May 16, 2016

Bengaluru to have an innovation lab for disabled soon

BYRamarko Sengupta

Bengaluru, the IT capital of the country, will soon have an innovation lab for the disabled. The initiative, which will work towards solutions and products in the form of smart wheelchairs, crutches and prosthetics, is headed by Mohan Sundaram, board member, Association for People with Disability (APD) and is partnered by IoTBLR (Internet of Things Bangalore), and Workbench Projects.
The centre will not only address physical disability but will also look at providing solutions to the deaf, mute, blind, speech and hearing impaired.
“There is a serious lack of innovation for the disabled and a lab like this is much needed to make their lives better,” Sundaram, who is himself wheelchair-bound due to a condition called muscular dystrophy that progressively weakens and wastes muscles, said.
There are around 21 million people or 2.1% of the population with some form of disability in India, according to a 2001 government census. And the number of disabled is more in rural areas than urban centres, according to the census.
A Nobel Prize- winning international aid organisation has agreed to support the cause and lend their name to the project. Sundaram did not want the organisation named as talks are still underway to chalk out finer details.
The humanitarian organisation is likely be the seed-funder and pioneering partner, Sundaram said.
IoTBLR, an open community for people interested in the internet of things, conducts workshops and meetups, while Workbench Projects is a Bengaluru-based maker space that helps people execute their hardware ideas by providing infrastructure and mentorship. These two organisations will mainly champion the tech part of things, Sundaram said.
The Bengaluru-based centre will not just restrict its area of work to India but reach out to the ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations), Africa and Latin America.

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Ramarko Sengupta is a writer of FactorDaily.