Career fair workshop

As analogue synths go, its pretty easy to make albeit time-consuming.

Saurabh and Arun demonstrated Caddisfly along with a bunch of hacks at the Career Fair Workshop organized by Quest Alliance.

Says Saurabh – “Last week, Arun and I did a workshop at a career fair for ITI (Industrial Training Institute) graduates, … at Freedom Park (Bangalore)…”

“… ITIs are government-run colleges that provide students with the basic skills to do the job of, say, an operator or craftsman.”

“It was organized by Quest Alliance, an NGO that works with Design in Education…”

Read the whole story.

Understanding the problem

Its important to educate people about fluoride, its harmful effects, and how to mitigate it.

Avinash Krishnamurthy of S3IDF spoke to us about the work that he, and his organization, are doing in Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh.

Avinash and S3IDF are evaluating an activated alumina fluoride filter that can be used to remove excess fluoride from drinking water. However, for Avinash, this is more than a mere project to blindly implement. He has spent considerable time and effort in understanding what solutions are out there, how people are coping, etc. before deciding that the filter is a good option.

Avinash passionately believes that testing for fluoride is much more than a simple exercise in determining fluoride levels. Testing can be a very useful tool to educate people about fluoride, its harmful effects, and how to mitigate it.

The video below shows Avinash employing just such an approach.

Beginnings III: The shape of things to come

We had one important question that everyone threw at us: Who's the customer?

This is part three of a series that describes our beginnings. The earlier posts are available here and here.

Once we had taken the decision to make our testing kit a commercial product, we had one important question that everyone threw at us: Who’s the customer?

Very early in the process, we decided that we would keep the price of the product low. As low as we possibly can. An obvious market is large apartment complexes that are running out of water and often source water from the water tanker industry.

Urban and rural poor are the ones who suffer the most from drinking unsuitable water. Unfortunately, they are the least able to afford water testing and treatment. Our customers are therefore non profits working in the areas of health and water, small enterprises that provide clean drinking water, and Government.

Our ultimate aim is to provide communities with the tools to help them evolve their own locally relevant solutions.

Beginnings II: The Decision to start a Business

After some read up and talking to people about water quality, I soon realized that Fluoride in water is a big problem

This is part 2 of a series that describes our beginnings. Read part 1 – The Beginnings: Demonstrating at the Water Hackathon of October 2011.

Our goal for the Water Hackathon, described in the previous post was simple: Demonstrate that an inexpensive, automated water testing kit was possible, and I think we were able to show that. Our very name “Jugaad Sensors” reflected that thinking. At the time, it was a fun project, and nothing else. We all had full time jobs or classes to return to.

The trouble is that it just kept working at the back of my mind. I began to read up and ask people about water quality, and Fluoride in water in particular. I soon realized that this is a big problem.

These are figures for India alone.

I soon found that there is a huge gap in testing for Fluoride. On the one hand, there are chemical reagent tests that are portable and inexpensive, but are inconvenient, hard to use and prone to human error. On the other hand, are Ion Selective Electrode testing devices that are not always portable, expensive, but easier to use. It was some time in December 2011, that I made the decision that we must develop our idea into a water testing kit, simply because it just has to be done. This was an idea that resonated with many others, and we took a decision, in principle, that we would go ahead.

Update: Part III – The shape of things to come is now up.

Beginnings I: Water Hackathon of October 2011

The project we chose was slightly unusual - build low cost water quality tests that were better or cheaper than existing methods.

This is the first of a series of posts, where I will recount our story. Hopefully, this will help set some context for our endeavor.

The Water Hackathon of October 22-23 2011, in India was held at IIIT, Bangalore. This was jointly organized by IIHS, India Water Portal and WSP. We took part as team Jugaad Sensors.

Our team comprised a bunch of artists, designers and a couple of programmers, including some students fro Srishti. The project we chose was slightly unusual – build low cost, home made water quality tests that were better or cheaper than existing methods. Over the course of the hackathon, we developed and demonstrated a simple kit that cost very little, and is potentially more reliable than commonly used chemical testing methods. We created an Android app that would read from the kit via bluetooth, and post these values with location data onto a central database and mapped.

We used Arduino boards, and commodity, off-the-shelf electronics for the testing kit. I will make available more details and code available as we go on, because Caddisfly will be an open source project, which is a story for another time.

Update: The next part Beginnings II: The Decision to start a Business is now available.