From creating a road all by himself to developing a one-of-its-kind cashew nut grading machine, Anup Vijapur has been working on amazing innovations. Know more about how this boy-next-door became a rural innovator.
“People think I am still a student, but I guess it is the impact that matters,” says Anup Vijapur. He looks like a regular college going kid with ambitions which every student of his age would have; a secured job. But what makes him different than the rest of the lot is his passion towards social good. He hides immense creativity under his smiling face and has a purpose for every step he takes.
Empathy towards the marginalized was something Vijapur always felt and today he is an innovator who is working on some amazing projects that can simplify the lives of many farmers.
In a few months, he will have four patented technologies under his name.
A mechanical engineer by profession, Vijapur found his passion in computer and technology. “Though it was difficult to understand it as I am from a mechanical engineering background, but my curiosity kept me going,” he says.
The beginning of a positive path
It was during his engineering course that Vijapur’s efforts came into limelight when he constructed a road in a nearby village. In 2009, while returning from Hospet to Hubli, he noticed a stretch of road in a very bad condition. “It was totally smudged, covered with mud and in such bad condition that there were a lot of mosquitoes due to the stagnant dirty water,” Vijapur says.
When he asked the locals about it, he got a single reply: “Municipality isn’t doing anything. We have filed a complaint so many times.” He thought to take the issue to the government’s notice. Failing to receive any positive response from the municipality he finally resorted to taking matters into his own hands.
He went back to his college, gathered a few friends, raised Rs.1,000 grant from Deshpande Foundation where he was part of their LEAD programme, and took another Rs.1,000 funds from another funder, to repair the road.
In two days time, he managed to clear the blocked road and covered it with red soil to make it walk-able.
“But this wasn’t it. I clicked the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of the road and showed them to the municipality officer. I don’t know what affected them, but the next week when I was crossing that area, I saw them constructing a new tar road there. It was a great feeling,” he says.
Always a curious kid, Vijapur would spend his spare time in experimenting and innovating. His college was about to get over and he had received a lot of job offers already. But just before his final exams, he got affected by Hepatitis A and was bed ridden for days.
“I gave my exams with a glucose bottle in one hand,” Vijapur remembers. Though he worked hard, he could not clear one subject and had to give away all the job offers that he had received. That is when he applied for Nanopix, a Hubli-based startup, and cleared the interview. “Luckily I filed revaluation papers and cleared the exam,” he says.
His college project, which was focused on generating power from wind in a moving train, won him many awards. The idea stuck his mind during a train journey.
“I thought that if all the wind energy which is generated by moving trains can be put to use to create power, it would be great. I created one meter wide and two feet long wind turbines and even made the working prototype which functioned perfectly. I just could not get the permission to actually put it to use on trains due to a lot of legal formalities,” he says.
Cashew Nut grading machine
While working with nanopix, he got an opportunity to work on a cashew nut grading machine. “It was a very basic model and was not even properly functional at the time. I got a chance to take a look at it and do further developments in the technology,” he says.
After some months of research, he came up with a first-of-its kind technology that grades cashew nuts in seven different categories. “Other existing machines in the market can just grade in two or three categories. This is probably the first of its kind in the world,” he says.
He has also created a pick and place mechanism where a machine can pick and place irregular objects from the lot. “Again, there are technologies to pick the regular objects, but there hasn’t been any invention that can identify irregular objects in particular,” he says. The cashew nut grading machine can grade 50 cashew nuts per second.
His innovation has simplified the cashew nut sorting system. Earlier 30-35 kgs nuts per hour could be sorted manually, but with the use of this technology, around 70-75 kgs nuts can be graded per hour according to their size, colour, defects, etc.
He, along with Nanopix, have sold over 60 machines so far. Each machine costs around Rs. 13.5 lakhs. “The costing might be high for individual buyers, but it would be affordable for industrial buyers keeping in mind the large cashew nut market,” he says.
A device that checks the drowsiness level of a public vehicle driver
“India hosts a large number of road accidents, and many of them are caused due to the drowsiness of the driver,” says Vijapur.
To address this issue, Vijapur, along with Sasishekhar, founder of Nanopix, started working on a technology that can check the drowsiness level of the driver by tracking his or her facial expressions. Once the expressions indicate that the driver is sleepy, the system will inform the back end and an immediate intervention can be done before it is too late.
“We are also working on a device that can track the viewers of any particular advertisement billboards. Both the technologies will probably be operational by next year,” he says.
From a regular college going kid to a social entrepreneur in the making and an innovator, Vijapur has come a long way. We wish him all the best for all his future projects.
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