As India navigates the complex waters of challenge and change during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are a number of hurdles to overcome. The unavailability of emergency transportation in remote areas and the physical discomfiture faced by healthcare professionals working tirelessly at the frontlines are two such notable challenges. Out-of-the-box approaches are needed to address these issues quickly and at scale, replicating the solution for different use cases to create value during the crisis. This would be instrumental in ushering in economic recovery, reopening of services, and a return to normalcy, a pursuit that must begin at the grassroots level.
A crucial concept in this context is 3DEXPERIENCE Lab frugal innovation: it makes it possible to empower individual citizens, India’s youth, and the industry’s brightest minds who could be hailing from remote parts of the country. Further, democratized access to technology and “resource-lite” product manufacturing life cycles would allow these individuals spread across India to realize their groundbreaking ideas and solve our most urgent issues during this crisis.
Leveraging frugal innovation to rapidly prototype bike ambulances for tackling COVID-19 in India’s villages
Now more than ever, the democratization of technology and resources via open communities has to be a top priority. It can galvanize the collective intelligence of engineers, designers, makers, manufacturers, and citizen innovators to fight COVID-19, and realize the newest, most ground-breaking ideas. This process has frugal innovation at its core, reducing product complexity and costs to facilitate solution delivery even in constricted environments. A noteworthy breakthrough that emerged via our frugal innovation community is a low-cost bike ambulance that is capable of last-mile delivery to address patient transportation challenges in villages and other remote areas.
Transportation issues have been a persistent problem throughout the pandemic especially in rural regions with a low density of healthcare centers. After ideation, we helped design a fully equipped sidecar for two-wheelers that could safely carry COVID-19 patients and ensure their timely treatment. The design, completed end-to-end in the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, is readily available, and the first POCs are underway with help of students from GATES Institute of Technology Gooty in Andhra Pradesh.
In addition to distribution among villages and rural communities, the design will be accessible in the open-source domain.
Innovators across India, and potentially the world, could build their own versions with customizations and new additions. Open-source availability of pragmatic ideas and purpose-built solutions is vital during a crisis, breaking down barriers and enabling solution delivery at Ground Zero. The fewer the barriers, the more widespread will be the impact of an idea, thereby powering our collective progress with fewer resources at accelerated timelines.
Equipping a 19-year-old student to build a ventilation system for PPE kits, providing relief to frontline workers
Another key tenet of frugal innovation is the ability to realize breakthrough ideas from every segment, government, the industry, or academia. To that end, encouraging and equipping India’s student innovators is a principle objective, which is what helped to bring some relief to the frontline employees working tirelessly during the pandemic.
A 19-year-old student Nihaal Singh Adarsh from Mumbai was inspired by his mother (a doctor) to look for a smarter alternative to traditional PPE kits, one that could address the issues of heat, humidity, and restricted airflow. The student came up with a design called ‘Cov-Tech’ – a compact ventilation system for PPE kits. It was developed at our state-of-the-art prototyping facility in Pune, supported by the Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE Lab India.
In just six months, the design was able to reach the prototype stage and is now available at an extremely affordable rate, a fraction of industry-standard systems, that will make it widely accessible. The ventilation system provides a breeze of fresh air to the user at an interval of 100 seconds and can last for 6-8 hours on a lithium-ion battery.
Feats like these are possible only when there is close collaboration between government agencies, education institutions, and the industry, converting promising ideas into reality without very long lead times. This allows communities to find a timely answer to their most pressing challenges, giving back to the open-source repository of collective intelligence for future use cases. For example, the compact ventilation system could also make a difference to firefighters and other types of first responders, outlasting the pandemic.
As we look forward to the post-COVID-19 period of economic growth and future-focused progress, some of the best ideas will be inspired by frugal innovation. As mentioned by the head of SoftBank India, a bullish economic climate lies ahead of us and sectors like infrastructure, manufacturing, healthcare, education, and insurance will be crucial for reaching the $5 trillion economy target. This growth must begin with grassroot level empowerment. Our frugal innovation community and open-source projects will continue to support such endeavors, aided by the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform and our industry-leading services and capabilities.