Top 5 Maker Projects from India’s First Maker Faire!

By Kevin B George

best maker projects

The Mini Maker Faire organized by Nasscom and Workbench Projects took place in Bangalore on 15 Oct at Taj Vivanta, Yeswanthpur. It was the first Maker Faire that India hosted. One of the most important attributes witnessed at the Faire was the range of age groups that participated. This showed how age is not a barrier for passion and how much the maker culture is catching on in our country. Each stall was hugely different from another and seemed like a handpicked assortment of the best maker projects seen around. The faire showcased a stunning array of projects that clearly showed the amount of punch that India packs in terms of maker potential. From little kids with minion like energy to senior makers who have held the spirit up high, we saw them all under one roof.

Since we cannot show them all to you, we have here cut down the list to the 5 Best Maker Projects from the Faire. Scroll down to be dumbfound by the talent!! :)

Refreshable Braille Reader : The Holy Grail of Braille!

Best Maker Projects

1. Two versions of the Single Line Refreshable Braille Display(SLRBD) 2. Paul with Chandana and her mother Latha

We cannot but start off the best maker projects list without the first post being the most humanitarian of them all. Its a refreshable braille display for the visually impaired made by Paul D’Souza, a serial inventor and one of the most chilled out makers we found there. After starting his inventing career with a compact gherkin (pickled cucumber) sorting machine and moving on to invent more gadgets in his passionate field of mechanical horology (art/science of measuring time), he was inspired to do the impossible. An e-book reader for the visually impaired. An affordable Refreshable Braille Display did not exist previously. This device is the tactile equivalent of a computer monitor. This dream device has been referred to as the ‘Holy Grail of Braille’ within the visually impaired community. The device is an affordable and easily operated word to Braille converter which helps visually impaired persons to read in the digital world just like anyone else. This also helps them to keep a digital library of convenience as opposed to the huge space requirements of Braille books. Check out a video demo of the system:

“The actual proof of concept device was made as a challenge to those who said ‘it cannot be done’”, he says. He made a 5 line proof of concept device and is now in the process of making an entry level commercial version. At the Maker Faire stall, we met his friend Chandana Chandrashekhar who is studying B.com at the Mt. Carmel college in Bangalore. She lost her sight as a young child. She tested the device for us and read out the text, ” Literacy, illiteracy, with braille you can feel the difference”. Trust us, we could really feel the difference. :)

3D Projection Mapping : Watch Kathakali come alive!

Best maker projects

Kathakali is one of the most iconic art forms of  Kerala and yet not many of us have seen for real the nuances of this story telling play. This combined with his love for digital and electronic art forms is what fired up young Philip C Philip,  a cinematography graduate form the MET Film School in London, to moonlight our native art forms in the digital format. His stall at the faire was a dim lit enclosure, with a projector at one end and a plain white 3D model of a kathakali face at the other. Seemed ordinary. But then he switched on the projector and the face came to life complete with traditional face paint and head gear. It was truly a visual treat to see the life like face change its expressions subtly, to play the “Dushasana Vadham”. You can catch a video of what we saw over here:

“The main aim of the project was to take Kathakali to more people outside Kerala. This is no substitute for the real Kathakali experience but more like a test dose. It is a condensed 3 minute version of the 3 hour play Dushasana Vadham”, says Philip. He is a Kochiite currently based out of Bangalore.

Objectable : A simple interactive table from Sapient Nitro

Best maker projects

Modern day has lead us to interact more and more with computers, making them our reliable companions for many daily tasks. Now how much easier would it be if they were more like us than machines. See, hear and interact like us. That is exactly what these space age youth at Kepler (Sapient Nitro India’s Experience Innovation Lab) are trying to achieve. ObjecTable as they call it is a system they have developed using a webcam and computer vision algorithms to convert any normal table into an interactive surface that enables human-machine interaction via simple daily-life objects placed on it. The computer understands these objects and comprehends them to provide relevant information based on the context. On this interface they have created various experiences, like a map of places to go-around that can be explored by placing a coffee cup or a car on the table.

Best maker projects

Ishaan Shrivastava is a guitarist and a programmer, thus working in the field of sound engineering. He is part colorblind, so he also works with VR & AR. Ajay Vishnu is a Full Stack Developer. He is a hacker by nature & has his wardrobe full of wearables. Harry Samson is not a ‘Potter’ but still a wizard in Electronics, Hardware and IoT. Mayank Jain is a research specialist in Computer Vision and Machine Learning. He likes to spend most of this time on how to make computers see. Alok Kumar is an Experience Technology Architect and is currently working on the mechanical side of things. Taran J Singh comes from a background of Electronics, Software Engineering, Fine Arts & Design. You can catch a video of their project over here:

 

A smart robotic arm that detects and retrieves objects

Best maker projects

We don’t usually think twice about grabbing a bottle of water from across the table or a book that lies a bit out of reach. But our ability to easily perform these tasks are taken for granted more often than not. For some, these are tasks for which they have to rely on others. One such real life scenario when his dad was ill for a lengthy period of time with a degenerative problem is when Pranav B Sridhar got motivated to build a robotic arm that can be programmed to recognise and fetch a range of household objects on command. During that period, his father found such tasks to be very challenging, and that urged Pranav to push the maker in him to alleviate his dad’s situation. He showcased this proof of concept version that shows the feasibility of such a household robot. The robot at demo could identify a specific object and retrieve it from a set of objects placed on the table. He has made this using minimum resources and recycled electronic parts. You can check out his project here:

Pranav is a Computer Science Engineer who has been working mostly on robotics projects with his father Mr B Sreedhar for the past 10 years. A few of their projects include a “Cartesian Robot that writes”,”SCARA Robotic Arm that draws”, “Ready to use Stereoscopic Vision using web-cams” and “DIY 5.1 Audio System”. Their theme has always been to use junk/available components(working or not) to build cost-effective alternatives of comparable available systems. Projecting the possibilities of hardware hacks as an aide to human life, it really stands to reason why this robot picked it’s place in the best maker projects list.

Super kids from IdeaLab and their cool Maker projects

Best maker projects

Remember how we said that age isn’t a barrier for true passion? These kids truly deserve the adjective “super” for the Maker projects they showcased. They are from the IdeaLab, a student innovation nurturing venture of the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum, Bangalore. And they truly were an example of how young minds are masters of imagination. And for showcasing their talent, we decided to feature the innovations done by these awesome little Makers collectively as the fifth best Maker project.

DeskPet: Many times, the things we take for granted can be difficult tasks for the differently abled. Mr. Varun and Ms. Vrinda (Std. 8, Vidya Vardhaka school) have built a robot called DeskPet that fetches different items from a desk.  It can operate in two modes: using a remote control, or in autonomous mode.

Back Belt Yoga: Proper spinal posture has been recognized as such an important factor of good health that October 16th has been designated as World Spine Day. Proper spine posture has been an integral part of Yoga postures from time immemorial. Mr. Ananth (Std. 7, National Public School) is using a smartphone to design a wearable device that will alert the wearer, whenever the spine position is poor.

Wind Powered Mobile Charger: Shortage of electricity is an awful thing in today’s world. And the most frustrating thing about it is our mobile phones running out of charge. Such an experience led Mr. Harsh Kumar (Std. 9, Delhi Public School South) to think of this alternative.

Safe Bio Pesticides: Ms.Spoorthi (Std. 8, Vidya Vardhaka School) and Ms.Vaisakhi (Std. 8, Poorna Prajna School) experimented on the pesticidal properties of Turmeric and Eucalyptus extracts and have found a safer and health hazard free alternative to conventional pesticides. They are also investigating on how the natural properties of plants can be used to make an assorted range of bio pesticides.

Carbon Nest: With the global pressure on society to reduce its addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, every possible mechanism to offset the CO2 deserves investigation. Ms. Akshara (I PUC, Vivekananda college) has conducted experiments with her project, the Chlorophyll Carbon Nest to quantify the amount of carbon dioxide it can reduce from the emissions of chimneys, trash incinerators, open burning, etc.

We hope to see more young innovators coming up with cool Maker projects, inspired from their work. :)

Some of the other cool Maker projects that we saw at the Faire:

Best maker projects

Starting from top left, the following are the other cool Maker projects:

  1. Burglar Detector and Photo Transmitter – Sarah Elizabeth Paul (Std 5)
  2. Coffee art – Dheeraj Valkya
  3. Kinetic Art Exploration – Gaurav Patekar
  4. LED Cube and cool Time telling gadgets – Anool Mahidharia
  5. Pinocular (DIY Pinhole Camera) – Raveesh Reddy
  6. Portable Aquaponics – Azlan Mohammed Shakib

Now that was our list of 5 Best Maker Projects!! We are sure to see many more such projects rising from all over the country and helping shape a better tomorrow :)

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