Three years ago, on 13 June 2018, a fire broke out in Mumbai’s BeauMonde Towers on the 32nd floor, due to a short circuit. What began as a small fire eventually took almost five hours and ten fire engines to douse. It also led to more than 90 residents having to be evacuated and rescued from the building. Amongst them were Shiv Kampani’s grandparents, who had to walk down 20 floors to reach safety.
While they managed to escape unhurt, this incident left a rather indelible mark on Shiv. Just as everyone in the apartment was coming to terms with the incident in June, on Diwali the same year, yet another fire broke out, this time right outside Shiv’s apartment on the 30th floor.
Seeing two such incidents within a span of a few months pushed 16-year-old Shiv to find a workable solution to this issue. A basic search online led him to understand that such fires were rather common in a densely populated city like Mumbai.
“During my research, I found that not only do these fires occur often, but they also do not start big,” Shiv says.
It is most often the fact that they remain unnoticed for a long time, and the subsequent delayed response, that causes all the damage, he adds.
“Nipping it in the bud and alerting the fire department at the earliest can help prevent many big fires,” he says. It was with this in mind that Shiv started working on a device that could alert people in case a fire broke out. After a few years of research, he came up with an Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled smart gas detector he calls Sensafe, which senses the levels of smoke, LPG and other flammable gases, and sets off an alarm in case of any discrepancy.
A student of Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Shiv has been working on this project with a great deal of passion. In this interview with The Better India, Shiv walks us through his innovation and speaks of some of the challenges he faced.
Workings of Sensafe
Speaking about the device, he says, “The device is currently patent pending and I’m designing a printed circuit board to help me do away with the wires.” The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic delayed the process of getting paperwork sorted. “Everything is ready from my side, and what remains is the green signal from the patent department,” he adds. Shiv is hopeful this will happen early this year.
“My research pointed to gas leaks and a delayed response to fire as two major problems, and I wanted my device to address both,” Shiv says. Sensafe is a palm-sized unit that can be fitted anywhere in the house. In case of a gas leak or fire, this device senses the level of smoke, and compares it to a set of pre-assigned values.
“In case there is a leak, this device automatically sends out an SMS or e-mail, and can even make an automated call to your mobile phone to inform you about the fire,” Shiv says. During his research, he also found that most often when the fire breaks out, people who reside in the house are not at home. Therefore, even if the smoke alarm goes off, there is no one to take immediate action.
Shiv worked on various iterations before he came upon his final version.
“The first prototype I made was rather basic, it could only send out an SMS and e-mail. I worked on this to ensure that the next prototype enabled making an automated call to alert the house owner or any other designated person,” says Shiv.
Little did he know that coming up with a product would be just one part of the solution. He is now working on marketing Sensafe and is in contact with several real estate companies in the city to get them to adopt his innovation. He says, “While things are moving well, the pandemic has put the brakes on everything. Either way, things are slowly looking up again, and I am certain that having Sensafe installed in apartments will help curtail fires and prevent any untoward incident.”
For Shiv, coming up with this product stems from a deeply personal reason. “Just living through the fire outbreak left me deeply shaken and I did not want to be in such a situation ever again. In doing this, I will be able to help myself and many others,” he says. The prototype, which awaits the patent, is currently installed in Shiv’s home, and also at a robotic centre, where he is a student himself.
If you would like more information about the product or would like to purchase one for your home, you can click here to access the official website or e-mail Shiv at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Edited by Divya Sethu)