“I remember the night and the call like it happened seconds ago. Dinesh who had been riding pillion with another friend, called Vivek saying they had met with an accident,” begins Vivek.
Witnessing a death at any age leaves its impact. The imprint is deeper on a young and impressionable mind, and can be life-altering. For Chennai-based Vivek Justus, it was the death of a dear friend which propelled him to devise a way to save accident victims.
The 27-year-old clearly remembers the day when he lost his friend Dinesh in a road accident more than a decade ago.
“I remember the night and the call like it happened seconds ago. Dinesh who had been riding pillion with another friend, called me saying they had met with an accident,” begins Vivek.
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Vivek reached the spot in less than 15 minutes. Once he located his friends, he observed no signs that would be cause for worry. The friends drove to the nearest hospital as a precaution.
Vivek still shivers thinking about that car ride. “We sat in the car and soon Dinesh started having fits. We got him admitted as soon as we could and later the doctors declared him brain dead.”
Unable to come to terms with this huge loss, Vivek decided to dedicate his life to develop—‘Auto Rescue System’—a device which automatically gets triggered in an accident and sends the location of the car to the Emergency Services.
How he channelised the loss
To begin with Vivek put all his energy into clearing his diploma arrears in one go and secured an admission into Sathyabhama University in Chennai to pursue a degree in Computer Science. “I knew I had to do something meaningful and the first step was to get into a good college.”
Dinesh’s death had shaken the young man to such an extent that he feels he changed overnight. Vivek started spending long hours pouring over books and watching videos on Youtube, all in the quest of developing an auto-rescue system. “In the third year of engineering, I managed to develop a device that could send a signal to the emergency service alerting them about the accident,” informs Vivek. Colonel Dr. Jeppiaar, Chancellor Of Sathyabama University, his teachers and mentors – Dr.Lakshmi, Mr Sethuraman and Mr Manuel helped him fund the project.
108 Emergency service is the first port of call for anyone in a road accident in Chennai. Vivek felt that if he could tie up with them, the alert system would be most effective. While he developed a working system, Vivek he found getting in touch with the right person at 108 Emergency Service almost impossible. Nevertheless, he persisted.
“After many days of just waiting outside the office of the emergency services, a lady asked me why I was hanging around outside the office everyday. That was the chance I was waiting for. I took my idea to Mr Prabhudoss, who is the Marketing Head at 108 Emergency Service,” says Vivek.
Having handled many accidents, Prabhudoss at 108 identified a design flaw in the system that Vivek had spent a long time fine-tuning. “My device was to work on a mobile phone but if the accident caused the mobile to get damaged, then my entire process would fail. This took me back to the drawing board and once again I started to deliberate on the design.”
How he picked himself up
The second version was based on the black-box technology and which, according to Vivek, is foolproof. “Taking the advice I was given, I re-created the ‘Auto Rescue System’ which gets triggered automatically when an accident occurs. If the victim is not seriously injured, pressing the stop button can deactivate the device. But if there is no response from the victim, the device communicates with the satellite through GPS to triangulate the location and makes a call to 108 with the details. Once 108 has the necessary information, it can respond immediately. And the best part is that it will take under 3 minutes of the accident occurring.”
One of the salient features of this technology is that it does not require an internet connection to function, and it is based on cloud technology. This device also comes attached with speakers so that the rescue team can communicate effectively with the victim.
On 24 February 2016, six years after Dinesh’s tragic death, the device was officially launched.
Speaking about the cost, Vivek shares, “If we manage to bulk produce this device, it could be made available for as low as Rs 2,000. I am currently in talks with various car manufacturers who I feel will be its right customers.”
Having bagged various awards for his innovation, the latest being India’s 3M CII Young Innovators Award 2019, Vivek says, “Perhaps if we had a robust accident rescue team, my friend would have survived. I do not want anyone to go through what I did. I wish I didn’t have to become an innovator under the circumstances that I did. Now that I have, I will ensure that I honour Dinesh’s memory.”
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)