Spurred by India’s persistent problem of air pollution, a team of students have developed artificial intelligence-powered anti-pollution face mask and a portable nebulizer. The products would help people with breathing ailments like asthma and other chronic respiratory diseases.
The innovation was developed by a team comprising Aakash Bhadana, Ishlok Vashishta, Vasu Kaushik, Dipesh Narwat, and Bharat Sundal. Now, they are all geared up to compete at the 2019 Imagine Cup World Championship next week hosted by Microsoft in Seattle, US. The annual competition conducted by Microsoft brings together students worldwide to help resolve some of the world's toughest challenges.
Nine out of 10 in the world breathe polluted air, causing as many as seven million deaths every year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution contributed to over 1.2 million deaths in India in 2017, according to a global study titled State of Global Air 2019.
Statistics like these and an experience living in the vicinity of New Delhi, which has one of the world’s worst air qualities, prompted the five students from Manav Rachna Institute of Research & Studies in Faridabad to use technology to tackle the problem.
The smart mask called 'Caeli' and nebulizer are connected to a smartphone application through Bluetooth. Caeli mask features an air filtration system and an Air Quality Index (AQI) sensor that constantly monitors the quality of air outside. Caeli app controls the schedule of the drug dispensed from the nebulizer depending on the user’s prescription and pollution levels. When required, the user can switch on the 'intelligent mode' and get the instant relief drug automatically.
“Caeli works on multi-disciplinary technologies and makes effective use of hardware capabilities and software intelligence,” said Bharat Sundal, one of the students. “The device usage and sensor data is processed on the (Microsoft’s cloud computing) Azure platform,” he said.
With Caeli app users can also check the air quality around their neighborhood or workplace and stay informed about their environment’s health.
Another feature in the app is to enable users with navigation support to help pick the least polluted route.
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Inspired by other students who’ve been to Imagine Cup, it took the Indian team three attempts to finally reach the global event. In February, Team Caeli won the Asia leg of Imagine Cup and took home $15,000. They will now represent Asia at the world championship in Seattle on May 6 where they will compete against the winners from EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) and the Americas. They have a chance to win $100,000, along with $50,000 worth of Azure credits, mentorship from the team at M12 (formerly Microsoft Ventures) and a mentoring session with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
Since winning the Asia leg, the main focus of the team has been on improving the user experience and enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the mask. The team has tweaked its product design, to achieve over 50 per cent reduction in size. The latest prototype is as small as an earphone case.
For the finals, the team is preparing to showcase multiple mask customisation options, ranging from cartoon characters to celebrities, to encourage more people to wear anti-pollution masks, especially kids. Users can now talk to virtual assistants from within the mask itself, without having to remove it. The team is also looking at partnering with hospitals and pharmacies, to gain access to a customer base easily.