Mathura, Uttar Pradesh: Aamir Khan’s character Rancho in 2009 Bollywood hit 3 Idiots wasn’t inspired by this young man, but their stories are remarkably similar. Amit Chaudhary, 24, a farmer’s son living in Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura district, isn’t highly educated, but he is a compulsive innovator who has devised multiple products from scrap and easily available technology.
Chaudhary’s family is not well-off, and he cannot afford anything but scrap. A student of a polytechnic, he consults his teachers, talks to mechanics and to those who understand the technology he’s working on. This way, one after the other, he keeps adding to the list of his innovations.
He claims that if a two-wheeler or four-wheeler fitted with his device gets stolen and is within a 500-metre radius, the remote control paired with the device can freeze the vehicle
One of them is a setup that allows him to take over or hack the airwaves of local FM channels. Equipped with a microphone, it enables one to relay his/her voice through the radio channels’ airwaves. This equipment can also record a radio programme. Besides, it can record voice and perform auto-tuning too. He demonstrated the capabilities of his device to this reporter.
Using Bluetooth technology and scrap, he has developed a mechanism that lets him switch on a motorcycle’s ignition, turn on the headlight or control the horn through a smartphone. Also, he claims that if a two-wheeler or four-wheeler fitted with his device gets stolen and is within a 500-metre radius, the remote control paired with the device can freeze the vehicle; it shuts down the car’s engine and applies brakes of the two-wheeler through a motor.
He has also developed smart home technology. He demonstrated this project to FactorDaily, switching lights on and off using a slick remote and merrily getting them to blink at varying intervals, much like decorative lights used for Diwali.
Apparently, the news of his exploits reached some anti-social elements who wanted him to make remote-controlled bombs for them. He told FactorDaily that because of the law & order situation in Uttar Pradesh, he has to keep some of his work under wraps to avoid the attention of troublemakers.
His father, Brahmjit Singh, gave a glimpse of his creative itch. “My son was never good at studies and was always attracted towards electronics, be it repairing the fans, greasing the motor or anything. He never sits idle and is always busy with his repairing kit.”
Amit’s childhood friend and neighbour Kailash Chaudhary shared how the former has always been a tech nerd. “Like we’d go out to play or fool around, but he’d say, ‘No, I’m working.’ Goes to heaps of trash, picks iron pieces, broken stuff from there and works till late at night. At least till 2-3 , in his house there’s a room where his stuff is, that’s where he keeps going at it,” said Kailash. “Ajeeb-ajeeb cheezein shuru se hi banaata rehta hai.” (Has been making strange things from the beginning.)
Addicted to innovation
Amit had started off with a mobile repairing shop in his village, Sadikpur. That made him realise he could do a lot more instead of just setting faulty handsets right. He quit repairing mobile phones and dived headfirst into the addiction of innovation. Consequently, he joined a diploma course in the mechanical branch at Baba Saheb Ambedkar Polytechnic in the nearby Bajna town. He makes some money once in a while by helping his batchmates with their projects or training them.
Apart from this sporadic earning, which funds his endeavours, the only source of income for his joint family are the six beeghas (around 2.4 acres) of farmland they own. He’s the second of five siblings, is married and is a father of two toddlers.
Amit aspires to be a scientist and use his gifts to serve the country. He said his wife and parents keep motivating him to
break new ground. “I am sure one day someone will understand my talent,” he said.
Fortifying his resume
Despite financial constraints and little recognition beyond his village and polytechnic, Amit keeps on tinkering with electronic items. His latest accomplishment is what he calls the ‘Multi-tasking Machine’. This Bluetooth-enabled equipment can enable one to eavesdrop on conversations taking place within a 200 metre radius through a small transmitter, similar to the concept spying agencies use for snooping. The young innovator says those who are hard of hearing can use it as a hearing aid.
Besides, this machine also accepts SIM cards for making and receiving calls. It can be used to recharge portable devices like mobile phone, tablet and laptop. Amit has assembled it for just Rs5,000, using integrated circuits, cable from a defunct mobile charger, a laptop battery, a cell phone battery, a speaker and other discarded material. For its external hard case, he picked up a room heater he found in a pile of garbage. Getting hold of all the material and acquiring the knowhow to execute this concept took him a year. However, he is proud that he could make such a versatile device at such a low price.
From a scrap-made drone prototype that can carry five-six kilograms of weight to night-vision goggles, Amit has a whole lot of products to his credit. Some are amusing, some are a case of reinventing the wheel. He rues that he can’t execute his vision as well as he wants owing to shortage of money. Nevertheless, like a driven scientist with an insatiable urge, he keeps doing what he does best: innovating.
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Updated at 4.50pm on July 10, 2017, to add Yogesh Bharadwaj's name as co-author of the story. Saurabh Sharma is a Lucknow-based freelance writer and Yogesh Bharadwaj is a Mathura-based freelance writer. Both are members of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters. The ‘Tech Meets Bharat’ series brings to you stories on how technology is impacting and changing lives in hinterland India.