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Students from IITB & Pearl Academy showcased their DIY Product at Dubai Design Week

These graduates are designing a better world

At Dubai’s Global Grad Show which features the cream of young design talent from across the world, you sort of expect the driverless pram (hold on moms, it hasn’t hit the market yet) and the cute but gimmicky mirror that will turn on only when you smile. What you don’t expect is a low-tech contraption like a shovel that will let thousands of Indian women scoop up cow dung without getting their hands dirty.

Anmol Gupta, a student of Delhi’s Pearl Academy, says she got the idea while living in a village in Rajasthan. “It’s always the woman’s job to pick up dung and doing it by hand is not just yucky, it exposes them to bacteria,” says Gupta, who modeled her Gomi shovel on a dustpan and broom. It’s an open source project and she hopes that fabricators will soon manufacture the low-cost device.

It’s one of those why-didn’t-anyone-do-that before ideas and while it may not change the world, this Indian innovation grabbed the attention of both visitors to Dubai Design Week and the global press. “There is an assumption, especially in Silicon Valley, that problems get solved only by new technology. It’s very good that young designers are not buying that and not feeling obliged to make an app or use artificial intelligence,” says Brendan McGetrick who curated the event that has become the largest and most diverse student gathering for design globally. This edition showed 200 projects from 92 design schools in 40 countries.

Three designs from IIT Bombay’s Industrial Design Centre made it to the grad show tent which has become one of the highlights of the annual Dubai Design Week. Nishith Parikh focused his energy on a portable solar lamp that kids can use to study and adults can use to cook, light up the bathroom, or carry like a torch when they go out. “In a bathroom or in front of a stove I realised that people need a light with a stand. Everyone has disposable PET bottles lying around and these double up as a stand for my lamp,” says Nishith who tested the prototype in a village in Maharashtra where there are frequent power cuts. Assembly is also DIY so that villagers don’t need to rely on external help.

After extensive interviews with CRPF jawans, Devanshi Saksena set out to fix the problem they have getting clean water on the move. Her bottle, which she’s named Jiva (alive), islightweight and comes attachedwith a removable filter. Arun Shah fashioned a portable dental chair that can be used in dental camps where patients are usually just made to plonk on plastic chairs with no way of leaning back. McGetrick says he was intrigued by the local response to a local issue. “A lot of the projects in the show try to use design as a kind of relatively simple, small intervention in someone’s life that could open up more possibilities than they had before,” he says.

Agam Arora, who specialized in Toy and Game Design at NID, Ahmedabad, used one of his favourite childhood games, hopscotch, to reimagine passcodes. A recent study showed that passcode patterns were as predictable as passwords, making them vulnerable to attacks. Enter a play-based passcode that will be both fun and secure. Arora is already on the next step by making his passcode more senior-friendly. “For instance, a 60-yearold woman could have a password based on her personalised biryani recipe, he explains. And good luck trying to hack that!

Originally published in TOI.

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