Biju Narayanan, a self-taught electronics technician, built a smart solar mixie that has a battery backup of up to eight hours, with more than 15 unique features.
A self-taught electronic technician from Thodupuzha, Kerala, Biju Narayanan has always been curious about the functioning of different electronic devices. As he was growing up, his love for electronics began when he started listening to the radio.
“In my childhood, radio wasn’t very common in my village. Though there were a few who owned one, my family couldn’t afford it at that time. So, I wanted to build a radio on my own,” Biju tells The Better India.
At the age of 12, he built a working radio all by himself. “It was indeed my curiosity that made me explore and learn electronics on my own. I didn’t have a mentor; what I learned was purely through reading books and my experiments,” he says.
The success of building a radio opened a new path for him. He continued his experiments with electronics and turned this into his profession. A few years down the lane, he started innovating new electronic devices with his practical knowledge.
“I wanted to find solutions to the issues we face on a daily basis,” says the 52-year-old, who says he has innovated over 20 devices so far. Among his innovations in the last two decades, the ‘Smart Solar DC Mixie with Grinder’ stands out for many reasons.
Biju explains that the mixie can be operated either by solar power or electricity, and has a battery backup of up to eight hours. Unlike normal mixies, it has the ability to perform a variety of tasks and has around 15 unique features.
“This mixie can be used not only for grinding but also for grating coconut and chopping vegetables in different shapes and sizes,” says Biju. It can also be used to charge mobile phones, connect WiFi modems, and function as a vacuum cleaner.
He won the Rural Innovation Award for this innovation in 2021 from the Kerala State Government.
Nurturing a passion for innovation
It wasn’t an easy childhood for Biju, whose father was a blacksmith and faced financial struggles. Biju says that he enjoyed listening to music and this was also one of the reasons that pushed him to build a radio on his own.
“When I was in class four, I found a book that taught the basics of building a radio. Over the years, I started exploring more and began operating on faulty radios. Eventually, I gained a thorough understanding of its functioning and was ready to build my own. The first programme I heard through my radio was Vividh Bharati,” he recalls.
As time passed, radio was replaced by television but Biju kept his curiosity alive. He says that by the time he was in pre-degree, he started repairing television sets as well. After finishing his pre-degree, Biju began working as an electronics technician full-time. Within a few years, he set up his own repair shop and also a cassette shop.
“Even though I discontinued my studies after my pre-degree, I continued my self-study of electronics. I mostly learned through books and hands-on experience,” he adds.
Around the late 1990s, when Biju was running his electronics repair shop, he started building several useful gadgets. “I innovated a cordless television booster through which one can connect to the TV safely, thereby reducing the risk of getting an electric shock while plugging in the cables,” says Biju.
The all-rounder smart solar mixie
After running his repair and cassette shop for over 10 years, Biju decided to continue his work from home.
“It was around this time when a VCR was replaced by a CD player. I had to close my repair shop due to some financial issues. So, I turned more into research and innovation,” says Biju.
While spending more time at home, he realised the need to innovate something to ease his wife’s daily kitchen work. So in 2010, Biju came up with the first model of his smart solar mixie.
“Mixie is an essential kitchen device, but useless when there’s no power. Back then, we used to face frequent power cuts, especially during monsoons. And my wife would struggle to manage the kitchen work without a functioning mixie. This gave me the idea of innovating one which can work even without electricity,” he explains, adding that he first built a basic model with just the grinding feature.
Biju says that the motor of the mixie is the strength of the innovation. It took him over a decade to innovate and modify the mixie by adding more features.
The smart solar mixie can be charged using a 20W solar panel or through a direct power connection. “Once fully charged the mixie can operate with a backup of up to eight hours. As it is not connected to power, it can be used even during thunderstorms or when there’s no power,” he elaborates.
The mixie also features a mobile charging port and an emergency lamp, and it can be connected to a WiFi modem. It also has an inbuilt radio and USB ports for attaching pen drives.
“As the device works on a DC motor, there is not much noise. As a safety feature, I have added a sensor for detecting smoke or LPG leakage in the kitchen. The mixie whistles when it detects the smoke. Besides, we can attach a fan to it, and it can be converted into a blower or a vacuum cleaner. The recent add-on to its features is the remote control,” explains Biju.
His family has been using the mixie for the past several years.
Biju says he has won several awards and recognition for his innovations over the years.
He innovated Power ID, a device to detect battery charging in vehicles while driving, which won the Kerala Startup Mission award. He also innovated a black box similar to the one in aeroplanes to record audio and visuals while driving. A driving care system, which sends out an alert when the driver dozes off while driving or drives carelessly, and an easy coconut-breaking machine are some of his other unique innovations.
Biju hasn’t been able to apply for patents for his innovations because of the application expenses.
“I would love to make and sell the mixie on a commercial basis but unfortunately I can’t afford it right now,” says Biju, adding, “People across the country can benefit from my smart solar mixie. Moreover, I plan to sell it at a reasonable rate of Rs 4,500 – Rs 5,000.”
For more information and enquiries, you can contact Biju Narayanan at email@example.com
Edited by Pranita Bhat; Photo credits: Biju Narayanan