Manorama English Online | Friday 24 July 2015 | by Ninny Mary Baby |
When most of his classmates vied with each other in assisting their professor with a disability, Libin Varghese was wracking his brains to find a way for the professor to carry him about without anyone’s assistance. The M. Tech student at the Rajagiri College of Engineering in Kochi finally fulfilled his plan and he has been lauded by experts, including those in the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. Varghese has developed an electric wheel chair that can be operated without assistance from the others. Though power wheel chairs are available in the market, they are prohibitively costly. Some even costs more than Rs 1 lakh. Even though they are motorised, users might need assistance in getting into and out of it. Also, there are chances of overturning.
The wheel chair Varghese developed would cost just Rs 30,000. The price can be brought down further if the product is commercially produced, he hopes. The invention runs on a controller the student has developed with little cost. Varghese’s wheel chair can support up to 190 kilos. It can be used continuously for 18 hours when fully charged. The user can regulate the speed. There is a lifting mechanism to adjust the height of the seat to allow the user to get on to a bed or another seat without external assistance. The moment the user lifts his finger off the wheel chair handle, it automatically locks the system, reducing the chances of overturning to just 1 per cent.
The wheel chair can also be used as a recliner as it can be pushed back 40 degrees. Varghese developed the electrical wheel chair with the assistance of Centre for Disability Studies in Thiruvananthapuram. Professor J.T. Kuncheria of the Electrical Department of Rajagiri College of Engineering guided him through the invention. The invention has won the national award for best M.Tech and B.Tech projects instituted by the Indian Society for Technical Education and L&T. Varghese also received the top prize in the International Graduate Thesis Contest by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. He will be presented the award in Texas in October. – Courtesy