trying to implement all the technical features on a small robot, by making it use a mechanical sheet and simple motors. It was built just to check whether it runs successfully or not and in Shrey’s own words ‘the results were outstanding!’ During this time DTMF modules, Bluetooth, RF/TF modules and Arduino was used. After, a big piece of plywood sheet was used to check whether or not the same system could be used with a slightly heavier load and the outcome was positive. The final stage was implementing the intelligent electronic system on a wheelchair (though a person cannot sit on it right now), it boosted their confidence to move ahead and make a real product which a person can sit on and operate themselves.
Shrey has had an overwhelming response to the project primarily from his college principal and once the project was created, from the Collaborizm team, particularly mentor Steven Rubenstone and other active members of the community. He also received funding from the Collaborizm Innovator Fund to buy some components and move the project forward. Recently he has had keen interest from Cynthia Artin, whose job is to create strategic, clear and effective communications programs in order to help companies and individuals build visibility and momentum through a steady stream of well-crafted communications programs and products. With regular communication between Shrey and Cynthia, he and his father have been invited to the IOT World Conference in Las Vegas which is going to be held in July of this year.
‘I was very happy to hear this as this has opened new doors and given me opportunities. I am honoured and thankful to Mam Cynthia for this.’