Physically handicapped individuals who have been confined to wheelchairs or had problems walking now have something to cheer about. A Chennai-based innovator has come out with a new technology that could give such people a new lease of life.
The project, supported by the Department of Scientific Industrial Research’s Technopreneur Promotion Programme (TePP), has already won accolades for S T M Veerabahu who has been honoured as one of the top 20 technology innovators of India under the age of 35 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s magazine Technology Review.
The magazine selected Veerabahu for his development of robotic wearable legs that will assist individuals who cannot walk due to polio, weakened muscles or spinal cord injuries.
Veerabahu told City Express that the device is a four-strap attachment that is fixed to the body and carries the individual. The device has a rechargeable battery and is designed to hold a weight of 85 kg, says Veerabahu, who did his masters from Anna University in electrical drives and embedded control.
Veerabahu is now planning to capitalise on his innovation by starting the commercial production of the device by the end of this year. His firm Cybernoid Technologies will launch it in the market.
And Veerabahu says the price is not astronomical. “It will cost more or less the same as a wheelchair – in the range of Rs 65,000 to Rs 1 lakh,” he says. Initially the target is to produce 3,000 such devices. “We are open to a tie-up with the State or Union government. My first job is to repay the investors and add value to the system,” says the Canada-returned technopreneur.
He says the robotic wearable legs will help the disabled sit, walk and climb stairs. The objective is to help them in their daily routines,” says Veerabahu, who did his schooling in St John’s, Villivakkam.
He says a similar innovation is is being developed in Berkeley University for defence purposes. “The Americans are planning to use it to create a super soldier under a $1-billion programme. It is yet to hit the market. My innovation is only for public good and I have so far spent `15 lakh, including the `5.5 lakh grant from the TePP. Although Veerabahu is seeking funds for commercial production, he has his hopes pinned on the second round of funding by TePP worth `45 lakh.
This is not the only innovation by the scientist. Veerabahu also developed an eyebrow-controlled wheelchair, which won him an award from the Confederation of Indian Industry.