It was a moment they will not forget anytime soon. As soon as their names were announced as the winners of the 2019 Imagine Cup Asia Finals, Aakash Bhadana, Vasu Kaushik, and Bharat Sundal, third-year students from Manav Rachna Institute of Research and Studies, Faridabad hugged each another and proudly held up the Indian tricolor along with their trophies.
Their solution–Caeli–is a smart, automated anti-pollution and drug delivery mask aimed at people with Asthma and other breathing ailments. “It’s a tremendous feeling. I can’t express it in words right now,” said a jubilant Sundal. “We were confident before the competition started, but this is a tremendous feeling.”
The winning solution
Hailing from Delhi, Bhadana’s daily routine included a long commute to college, exposed to vehicle emissions and pollutants. This often made him wonder how people suffering from Asthma survived in these conditions. Concerned about the situation, Bhadana came together with Kaushik and Sundal to develop Caeli to alleviate the suffering of asthmatic and chronic respiratory patients.
As they began their research, they discovered that it’s not just India but other Asian countries like China, Nepal are also witnessing rising cases of respiratory problems like Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Bronchitis, where people find it difficult to carry out even basic day-to-day activities. The World Health Organization rates poor air quality as the leading environmental health problem facing humanity today with about seven million premature deaths every year, out of which 0.6 million are children under the age of 15.
“We had begun this as a research project on air pollution but then we decided to develop it into a product to help all those patients who are suffering from respiratory issues and need it the most. We have been working on the project for the past one year now,” revealed Bhadana.
How Caeli works
Unlike bulky nebulizers that cannot be carried around, Caeli is a sleek, portable, easy-to-fit-inside-your-pocket nebulizer that comes with a mask that offers a snug fit.
“Our team developed everything from the scratch – the hardware design, the software applications, 3D designs and 3D print cases casings, keeping in mind the best means to give patients maximum portability,” reminisces Kaushik.
Once you download the app on your phone, using Bluetooth you can pair the nebulizer with it. Drug doses can be scheduled through the app. In case of breathing difficulties, the app allows you to switch on the intelligent mode that provides instant relief drugs based on set parameters. The app can also monitor the air quality around you in real-time and help you choose the least polluted route to travel from one place to another.
“Caeli works on multi-disciplinary technologies and makes effective use of hardware capabilities and software intelligence. The device usage and sensor data is processed on the Azure platform,” discloses Sundal.
Eyeing the world championship
“The next step is to wrap up the development phase so we can go to market by December 2019,” said Bhadana. The team is looking at directly selling their product online and offline and also partnering with hospitals so it can be directly recommended to patients. The team has already applied for a patent for the product through their university.
Winning this round, Team Caeli received USD15,000 and will now represent Asia at the Imagine Cup World Championship, which will be held in Seattle in May.
“We are so grateful to have the opportunity to participate in the Imagine Cup, and we are thrilled to represent Asia at the World Finals. We will continue to modify and improve our project, based on the judges’ feedback, before the competition in Seattle,” exclaimed Bhadana.