Thursday, June 01, 2017

Taking on a ‘drinking’ problem head-on in Rajasthan

Low-cost water filter developed by a group of students from IIT-Jodhpur for the rural populace

It took an apple falling on the head of Sir Issac Newton for that ‘aha moment’. All it took a group of students from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Jodhpur to come up with gravity as the answer to clean drinking water needs was a visit to Arna-Jharna, an open desert museum displaying traditional knowledge systems of local communities on the outskirts of the city in 2013.
The mechanical engineering students were inspired to work on a cheap but efficient water filter during an interaction with Kuldeep Kothari of Jodhpur-based Rupayan Sansthan, which functions as an institute of folklore and runs the museum. IIT-Jodhpur Assistant Professor Anand Plappally encouraged them to come up with a solution.

Amrita Kaurwar, Sandeep Gupta, Raj K. Satankar and Devaiah Soyam, and traditional potters worked together in 2013 to develop a ‘G-Filter’ that provides clean drinking water in poor village households at very low costs.
The first prototype was developed in December 2016 and displayed at the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan pavilion of the India International Science Festival in New Delhi in December 2016.

20-litre capacity
The 20-litre filter receptacle looks like a flowerpot and has micro-nano pores through which water percolates due to gravity.
An average of eight litres of water percolates in 10 hours when the receptacle is running at full capacity. During the manufacturing process, sawdust and marble powder are added to the clay to improve the filter’s anti-bacterial properties. It also provides structural strength to the receptacle, which is kept on a water dispensing container made of steel or plastic.

Sold by potters
The filters, being sold by potters in Jodhpur district at prices ranging between Rs. 300 and Rs. 350 each, have gained acceptance in rural areas of western Rajasthan.
The students said the reverse osmosis-based, energy-intensive and expensive equipment that has entered urban homes isn't suitable for rural families with limited financial resources. Cost-effective solutions like the filter developed by them, which is based on indigenous knowledge, could effectively meet the needs of villages.
The students designed a machine in their laboratory for manufacturing these filters and three machines have been installed in homes of potter families in Sar, Banad and Salawas villages.

Workshops for potters
The Sansthan also organised a series of workshops for potters to enable them manufacture filters with salt-added clay.
Mr. Kothari said the Sansthan was disseminating the technology to individual potters as part of its drive to preserve traditional skills of villagers and promote natural engineered products.

Abdul Razak, a potter at Banad village in Jodhpur, said: “I learnt a lot from the workshops organised by the Sansthan. Though we have indigenous knowledge of the filtration properties of sand, I learnt about the right mix of sawdust and marble powder for preparing the clay from the students. Each water filter weighs about 5-kg. It’s very useful and should be kept in every household.”
To clean impurities

Dr. Plappally told The Hindu that the filter’s capacity to clean impurities of bacteria, mostly E. Coli, metal contamination and chemical impurities has been certified by the Union government’s National Test House.
Besides protection against water-borne diseases, which according to the World Health Organization comprise 65% of ailments, the filter helps maintain robust health and nutritional status of the rural populace, said Dr. Plappally, a post-doctoral fellow with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) before joining IIT-Jodhpur in 2012.

“We have applied for patent of the process for manufacturing, rather than the filter itself, to facilitate its supply to areas not getting power and water supply,” he added.

IIT-Jodhpur has also provided the filter’s know-how to the Integrated Rural Technology Centre, Palakkad, and Enactus IIT-Madras, which is a group of IIT alumni in Chennai.

Source: THE HINDU-22nd May,2017

Google woos start-ups to heat up its cloud

Offers technology that combines a large amount of storage and computing to ventures that study Earth and simulate cities

Google is wooing some of the world’s hottest start-ups to sell its cloud computing technology.
These include ventures that send satellites into the space to study the changing earth, firms that convert traditional manufacturing plants into smart factories and start-ups that are simulating entire cities.
Google is offering cloud technology that combines a large amount of storage and computing. It then sells it to customers who may want to enhance or set up new data centres.

Planet Labs, Inc, a start-up which is on a mission to image the entire Earth every day, and make the global change visible said that it has switched to Google Cloud to host its imagery and do data processing.
“There are a handful of companies that can offer storage and processing, we are really impressed by Google Cloud’s core technology,” said Will Marshall, co-founder and chief executive of Planet Labs, at Google Cloud Next conference held recently in San Francisco.

Natural disasters

Founded in 2010 by a team of ex-NASA scientists, Planet Labs operates the largest constellation of Earth-imaging satellites. These satellites are collecting a new data set with real-world applications such as tracking natural resources, quantifying agricultural yields and assisting first responders after natural disasters.
To image the whole of Earth every day means preparing for 7 to 10 terabytes of data daily. Google Cloud now hosts this growing photography repository and the data processing for Planet Labs.
“We have the capacity to image every point on the earth every single day and the sea changes that happens. We see every port, every city, every farm and every forest,” said Mr. Marshall.
In February, with the help from Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO), the California-based firm successfully launched 88 Dove satellites to orbit.
This is the largest satellite constellation ever to reach orbit. These satellites rode aboard ISRO’s workhorse — the polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV rocket) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
Planet Labs has now introduced a tool called ‘Planet Explorer Beta’ that aims to provide data to individuals, small and medium-sized businesses, developers and researchers around the globe.

Simulating cities

Google also provides its cloud platform to Improbable, a London-based start-up co-founded by Indian-origin entrepreneur Herman Narula.
It is dedicated to building technology to enable powerful virtual worlds and simulations designed to help solve previously stubborn problems. In gaming and entertainment, this enables the creation of richer and more immersive virtual worlds. For instance, top studios are building their products on Improbable’s distributed operating system, SpatialOS. These include top video games like Worlds Adrift, Rebel Horizons and Chronicles of Elyria.
Improbable has now taken a huge leap of simulating entire cities that could impact everything ranging from city planning to healthcare.
At the Google Cloud conference, Mr. Narula said that Improbable has built a complete simulation of an entire British City, in conjunction with a public sector partner. This includes its telco and transport network, power grid, sewage systems, housing demographics and even the way in which people move around and interact with the city.
“This is the largest simulation of its kind, ever created,” said Mr. Narula, chief executive at Improbable. The company intends to foster a community where developers can share code, framework and build and create new services and businesses.
Mr.Narula said the age of closed systems and trying, in effect, developers into committing to a closed ecosystem were over. “We can’t succeed unless you succeed and I think Google recognises that,” he said.

Smart factories

Manufacturing is one of the most important sectors of the U.S. economy. The gross output of U.S. manufacturing industries was $6.2 trillion in 2015, about 36% of U.S. gross domestic product. But these industries have less access to the new technological advancements in the information technology sector, according to Oden Technologies, a leading industrial Internet of Things venture.
The New York-based firm is betting big on changing this and it runs its entire platform on the Google cloud platform. Using a combination of IoT — a technology where devices communicate with each other intelligently, wireless connectivity, and big data, Oden is helping manufacturers enhance production efficiency.
“We probably wouldn’t be comfortable scaling up to thousands and thousands of factories, ten and thousands of machines, all streaming data, if we didn’t know we had the infrastructure of Google to allow us to do that,” said Willem Sundblad, founder and chief executive of Oden Technologies.
For example, Google’s cloud platform provides the base for obtaining and storing data collated by Oden’s wireless devices. It captures and stores about 10 million metrics on each manufacturing line per day. This includes highly granular details, such as melt profile of the materials and measure of power moving to the machines.
The environmental insights like temperature and humidity are also obtained. This way manufacturers can find if there are weather-related impacts on their manufacturing efficiency.

In March, Mountain View, California-based Google also acquired Kaggle, a community platform for data scientists. The Kaggle community has used machine learning to grade high school essays, diagnose heart failure and increase the discovery significance of the Higgs-Boson, an elementary particle in the Standard Model of particle physics.

Making Google Cloud technology available to its community will allow it to offer access to powerful infrastructure and the capability to store and query large data sets. “We are going to enable our community to do far more powerful things,” said Anthony Goldbloom, chief executive of Kaggle.

Source: THE HINDU-22nd May,2017