In Kochi, five engineering students have invented a fan regulator that changes its speed or switches off on its own, to maintain the temperature and ensure you have uninterrupted sleep.
Kevin Jacob, Akash Raju, Saffin Nazeer, Lakshmi Sreekumar, and Vandana Menon, fourth year students at the Government Model Engineering College, Kochi, came up with this invention as part of their final semester project.
“I used to wake up at 5 am because I felt cold and the fan speed was too high,” says Kevin Jacob, the project lead. “It got me thinking. This was a challenge that I was sure everyone faced.”
He went out and conducted a survey of people in his neighbourhood and college. He found that about 25% under the age of 25 would wake up in the middle of the night to reduce or switch off the fan. The number went up to 30% for the age group of 25-50, and a drastic 50% for those above 50 years. “And what’s more, those who didn’t switch off the fan at night despite feeling cold would end up with a sore throat, a cold or muscle stiffness,” he adds.
That was when he and his friends saw an opportunity to make people’s lives easier.
“We did research on this, and had a lot of ideas. After a week-long brainstorming session, the five of us had finally formed a vague idea of what we wanted to do,” he says.
As every person has a different level of temperature that they’re comfortable with, manual fan regulators that are preset at five different speeds are often not effective. In the smart regulator developed by this team of engineering students, one can input the temperature to their liking.
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“We implemented this idea using pulse-width modulation. The current temperature is displayed on the regulator’s 2.5 cm-wide LCD screen,” Jacob explains, “If you are going to sleep at 10 pm and the temperature at that time is 29 degrees, but you are comfortable with 26, you just need to input that into the system. As the night progresses, the temperature will decrease. When it’s close to 26, the fan speed will decrease. Once it reaches 26 degrees, the fan will switch off automatically.”
The best part about their invention is how economical it is. “We have brought down the cost of production to Rs 250. Including a casing, the total will come to Rs 350 only,” Jacobs says. In the current market, digital regulators work with a remote control. And, they cost between Rs 800 and Rs 1200.
Jacob lists out the benefits: “No more mounting medical bills, complete uninterrupted sleep, you save electricity, and its economical. And it can be useful in any weather.”
The team had worked on this for about six months, braving electrical shocks, battling mind blocks. “I remember the days when we were stuck, and we used to work till 5 am on some days. I used to get shocks from working on the regulator sometimes,” he laughs. “We had help from a lot of people too. We were mentored by Assistant Prof Arun Prasad and Mrs. Bindu V, HOD at the college.”
Being an innovative product, Jacob says that they will soon be applying for a patent. Besides that, they have plans to launch the regulator into the market before the arrival of monsoon. He says, “We will be discussing with fan regulator manufacturers, and if they’re not interested, we will do it under our own startup.”