Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Inventions, Big and Small

Just for a little variety, I thought I'd mention a couple of innovations I came across which caught my eye.

Next month, Aeros will be announcing their intention to build their first Aeroscraft, a new type of hybrid air vehicle capable of hauling large payloads across the sky. Others are working on similar concepts. I think this kind of new heavy transport, with its flexible takeoff and landing capabilities, would be especially useful for infastructure-poor India, and particularly for disaster relief.

Meanwhile, at the smaller end, someone has invented a toothbrush which makes it easier to rinse your mouth, by deflecting the tap stream upwards. I just thought it was a clever modification to a humble common product.


san said...

I thought I'd add a mention of another Aeros competitor, SkyCat:

They may actually be ahead of Aeros, because they've already tested a prototype, and are due to complete construction of their first SkyCat-20 model by late 2008, to put it on world tour. Check out their proposed full family of vehicles on their site:

Harish said...

Good post @San..I liked the stuff on airplanes more than toothbrush for obvious reasons :-) Seems like the WW II blimps!! (scary ah!)

I wish we had more of India's smart young engineers and technologists working on such interesting problems rather than the tried, tested and (boring :-) ) computer sciences /IT..Of course we need government support for such things to happen in India's universities and schools and we all know what kind of governments India generally gets..

Remember Kalam's project of building the hovercraft at NAL, which was quite radical considering India's then aerospace research standards..

Getting the new generation of Indians excited about such research is so important for our nation, but what we get is meaningless and endless strife on reservations.


san said...

I think that these types of technologies shouldn't merely be seen as "older" or "retro", but rather as being more mature. The newer innovation in materials (high strength polymers, lightweight aerogels, flexible solar panels, advanced control systems, etc) are now opening up new operational capabilities for these previously abandoned systems.

I'd recommend perusing that SkyCat site, to see their fuller thinking on what market gaps could be filled. I liked their idea for disaster relief, the idea for roadless bulk transport, minimal ecological disruption.

I also particularly liked their idea for timely food distribution to avoid spoilage. India suffers tremendous wastage of harvested crops because of spoilage, due to lack of cool storage facilities like in the developed world. Many experts have advocated that India try to address this, but the fact is that our energy challenges in energy production and distribution make that a very difficult area to tackle, especially in a way that will bring meaningful benefits to the masses who are all spread out in remote villages. But this rapid point-to-point roadless bulk transport idea could offer a novel way out. We might even be able to expand our agricultural trade with Africa and SouthEast Asia, with a more rapid means of bulk transport across the Indian Ocean.

So there are quite a lot of dazzling new possibilities opening up. India might even be an economical place to manufacture such inevitably large-scale skyships, with its cheap manpower. By pursuing the right disruptive technologies, we could gain penetration to the aviation marketspace which has traditionally been dominated by more advanced established players. We're currently known for ship-demolition, but we could become known for ship-building.

Harish said...

Yes, I totally am a believer of the argument that India needs to work on disruptive technolgies to leapfrog over other nations...

If you look at it, we are actually good at disrupting the conventional ways of how things work!!!

When every other nation on the planet went about industrialising and coming up with export driven economies (and crashing later).. we went the other way round.. went about in the higher paying services economy where we are pretty good..Suddenly people are looking at as a 'superpower'!!!

Even in things like the reusable space launcher like Avatar(which u r previous post noted).. we are actually above the curve..instead of doing the same thing as sending man to moon and planting a flag (like US or Chinese) we are trying to dramatically alter the economics of space flight using really disruptive bleeding edge technology..

I only hope we can tap into the limitless wealth of smart Indians to advance such reseach in India' school's and colleges..