BENGALURU: Paul D’souza skipped his final year to take care of his ailing father. The college dropout went beyond his education, as he studied mechanics, but his work involves electronics. He has invented several patented machines such as a Gherkin Sorting Machine, Mechanical Perpetual Calendar, Three Large Date Display Mechanisms and the Multi-Line Refreshable Braille Display.
“Education is just a side asset. It is a minimum requirement to get a job. Sometimes, it can be an added bonus,” says Paul, who was never one to follow the herd.
From an early age, he used to read about the lives of inventors in encyclopedias. He is particularly inspired by Thomas Edison. “I like how the gramophone was invented to announce his vegetable cart’s arrival. He did not have any formal education either,” said Paul.
Paul’s best-known invention, the Multi-Line Refreshable Braille Display, came as a result of a chance interaction with Sakiya, the famous German blind woman on Oprah Winfrey’s most inspirational list.
The relationship with the organisation also culminated in a friendship with a young called Tiffany, who motivated him to invent a currency counting device for the blind.
The device is shaped like a credit card. When a note is folded over the card, the length of the note can be measured and denomination guessed.
While working with as a programmer that exported Gherkins, he noticed that the machines manufacturing them were 30 feet long and would delay production.
“While wandering into the factory to observe how things functioned, it struck me that if the production machines were decreased in size, the productivity would increase,” he said. And it did just that at a rapid pace as daily gherkin production increased to two tonnes. “ I was young and restless. I was just happy they were buying my machine,” he said.
Years later, Paul who has a fondness for watches, saw an advertisement in the British Horological Journal by the Swiss company Breguet, calling for submissions to revolutionise the watch industry which had remained unchanged for 100 years.
His contribution was the Mechanical Perpetual Calendar, which has an automatic mechanism to switch to the next month after 30 days.
“Generally, one has to manually change the digits indicating the date at the month end, but my invention automatically changes the date to 1 or 31,” he said.
“Though I did not win, I was invited to Switzerland to meet the watchmakers of Breguet. I met George Daniel, who is considered the greatest watchmaker of all time. He asked me to mail him back,” he said. His tryst with watches did not end there. He went on to enlarge the display of the timings through the Three Large Date Display Mechanisms. “I increased the plates at the bottom to increase the visibility of the dates,” said Paul.