This article is powered by NASSCOM Foundation.
It is common to observe that the crème de la crème of society enjoy the abundant fruits of technology. But thankfully there are still many innovators in India making technology accessible to the underprivileged – who otherwise, are the last to reap the benefits of any technological advances.
From granting thousands access to clean drinking water to saving hundreds of baby girls, from giving lower income groups access to financial services to empowering women and children, NASSCOM Social Innovation Forum (NSIF), instituted in 2008 by NASSCOM Foundation, has attracted over 2,000+ innovative projects from NGOs, corporates, social enterprises, government bodies, PSUs, students and individuals under its network.
Promoting and making such innovative projects accessible to the Base of the Pyramid (BoP) population, NASSCOM Social Innovation Forum (NSIF), a ‘Tech for Good’ platform, is bridging the gap and fostering inclusive growth.
Here are some of the exemplary NSIF-winning projects and innovations that you should not miss:
1. The award-winning novel device and system that screens newborn babies for hearing loss in poor resource settings.
Statistics reveal that of the 800,000 hearing impaired babies born each year globally, a striking 100,000 are Indian. In a nation with the problem of plenty and lack of resources, hearing impairment cases in newborns go undiagnosed due to expensive screening equipment and procedures.
Sohum Innovation Labs India Pvt Ltd aims to tackle this problem of no diagnosis with its development of a low-cost hardware-cum-software solution, which screens and diagnoses infants with hearing impairments at an early stage, using brainstem auditory evoked response.
The device has three parts to it. While the first is a base precision hardware to capture brain signals, the second is the algorithm software used to analyse the signals (which can run on various platforms) and the last part includes the reusable electrodes that fit any head size, used to capture brain signals.
The software gives clear indications of the right placement of electrodes. The final result is completely automated and clearly states a ‘pass’ or ‘refer’ at the end of the screening. The data is also fed into a backend centraliser server that rechecks and keeps track of infants that have been referred.
This device can not only function efficiently in noisy settings but also, doesn’t require the infant to be sedated during the screening process.
2. Bringing employment and employability opportunities in Tier 2 & Tier 3 city youth
While it’s a common phrase to hear most people say, ‘the job market is down, or there are no employment opportunities,’ there’s more than what meets the eye. Most of us forget to acknowledge the flip side of the issue, where several startups and small and medium enterprises struggle with hiring due to lack of visibility and HR resources; and a host of fresh graduates from universities in Tier 2- Tier 3 cities remain unemployed because bigger corporates hire alumnus of established institutes.
Rankskills Knowledge International Pvt Ltd has created the first online platform to bridge this gap by connecting job-seekers from Tier 2- Tier 3 educational institutes to Start-Ups /SMEs. Apart from showcasing available jobs in Startups and SMEs and allowing SMEs to view profiles of students, the portal also helps job seekers connect with mentors and skill providers to upskill themselves. The process of building a telephony service to help youth improve their communication skills and employability is still underway.
3. mGuru- Mobile Learning Apps for Literacy and Numeracy
The disparity that exists in the quality of primary education in the country is appalling. Studies reflect how the average learning outcomes for primary school students are dangerously low.
A 2014 ASER report reveals that over 48% of std. five students are reading at a Std. 2 level or less. In Math, 74% of Std. 5 Students cannot do simple division.
To tackle the drawback of this fundamentally flawed primary education system and innovate learning techniques, mGuru built mobile learning apps. These apps aim to enhance basic literacy and numeracy skills among students.
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MGuru’s English app uses interactive learning activities to teach grammar, helps students speak, listen and understand English. From topics on grammar to vocabulary and alphabet, this app is available in various Indian languages including Gujarati, Hindi and Marathi.
The mGuru Math app provides students innumerable practice problems and assessments. It also has a comprehensive repository of material according to every topic. Its intelligently designed algorithm allows the app to generate any problem in K-5 for almost every Indian curriculum.
The impact of the organisation reflects in the 1200 students, teachers and parents it has empowered till date across Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Pune, Delhi, Kolkata and Bengaluru. It now plans to expand to Tier 2 & 3 cities.
4. Blee: Wearable for the hearing-impaired
There are over 60 million hearing-impaired people in India. Shocking, right? While those belonging to sound financial backgrounds improve their quality of life, most of these hearing-impaired persons don’t get that basic chance, as they belong to lower income groups.
It is unimaginable to think of how difficult daily life gets for these hearing-impaired individuals. From the sound of doorbells to a baby crying, to something as important as the fire alarms going off – think about the threat the loss of sound or absence of any notification, can potentially cause. And are the existing skyrocketing assistive devices or hearing aids the answer to the problem of the masses,? No, because they simply cannot afford it.
To tackle this critical gap in the market, BleeTech Innovations Pvt Ltd developed the Blee Wearable, a wearable and easy-to-use affordable device that notifies hearing impaired individuals of specific activities and sounds; they ought to be vigilant about.
It does this by notifying the user through pre-recorded sound alerts using lights and vibrations. Every sound alert has a unique set of vibrations. The device is connected to the user’s phone via Bluetooth where all the sounds are pre-recorded and stored. The capacity of the device increases as the collection of pre-recorded sounds grow. The device can also be used independently as a smartphone application.
Aiming to impact over 1 million hearing-impaired lives in the next five years, the device in its current prototype stage has been tested by hearing impaired people across Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune and Patiala.
5. Easing the farmer’s woes through technology.
For the longest time, the farmer has been a victim of oppression, sometimes at the hand of landlords, sometimes the middlemen and at most times, nature. While the natural elements that play a role in the mix cannot be tackled, there are several multi-dimensional challenges in the farmer-seller value chain that need immediate attention and change.
Conceptualized and developed by ConceptWaves, Livelihoods 360 is a comprehensive produce management technology solution designed to be universally accessible using a basic J2ME mobile (costing $20 or approximately Rs 1300).
It puts to use the best cloud and mobile computing capabilities to help farmers and revolutionize the crop estimation, collection and processing value chain, helping better returns for farmers and improved product quality.
With support from NAANDI foundation and SAMTFMACS, this solution has been impacting over 12,000 farmers across 658 villages in the Araku Valley region. It is helping crop collectors in coffee and pepper farms of Araku to capture the yield estimates, actual crop collection and is also helping farmer payments to be made on the field itself, using a mobile and pushed to a central server.
The impact reflects in how collection-payout cycles have reduced drastically from a month to 24 hours for 875 tonnes of produce. An 80% improvement in accurate forecasting is leading to better planning. The organic certification process that took over a week has been cut down to a few clicks.
These are just a few of the brilliant innovations that have been a part of the NASSCOM Social Innovation Forum. This year, NASSCOM Foundation, supported by American Express & Mphasis, is inviting applications in the areas of Education, Accessibility, Healthcare, Environment & Financial Inclusion. Select organisations will receive a grant of INR 10 lakhs, a specially designed mentoring program and access to NASSCOM Foundation’s ecosystem of tech for good experts. NSIF seeks to build capacities of social innovators to further accelerate social impact, and build awareness of the use of technology to drive revolutionary change across India.