Design for Scale Expo
The Innovation for Poverty Alleviation Lab (IPAL) at Information Technology University (ITU) hosted the Design for Scale Expo on Saturday, 25th July, 2015. The expo showcased innovative products developed by students in the Design for Scale course. Design for Scale is a unique course offered at ITU that aims to equip students with the skill and theory required to use design, to create products which could offer effective solutions to developing world problems.
Students presented projects that made use of innovative cross-disciplinary research and applied technological solutions for complex, locally relevant problems. These projects included crowdsourcing solutions, flood surveillance systems, safety add-on for machinery and tech based mobility aid for the visually impaired. The presenters received critique, encouragement and suggestions from an esteemed panel of judges including Gwendolyn Kulick from Beaconhouse National University, Mustafa Naseem from IPAL and Saad Idrees from the World Bank.
The first project titled Let’s Help came up with a crowd funding solution that makes use of cell phones and mobile apps. The aim of the presenters was to find the easiest way of donating money to boost fundraising performance. They came to the conclusion that there was no trend of donating money either online or through a mobile app in Pakistan, so they came up with the idea for Let’s Help to address this problem. Another project focused on using innovative products to create an injury free environment for workers. According to a recent survey, workers in the agricultural sector receive the most significant injuries including amputations, electrocutions and even death. The startup called MecaSafe: Makers of Safety Add-On’s for perilous Ag-Techinvented a safety add-on for chaff cutting machines. MecaSafe came up with a hand detection system that can be attached to most chaff machines. If a hand comes too close to the sharp blades, then the add-on detects the hand, applies the brakes and turns the chaff cutting machine off immediately to prevent amputation of limbs. This startup has no direct competitors in the market at the moment and has addressed a pressing concern in the workforce. A hand detection system, like the one MecaSafe has come up with can prevent injuries and save the lives of the workforce, especially of those living in developing countries with poor healthcare.
Another group presented their work on NavCane: Tech Based Mobility Aid for the Visually Impaired. This is going to be the first product of its kind in Pakistan and their aim is to improve the lives of the visually impaired one step at a time. NavCane is an attachment to a white cane that can guide the visually impaired in navigation. This attachment has two features: obstacle detection and direction finder. NavCane’s closest competitors are companies based in India and the United Kingdom but NavCane provides more features at a lower cost. This product has the potential to have a tremendous impact on the lives of the visually impaired living in Pakistan and it has paired up with the Pakistan Association of the Blind.
The last presentation was on Aqua Eye: Flood Surveillance System. Pakistan has suffered catastrophic damage from floods in recent years and there is a lack of an early warning system. The existing sonar system cost around 380 million rupees and it is only present in 13 locations at the moment. The presenters highlighted how the existing manual systems don’t work so their flood surveillance system would not only remove human error but it would also provide accurate warning to Pakistani citizens through SMS.
The judges examined the working prototypes of each project and provided helpful, constructive feedback. The event was well attended by students, academics and industry professionals.