A timely scientific intervention by a group of engineering students in Bengaluru was picked as the winner of the national-level Chhatra Vishwakarma Awards after their innovation helped kirana shopkeepers and customers to keep Covid-19 from spreading.
The team of budding innovators from Bengaluru’s CMR Institute of Technology (CMRIT) had presented their project under the category “Promote Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises to Achieve the Mission of Atmanirbhar Bharat”. Their product ‘Advanced UV Sanitisation Chamber’, a box enabling sanitisation of currency notes and other items, was picked as the winner among thousands of other entries by the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) recently.
Used in 5 villages of #Karnataka's #Chikkaballapura district, this sanitisation box used majorly to disinfect currency notes at kirana shops has helped authorities keep #Covid19 spread in check to an extend, student innovators from #Bengaluru's CMRIT said. @IndianExpress pic.twitter.com/fWEbg9nvjY
— Ralph Alex Arakal (@ralpharakal) September 16, 2021
“While most sanitisation chambers that are available in the market use only ultraviolet rays to sanitise the items, we have developed a technology to use multimetals (panchaloha alloys — gold, silver, copper, zinc and iron) in close proximity with the UV rays. This generates vapour that gets deposited on the currency notes and other articles giving an extra layer of protection to the users,” S Shweta Shree, a third-year computer science student who leads the six-member team told The Indian Express.
She added that the team has applied to get a patent for this usage and would manufacture more units as the demand for the product is rising. “More people have now become aware of the good effects of using these boxes as the word has spread from five villages in Chikkaballapur district to their surrounding areas,” she said.
According to Professor Phani Kumar Pallela, a mentor of the team, the students had set out to develop the product after realising that villagers and small business owners were concerned about handling currency notes during the pandemic. “With digital payments an alien option to them, the local administration was also looking for means to ensure kirana stores do not become a source of the spread of Covid-19. This is when the team began developing the product and then visited different villages to train them how to use the product and collect feedback,” he said.
The team initially visited Chinnasandra village during September last year to distribute a few boxes to kirana shopkeepers in the area, guided by the concerned Panchayat Development Officer (PDO). Rahul S Mahendrakar, another third-year computer science student, remembers how the village was grappling with fear as the virus began spreading among the people there, due to its proximity to the highway connecting Bengaluru with Chikkaballapura.
“We took our first prototype which could sanitise only currency notes to Chinnasandra but shopkeepers there demanded they wanted a system which would help them sanitise other articles like mobile phones, keychains, and wallets that are used commonly. This is when we reworked the design and developed another version of the same with light indicators,” he explained.
Similar studies were carried out in four other villages — Doddaganjur, Kuruboor, Upparpet, and Kagathi — in Chintamani taluk of the district after which, a total of 209 such sanitisation boxes were supplied to the villagers free of cost.
To the team’s delight, the spread of the infection was seen to be dropping drastically as the risk of kirana shops closing down due to Covid-19 was also controlled. “Village Development Officers and other officials from these villages soon reached out to us attributing a part of their successful containment measures to our innovation,” Zain Ahmed N, another member of the team said.
The team — which also comprises students Nitish Srujan, Vidhyashree V and Amrutha C K with professors D Kodandapani, Srinivas Reddy and Chidhananda R S as other mentors from various disciplines — has developed two models of the product with the name Sanbox”20.
While a patent has been filed for the second model with an integrated timer to avoid direct human contact with UV light and multimetal alloys, the team is at present designing a wire-frame design that can be adjustable according to the size of the items that need to be sanitised.